Conor takes next step to Brazil ‘16

A teenager from Ilkeston is a step closer to the Olympic Games in Brazil after making it through to the next stage of a national taekwondo talent competition.

Conor Edwards was one of about 200 of the UK’s most promising martial artists who put their skills to the test as part of the first phase of Fighting Chance:Battle4Brazil.

This is the first talent identification campaign that UK Sport has launched since London 2012.

About 500 martial artists applied to be part of the trial, which took place in Manchester and involved various assessments of Conor’s fitness, strength, kicking, reactions and tactics.

The 17-year-old Bilborough College student also had to fight an opponent in three, two-minute rounds and was assessed on his sporting background.

He was later informed that he was one of about 80 youngsters who had made it through to the next stage, which will be a full day assessment later this year that involves being analysed by coaches and scientists in detail.

Thirty people will then go through to bootcamp before a group is selected to join the GB Taekwondo academy in August.

Conor said: “I found the trial really thrilling and exciting and it was a great experience as it was the first time I have fought in an Olympic style.

“I received an email to say I had made it through to the next stage and I couldn’t believe that I had got through. I was extremely happy, it was all quite emotionally draining but I was over the moon.”

Conor took up taekwondo when he was five and trains up to 20 hours a week with Kimberley Taekwondo and at Bilborough with Nottingham Taekwondo.

He has had a series of competition wins under his belt and most recently came second in the Cadet Boys’ Lightweight Division at the English Championships.