TWO Southampton area girls have been selected for the British Taekwondo Olympic training academy in Manchester.

Both Tegan Paynter, 13, and Sharissa Gannaway, 15, are members of the city’s British Taekwondo Schools (BTS) programme.

Paynter, who attends Hounsdown Secondary School in Totton, took up taekwondo at the age of seven due to bullying at school and for self defence.   She achieved Black Belt status just three years later and is now a 2nd Poom Black Belt.

Paytner is a four-time British National Champion, having just won her latest title a few weeks ago, and is ranked No 1 in her weight category!

Gannaway, who attends Bitterne Park Comprehensive School in Southampton, recently passed her 1st Poom and is now a Black Belt.

She started aged 12 to keep fit and after only a few months of training won a gold medal at the British National Championships.   Gannaway has missed out on the last two Nationals due to an operation last year on both her legs and an injury this year.

She has now recovered and will compete at the European Championships as part of the GB Junior Team this November.

Paynter is currently coached by Joe Brown, who also used to coach Gannaway before she moved into the squad headed up by senior coach Steven Johnson.  The two girls were selected, following two boot camp phases, for the Olympic training academy from an initial list of 150 applicants. Only 17 were picked.

Paynter will represent GB at the European Cadet Championships next week in Budapest after winning her weight category at the selection competition put on by British Taekwondo.

Both girls train for about eight hours each week, after school and at the weekend.   BTS were also successful at this year’s British Championships, winning the overall team trophy.

Further details on the club from Joe Brown on 07774 104412.