HELENSBURGH taekwondo student Melanie Neil brought home a team gold medal from the ITF European Championships in the Italian city of Rimini.

Melanie was one of four students of the martial art from Helensburgh Taekwondo Club to take part in the event between April 2 and 8.

As part of the Scottish female veteran team at the event, she helped beat England in the team patterns final to win gold, and also secured a silver for the runners-up in the team sparring competition.

First degree student Melanie also won two silver medals for individual sparring and individual patterns, losing out to a Greek opponent in the battle for gold in the latter category.

Meanwhile, fellow first degree student Carlton Brick worked hard to come away with two silver medals in individual patterns and individual sparring after finding himself up against tough opponents from Wales and Spain in the respective finals – the former a previous European champion.

Carlton and the Scottish veteran male team also came away with a silver medal for power, with the Czech Republic team taking gold and Greece winning bronze.

At second degree level, Kirsten Barrett was unlucky to go out against Spain in the individual patterns round, but more than made up for that disappointment with some tremendous skill and technique in the sparring category.

A healthy win in her first fight against a Swedish opponent was followed by a hard-earned defeat against a member of the Bulgarian team, with Kirsten pulling out all the stops and landing some outstanding head kicks which pushed her points tally well beyond that of her challenger.

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Kirsten’s next fight was against a well-seasoned competitor from Ukraine, and although she scored some good points she just lost out on going through to the next round, just before a medal place.

The last Helensburgh competitor, second degree student Chris Doolan, just missed out on the special technique for flying side kick – though at a distance of nearly three metres he had his work cut out.

In the individual sparring category, he just lost out to a national and previous European champion from England in his first fight, but in the second round found himself up against the current world champion from Russia and was unfortunate to lose to an extremely experienced fighter.

Club instructor and Scottish national team coach Steve McLaren, who coaches all the competitors alongside John Wilson at the Peak Performance full-time martial arts facility in Helensburgh, said: “To take such a huge step up in competition, venturing into the unknown, cutting weight, and multiple four-hour training sessions with the squad takes massive dedication and personal sacrifice.

“I couldn’t be prouder.

“And it doesn’t stop here, We are now preparing for the world championships in Bulgaria at the end of August with the first squads sessions set for April 28.

“All four students would like to thank everyone who donated to their crowdfunding campaigns, and who helped raise money through events held at Helensburgh Taekwondo Club.

“Thanks also to Helensburgh Rotary Club and all the local businesses for their continued support.”