Thirteen-year-old Catherine Kostadakopoulos will represent Australia in the first World Cadet Championships in kickboxing.
At just 13 years old, Catherine Kostadakopolous is a taekwondo queen.
She has just qualified to represent Australia in the World Cadet Championships, the first and only international title designed for the 12-14 year-old age group.
Designed to get young and talented taekwondoers competing earlier to get them more used to international competitions, the championship is a trendsetter. It gives them a chance to claim their first international gold and represent their country.
For Catherine, the championship is all she can think about right now. After winning both her qualifying fights in Perth earlier this year, she will join her Team Taekwondo friend Jade Milne-Perry and fly to Azerbaijan for the championship and represent Australia. It will be a whole other level, but her training regimen will put her in good stead to keep the nerves at bay.
She trains at Coburg’s Team Taekwondo like a full-time athlete, more than four times a week, and sometimes twice a day, all while fitting in school.
For Catherine, taekwondo is an obsession, and ever since she saw her older brothers Jonathan and Harry put on their belts, she was hooked.
Starting at the age of four, she was itching to get to a competitive age and start taking on the best.
Since she could legally start competing at the age of eight, she’s managed to become a five time national champion.
For a shy young girl, it’s like a hidden superpower for her.
“It helps with my confidence, I have lots of friends at taekwondo” Catherine tells Neos Kosmos.
That was her parents’ initial aim, to get their children to get active, teach them discipline and build their confidence up early.
To prove that, Catherine’s mother Mary says she sees her daughter making sure the younger members of Team Taekwondo are getting the help they need, often filling in to help the younger children and teach them the basics, all the while becoming a silent role model.
Mary says taekwondo has been the glue for her family. Just seeing her daughter’s face light up knowing she will have the Australian flag on her uniform is enough.
“They’re going to hold the Australian flag and take it to the match, and on her uniform it’s going to have the Australian flag so that’s a real achievement,” she says.
“How many people at 13 can say they’ve represented Australia at such a young age.”
Catherine’s coach and the director of Team Taekwondo, Murat Eryurek, saw Catherine’s ability from the start.
“She’s been training since the age of four,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
“She has pure talent, this girl is like a pocket-rocket.”
He will be coaching her and the Australian team in Azerbaijan, hoping to cement the nation as one of the best in the world.
He wants to see the sport get the popularity it deserves, while fostering a grassroots program that will keep creating world-class athletes.
He believes the children that take up taekwondo are a bit different from the rest, and once they settle in, they can’t get enough of it.
“These kids, they’ve all tried cricket, they’ve all tried soccer, it must be in the blood,” he says.
Catherine sees herself in for the long haul, and has big dreams at such a young age.
“I want to go to the junior Olympics, then the Olympics and win a gold medal,” she says.
Sadly, the team is not sponsored, so if anyone would like to reach out to Catherine and her family, contact Murat Eryurek at Team Taekwondo on 0408 437 111.
source: Neos Kosmos