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On The Hunt For Spanish Gold

Sporting all rounder Nicole Huntington previously used her hands and feet for netball and football.

Now the Suffolk born GB international gets her kicks from taekwondo and this weekend fights for the final time before a World Championship debut in Russia next month.(May 12-18)

The 18-year-old from Ipswich is part of an 10-strong squad competing at the Spanish Open in Pontevedra.  But the former kick boxer wasn’t always destined  for a martial arts career.

“I used to play football and netball to a fairly high level but I’ve given them up now,” explained Huntington, a Manchester based housemate of Olympic champion, Jade Jones, and 2014 European gold medallist, Bianca Walkden.

“I am obviously now training full-time plus I am also studying for A Levels,” said the PE and Biology student. “However, when I was younger I played for a football team-Copleston Ladies FC- that won the league and cup four years running.

“At netball, I was in the highest team possible when I was 14. I was meant to go to County trials for Suffolk but I had to quit for kick boxing and taekwondo.”

Taekwondo hasn’t proved as bountiful since she moved from East Anglia to the North West after successfully coming through the 2013 Fighting Chance initiative.

However, a bronze medal at the Luxor Open earlier this year, where she pushed world number one, Eva Calvo Gomex, to golden point, confirmed Huntington is progressing in the right direction. She was then named in Britain’s World Championship squad for Chelyabinsk.

“Getting bronze in Egypt was a bit surreal,” admitted Huntington. “I had been used to seeing a lot of the others getting on the podium.So, it was great to be the one on there getting a medal for a change

“Pushing Gomez so close also proved a point that you are good enough to stand up against these top girls who have been doing taekwondo a lot longer than me.

“But when you train alongside Jade I know when I go to a competition I have seen what the best in the world is like. So, there is nothing that can be tougher out there.”

She calls Jones, 22, and 23-year-old Walkden her “big sisters” adding:”It’s a very relaxed, normal house. It was a major thing when I first came to Manchester at 16.

“But I am used to my surroundings and the area now while Jade and Bianca are always around to give me advice.”

Huntington competes at -57kg this weekend as London 2012 golden girl takes a rest after winning her last six competitions. Another nine athletes, including 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Lutalo Muhammad, have flown to Cuba for a training camp as part of their preparations for the 2015 Worlds.

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