Updated: Jan 18, 2019
I first met Amy having been invited along to a ladies only/#ThisGirlCan training session and Wirral and Chester #Taekwondo in Bromborough. I had always, somewhat naively, pictured martial arts of any kind to be male dominated.
It was a freezing cold November evening when I made my way over to the gym. I sat through the class, feeling rather ill as I had been suffering with bronchitis at the time, shooting away as discretely as I could, watching on as women of all ages really got stuck into the warm ups and teaching. Every single person I met that evening was so friendly and helpful. I was really made to feel welcome and was almost made to feel like a part of the "family". I was impressed. There was also that little bit of me that, despite feeling so rubbish, was longing to join in. However, I had my physio’s words of warning running through my head so decided to stay put.
There were some incredibly tough ladies there that night. In fact, I admit I was a little apprehensive of asking Amy off the mat to chat with me! She did however make her way over, hair tied back, and visibly hot and pumped from her training.
[Amy, pictured centre left, during training]
Amy told me how at a young age she was introduced to Taekwondo by her parents, along with her sister. They wanted their daughters not only to take up a sport as a form of exercise, but also to be able to stand up for themselves if ever they needed to. Throughout school Amy loved all sports, but not only did she really enjoy Taekwondo, she found she actually excelled at it, and so decided to focus her time and effort on progressing even further.
Up to now, Amy might just appear to be your regular teenager. However, what I’ve not yet mentioned is that she was born without her lower left arm. When she was about 8 years old, Amy began to keep a diary which her parents still have. In it she wrote that one day she would be a World Champion and visit Korea, the home of Taekwondo.
Astonishingly, Amy has fulfilled these and many and many other ambitions. In fact, at the end of 2017, not only had she added gold to her previous haul of a silver and two bronze medals from her three previous Para World Championship appearances, but a few days later she kept her crown for the fourth time at the Para Taekwondo European Championships held in Bulgaria. This incredible young woman now has her sights set upon winning gold in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
Amy is currently trains 3 days a week with the Olympic team and exercises on the other days, having Sundays off.
When I asked about obstacles that she may have had to her successes, Amy told me that her biggest challenge is time management; juggling her training and exercise sessions with teaching Taekwondo classes to children, adults and families.
More recently she has been teaching ‘inclusive’ classes to both children and adults with some physical as well as learning disabilities. Of this, Amy said that she finds this really rewarding and enjoys it a great deal. This inspiring individual finds that her own disability allows her to relate easily to those in her classes. What an inspiration she must be to them too.
I loved photographing Amy. It was great fun, especially being told not to make her smile as she needed to look tough. She undoubtedly proves though, that you can be both tough and glamorous!
Amy has never allowed her disability to stop her in any way whatsoever. Quite the opposite in fact. She claims that her disability has helped her to develop a very determined mind set, which has allowed her to compete against the very best and win.
In the short time I have known Amy, she has smashed any preconceived ideas I had about martial arts, and has even tried to persuade me that it’s never too late to learn. Thanks, but I think my family, friends and physio might just be glad to hear that I’ll be sticking with my own dreams of summiting Mont Blanc before I’m 50!
And Amy's advice to anyone who's thinking of taking up a sport, "What's stopping you?"
If you have a story you would like to share, please message me through the contact page. Your story can motivate and inspire others, as those I have been fortunate enough to meet have inspired me.