From ‘shy little girl’ to European taekwondo champion?

FLYING THE FLAG -- 12-year-old Team GB takewondo starlet Lauren Muzeja with one of the medals she has won.

FLYING THE FLAG -- 12-year-old Team GB takewondo starlet Lauren Muzeja with one of the medals she has won.

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When Lauren Muzeja, of Hucknall, first took up the sport of taekwondo, it was because “she was quite a shy, little girl”.

Now 12-year-old Lauren has made such good progress that she has been selected to represent Great Britain at the European Championships in Bucharest, Romania.

Mum Laura (33), freely admits that introducing her daughter to takewondo at the age of five was to instil more confidence into her.

“We deliberately chose a defensive martial art, ratheer than an aggressive one,” she says.

“But within six months, one of the masters teaching her said she had natural talent for it.

“She has shown consistent improvement and has been national champion five times at the various age groups and categories.

“She gained her 1st dan black belt at the age of eight and her 2nd dan when she was nine. Now she is a 3rd dan black belt, which is an unusually high achievement for a girl of her age.”

Dedicated Lauren, who goes to the National Academy on Annesley Road, is a member of the Kang Han club based on Beardall Street.

Her selection for Team GB follows a string of success and fantastic performances at tournaments in Germany, Belgium and Austria.

Now she embarks on a rigorous ten-week training programme for the Europeans, which take place between August 22 and 25.

“She is a solid medal-contender,” says Laura. “They take only a small team of players they believe can medal.

“Next year she hopes to take part in the world championships. Her future is very bright, and her big target is the 2020 Olympic Games.

“She is very confident and committed and has sacrificed a lot already.”

Lauren lives with her mum, dad Lloyd (40) and younger sisters Ellie (nine) and Ashley (five) at the family home on Washdyke Lane, Hucknall.

They are all taekwondo mad. Laura is a respected coach at Kang Han, while Ellie was also a national champion this year and Ashley took up the sport when she was only three years old!