MARTIAL arts students from Helensburgh took to the mats for the WKA Kickboxing world qualifiers and the GMS Scottish Taekwondo Championships on the same weekend – returning home from the Ravenscraig regional sports facility in Lanarkshire with an impressive medal haul.

Kirsten Barrett led the way for the Steven McLaren Martial Arts school (SMMA) at the WKA event, winning three silver medals and one bronze, while Rachel Pullar added a silver and a bronze to the Helensburgh haul.

The third Helensburgh student competing in the WKA event was Finbar Taylor – and on his first ever kickboxing competition, he only just missed out on a place among the medals.

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The following day, nine SMMA pupils took part in the Scottish Taekwondo championships, with Kirsten Barrett adding to her medal haul from the weekend with two more bronze medals.

Anita Tamasic won a silver and a bronze at her first taekwondo competition, while Max Bell won a silver for patterns, and Rachel Pullar won a silver – despite a tough day of competition the previous day.

Dylan Adams didn’t medal, but he made sure that those who did had to work for it, while Hannah Cameron and Caitlin Pullar also missed out on medal after their tough sparring bouts.

To top it off, two of the school’s young superstars, Grace and Olivia Bell, both only seven years old, smashed it on the mats at their first competition.

Unfortunately they both just missed out on a medal, but it looks likely that ‘double trouble’ won’t have to wait too long for their first medals.

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Coach Steven McLaren said: “Anyone who has experienced any form of martial arts training before will appreciate how hard and intimidating it can be to step on the mats for the first time.

“This is why all the instructors and members of SMMA are extremely proud of their competitors for stepping on the mat.

“Those who competed completely exceeded all expectations, their sheer willpower and drive was inspiring.

“Yes, they may have got knocked back a few times, but that didn’t stop them from moving forwards.

“We’d like to wish them all good luck for their next competition – the Scottish Open in May.”

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