A TAEKWONDO teen from Helensburgh is appealing for donations to help fund her bid to represent Scotland in the sport.

Kirsten Barrett has been selected, along with three other members of her Helensburgh club, as part of the 30-strong International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) Scotland team which will compete at the European Championships in Italy later this year.

But before the 17-year-old Hermitage Academy pupil can set her sights firmly on the April showpiece, she needs public support to aid her on her way to Rimini, with equipment costs, flights and the entry fee totalling around £1,000.

Despite the steep price, Kirsten said she is determined to make her dream come true of pulling on the national team tracksuit.

She said: “This is a massive stepping stone for me as a competitor.

"Taekwondo has become a massive part of my life. I have competed all around the UK winning a large number of medals.

“I had no idea I would make it to where I am now. It would mean a lot to represent my country and it would be a big achievement.”

Kirsten, who leaves school this year and plans to take up sports studies at university, said taekwondo has taken over her life since she first got involved with the martial arts discipline nine years ago.

As the Advertiser reported in September, she was named Young Volunteer of the Year at the Argyll and Bute TSI awards, and while reaching the Euros would be the pinnacle of her career so far, she hopes the championships will be the first of many high points on the international stage.

She added: “I still get the same excitement now as I did at my first competition and I still remember my first class – well, it was my brothers’ first class, my official first class wasn’t until a week later.

“At first I wanted to join in because my brothers were doing it but as I was sitting up the back of the class with my parents I was fascinated by what was happening, so I was copying everything they were doing.

“Since starting taekwondo it has opened up so many doors for me.

“I have learned to be more confident, I’ve learned how to teach and encourage others, I have won both local and national awards for my devotion to the sport, the list is endless.”

To support Kirsten’s fund-raising cause visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kirsten-barrett.

Three other students from the Peak Performance club in Helensburgh will represent Scotland at the European Championships, which run from April 2-8.

Carlton Brick, Chris Doolan and Melanie Neil will be competing, while mentor Steven McLaren will be coaching the squad.

To support their fund-raising appeals visit gofundme.com/peak-performance-represents-scotland-at-the-euros.