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Pembrokeshire’s Matt kicks up a storm

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WELSH Taekwondo champions Lauren Williams and Matt Bush are going for gold at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year.

They are among a group of over 1,000 elite athletes in the UK funded by the National Lottery to ensure that they have every chance of realising their full potential.

The Welsh taekwondo champions, along with double Olympic champion Jade Jones, are all currently training full time in hope of being selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020. National Lottery funding allows them to compete and train full time to the highest international standards.

Matt Bush, 30, from Pembrokeshire became the first British man to claim a title at the World Para-taekwondo championships in Turkey this year and Lauren Williams, 20, from Blackwood, struck gold at the European Championships in 2016.

Both Matt and Lauren train full time at the GB National Taekwondo Centre in Newton Heath, Manchester. The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2016 with the support of National Lottery funding and meets all their training and conditioning needs under one roof. Lauren and Matt are among 19 athletes, including Welsh Taekwondo star Jade Jones, training full time on the World Class Performance Programme.

Matt, who stands at 6ft 5in, said: “I always watched boxing on television when I was growing up but never thought I would actually be able to do it. When I came across martial arts and saw that people were using their legs and elbows, it dawned on me that this was something I might be able to do.

Although I live in Pembrokeshire, I do the six-hour drive to Manchester so that I can train with the best. In order to progress in the sport, it’s what I’ve had to do. This is my chance to go to Tokyo in 2020 and represent my country and the only outcome for me is to go and come back with a gold medal. The facilities at the GB Taekwondo Centre are incredible and without it, we wouldn’t be here.”

Lauren said: “I started Taekwondo when I was 14 after being inspired by Jade Jones at the 2012 Olympics. My dad decided to apply for me to be part of the Fighting Chance Programme which meant I could transfer the skills I had developed through years of kickboxing. Taekwondo is a tactful sport with a lot going on and has given me a new avenue in hopefully achieving my goals.”

We usually train five days a week for anything between four to six hours each time. The National Lottery funding means that we have this incredible facility with access to all the best services and medical staff. Before this, we had to train at an Asda warehouse. We’ve come from that to now having world-class facilities. I went to the 2016 Olympics in Rio as a reserve athlete so for me, the big goal is to make it to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.”

Sport

Bush qualifies for Paralympic games

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PEMBROKESHIRE’s Para-taekwondo star Matt Bush has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic games this summer.

At the European Paralympic Qualification tournament, Bush, who is the current world champion, beat Hungary’s Zoltan Kiss 29-1 in the +75kg final.

Para-taekwondo will make its debut at this summer’s Paralympics with the competition set to take place from September 2-4.

Bush, from St Clears, became Britain’s first ever world champion in the sport in 2019 began his latest tournament in fine style, seeing off Roman Ivaniuk of Ukraine 38-2 in the semi-final.

Matt told BBC Sport that it felt ‘so good’ to have secured his spot in the team.

The heavyweight athlete has made quite the mark on the mats. He has medalled at the Korean Open, Oceania Para Taekwondo Championships and the Pan America Para Taekwondo Open.

The GB team for Tokyo will be officially announced later this summer.

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Sport

Lawrenny through in Village Cup

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LAWRENNY are through to the next round of the Village Cup after they beat Llandysul on Sunday (May 9).

Both teams were rained off the previous day but some good work meant that the game was able to go ahead.

Llandysul batted first but were bowled out for 82 in 26.3 overs as Jamie Lewis took five wickets for the visitors.

He went on to finish with figures of 5-22 from his seven overs while the home side’s top scorer was captain Llew Hughes who made a score of 20.

Lawrenny did not have it all their own way in their reply as Rhys Jones bowled well to finish with figures of 3-10.

However, an excellent knock of 52 from Harry Thomas steered Lawrenny to their target inside the 24th over.

Elsewhere, Carew’s game away at Drefach was called off while Cresselly had already received a bye to the next round.

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Sport

Lawrenny earn big win over Whitland

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LAWRENNY got their 2021 season off to the perfect start on Saturday (May 1) as they beat Whitland by 189 runs.

Whitland won the toss and elected to field but they could only watch as the home side piled on the runs before being bowled out for 264.

Kyle Marsh top scored with a score of 81 while Kurtis Mars also scored 45.

Tom Cole added 32 and James Phillips chipped in with a score of 29 as they batted well.

Wayne Howells and Jonathan Thomas finished with identical figures of 2-27 as Whitland’s bowling did at least keep the score below 300.

Whitland knew they would need to bat well to knock off the runs needed but came up against Ryan Morton who took four wickets for the loss of 17 runs.

Kurtis Marsh also claimed two wickets without conceding any runs as the visitors chances got smaller and smaller.

Geraint Jones did score 30 for Whitland but that was as good as it got as they were bowled out for just 75.

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