Hassan Haider and Courtney Eardley are just three months into their careers with GB Taekwondo but are already looking forward to their debuts at the World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, South Korea. (June 24-30).
Scottish teenager Hassan and Eardley from Wakefield joined the Manchester based programme as part of the latest Fighting Chance talent ID initiative.
They quickly impressed GB Performance Director, Gary Hall, and his selectors and are included in a formidable looking squad including double Olympic champion, Jade Jones, and reigning World Champion, Bianca Walkden.
“Realistically, it would have been a goal to go to the Worlds in three years not three months,” said Eardley, born in South Africa but who moved to England aged just 18 months.
“It’s all new and really exciting to see what happens out in South Korea.
“I was very shocked when I heard I had been selected and because I was so shocked I didn’t really not know what to say.”
Eardley, 18, has won a silver medal at the WTF President’s Cup in Greece plus bronze medals from tournaments in Croatia and Belgium.
“It’s the biggest competition I have been selected for so I don’t want to say ‘I am going to bring home a medal.’
“That would be my dream goal but I will be up against some amazing fighters.
“I will probably have a few up and down moments with nerves but I am sure I will be able to manage them.”
Haider, 19 from Falkirk, who will fight at -54kg, says: “It’s going to be a great experience.
“I will be up against the world’s best players so I can see where I am compared to them.
‘Since I have joined the GB Academy I already feel like I have come on so much tactically. So, if I can fight my game I can do really well.”
Haider also medalled at the President’s Cup in Athens, adding another bronze at the Austrian Open.
“The President’s Cup was a hard competition and a lot of the world’s best players were there. But I felt I performed well.
“This is my first time in Korea and it has always been my dream to go out there. I’ve seen people going and back and forth during the time I have been doing taekwondo. So, it’s going to be an amazing experience.
The GB Squad is:
-54kg: Hassan Haider (Falkirk)
-58kg: Max Cater (Southampton)
-63kg: Bradly Sinden (Doncaster)
-68kg: Peter Longobardi-Radford (Rye)
-74kg: Christian McNeish (Plaistow)
-80kg: Damon Sansum (Elgin)
-87kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow)
+87kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell)
-49kg: Courtney Eardley(Wakefield)
-57kg: Jade Jones (Flint)
-62kg: Rachelle Booth (Wigan)
-67kg: Lauren Williams (Newport, Gwent)
-73kg: Jade Slavin (Consett)
+73kg: Bianca Walker (Liverpool)