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Cardiff teen is taekwondo world champion

Poppy Richardson

Cardiff teen Poppy Richardson is a taekwondo world champion after triumphing at an international tournament.

Poppy, a year 9 student at Mary Immaculate High School, represented Wales at the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) World Championships in Finland earlier this month.

The competition, held every two years, included more than 1,100 competitors from some 60 countries.

Poppy, aged 13, competed in the pre-junior 12-14 age category under 40kg. She sparred against a competitor from Germany in the semi-finals and Uzbekistan in the finals, beating both over the course of two two-minute rounds to take home the gold.

Poppy has been doing taekwondo since the age of six and is a member of the NE-Sport Taekwon-Do Club in Cardiff. While she has taken part in competitions across the UK, and two in the Netherlands, this was the biggest event she has competed in so far.

She trained at least five days a week throughout the summer holidays with early morning sprints, extra training and a strict diet plan to ensure she made the weight for her category.

Mum Debbie Richardson said: “We are absolutely delighted and so proud at what Poppy’s achieved. It’s not quite believable at the moment, it’s very surreal. She has put so much work and commitment into this, including eating very healthily and cutting out treats, which was especially difficult over the summer holidays.

“The staff at Mary Immaculate High School have been very supportive and encouraging of Poppy. They’ve always allowed her to take part in taekwondo competitions and have always showed an interest in how she is progressing.”

Poppy said: “I have always loved sparring and I had a lot of determination to go as high as I could and be the best I can be. In that first moment, after I had won, I was excited but it hadn’t really sunk in, it all happened so quickly. If I’m honest, it still hasn’t really sunk in. I would like to thank my coach Neil Ernest and my mum and dad for all their time, support and encouragement. I could not have done this without them!”

Annmarie Wilson, Deputy Head at Mary Immaculate, said: “We are all so proud of Poppy for flying the flag for Wales in the Taekwondo World Championships and coming home with the gold. Poppy has shown so much dedication and commitment to her sport over the years and we are very happy to support her in her endeavours. Congratulations Poppy!”