Martial arts champions scoop gold medals at national competition

Martial arts champions scoop gold medals at national competition

A PAIR of Bristol-based martial artists have taken home UK Champion titles - and have now qualified to compete in the European Championships.

Kieran McDermott and Esme McCarthy from the Thornbury Taekwondo Academy, took part in the UK International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) Finals Day, held in Reading.

Only black belt students who had qualified at the National Championships were eligible to compete at the top-class competition.

And they returned to their club victorious - both winning gold medals for sparring.

Gold medal winners Kieran McDermott and Esme McCarthy

Instructor Master Vaughan Buxton, a 7th degree black belt and a British, European and World title holder, said: “The students have dedicated years of hard work to make it to this level of competition.

“Only a small per centage make it to finals and it is in itself a great achievement. I’m proud of the students’ performance and conduct throughout.

“We look forward to watching the team represent Thornbury and the UK on the international stage this summer.”

Kieran, whose grandparents hail from Castlebar in Co. Mayo, started Taekwondo aged seven and is now a 3rd degree black belt.

The first-class law with business graduate from the University of the West of England (UWE) works as a trainee solicitor. He is also a European Kickboxing Champion and Junior Taekwondo World Champion.

He said: “I’ve been fortunate to train with Master Buxton, who is a top-class instructor and has helped me to hone my technique over the years.”

Esme McCarthy, a second-degree black belt, who is studying law at London South Bank University and works part time as a legal assistant, also won silver for patterns.

They both attend black belt clinics and squad training every other Saturday, as well as their weekly classes with the club, which was set up 23 years ago.

They will now compete in the European Championships, which will take place in Cardiff, Wales, in July.

Only five per cent of ITF Taekwondo students are said to take part in competitions.

But the teams at Thornbury and Fishponds Taekwondo Academy, known collectively as UK ITF Region 7, are active in the competitive arena - also taking part in the South-West Open Championships.

Twenty-three students competed at the event at Torbay Leisure Centre in Paignton and returned with 32 medals.

Thornbury TKD students at the South-West Open Championships

Fishponds Taekwondo Academy instructor Gavin Reader, who is a 3rd degree Black Belt and has been a sports coach for two decades, said he was proud of the students’ efforts.

Dad-of-three Gavin, who has worked as a paramedic and is a project manager for the NHS, said: “It takes guts to step on the mat and I think those who take part in competitions should be proud of their achievements - whether they win medals or not.

“I think competitions are a great way to learn and challenge yourself as a martial artist," he added.

"The team performed well and showed good sporting behaviour.”

For more information about Thornbury TKD visit