WITH the Paralympics now underway in Tokyo, lesser known or not often televised sports are enjoying their time in the spotlight.
This year, taekwondo joins them having only been recognised as a Paralympic sport.
It is already a well-established para sport but, only this year has it been allowed to bathe in the same glory as its counterpart in the Olympics.
Some 6,000 miles away from the games in Japan, Lyme Regis Taekwondo Club members are especially excited to watch this year’s competition, as they have two para athletes among their ranks.
Six-year-old Livia Bray, who took up taekwondo in April has cerebral palsy but doesn’t let her condition hold her back.
Instructor Sharon Ward says Livia is “always smiling and is a joy to teach, gaining confidence all the time”.
“I have already seen an improvement in her leg strength,” added Sharon.
“Livia recently gained her first grading at the club and is working towards her second.”
Dexter Weldin, aged nine, has been a member of the club since he was four and half years old.
He was born missing the lower part of his left arm and leg but, again, he hasn’t let them hold him back and has recently gained his blue belt.
He is now only four gradings away from receiving his black belt.
Dexter is also part of the GB Para Poomsae squad and has been training every month with the squad via Zoom since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sharon said: “Not only will we be cheering on Team GB members, like Amy Truesdale, but also our good friend Ivan Mikulic from the Croatian Para Taekwondo Team.
“I first met Ivan back in 2017 at the World Para Taekwondo Competition in London, where he was competing.
“He didn’t mind an excited, curious and talkative five-year-old Dexter asking him questions or sitting with him.
“Ivan promised to give Dexter his black belt that he was wearing after he finished his competition. I brought the belt back with me and gave it to Dexter at the club, and since then, Ivan has become a hero of Dexter’s and mine.”
The taekwondo competition at the Tokyo Paralympics got underway on Thursday and continues today (Saturday).
Lyme Regis Taekwondo Club would like to wish all the athletes good luck and will be cheering them on.