Two Dollingstown girls are well on the way to becoming martial arts black belts before they even enter their teens.
The McKew sisters - Jodie (10) and Jessie (8) - have been nominated in the junior section of the Craigavon Sports Awards after making waves in the world of Taekwondo.
They started the sport in August 2012, following in their father Jason’s footsteps and within a few months both Jodie and Jessie were made yellow belts, skipping an interim grade because of their outstanding progress.
They’ve accumulated so many trophies and accolades at poomsae and kyorugi that they’ve run out of room to display them in their Holly Hill home. The house is positively glistening given the number of gold medals on display.
Kyorugi is the contact form of the martial art of Taekwondo, while poomsae involves demonstrating the routines without an opponent.
Despite the two-year age gap both girls, pupils at Maralin Village PS, have progressed through the belts together from yellow to green to blue. Only recently has Jodie been made a red belt, moving one grade ahead of her sister who has a blue belt with a red tag. Jodie said it helped having a sparring partner at the same level and Jessie liked testing herself against a bigger opponent.
Jessie is aiming to become the youngest black belt at her club, Maghaberry, while Jodie has her sights on making the Olympics and replicating Jade Jones’ success.
Mum Heather said: “Any night they’re not away training they’re training at home with their daddy. They’ve turned the living room into a dojo. They’ve a training dummy called Bob they practice on.”
Asides from the sport, Heather said it was very useful that her children will be able to defend themselves.
The family have been living in Dollingstown for eight years, having previously lived in Magheralin. Heather and Jason have three more children - Jaxon (6), Jayden (5) and Jorgie (2). Jaxon has also started Taekwondo and is up to yellow belt already.
The girls thanked their dad Jason for everything he’s done to get them to the level they’re at today and Craigavon Sports Council for vital funding.
They also thanked their coaches Adrian Williams and Bertie Nicholson.