A Croydon schoolgirl who suffers from both learning and physical disabilities has been chosen to represent England in an international martial arts tournament.
Georgia Stanley, 14, of South Norwood will fight at the Commonwealth Poomsae Championships in Edinburgh this November.
The sport combines the the moves and choreography of the martial art taekwondo, which Georgia has been practicing since he age of nine after being diagnosed with a moderate learning disability.
Mother Frances Stanley said: “Georgia was attending Heavers Farm Primary School, South Norwood, when it became apparent that she was several years behind her peers in reading and writing.
‘It was also identified that she struggled with her speech, displaying difficulty when getting her words out.”
Her PE teacher was Richard Allen, the ten times British taekwondo champion, who also represented Team GB in the 2000 Olympics.
He ran taekwondo lessons twice a week at the school and Georgia instantly fell in love with the sport.
Georgia said: “I was really shocked when my mum told me I had been selected. I feel really proud. I would recommend the sport to others as I think it is good to have a sport like this to keep you active and have something positive to do.”
With the championships just a couple of months away, preparations are well under way but it has put a financial strain on the family.
Her mother added: “Unfortunately our upcoming athletes do not receive funding from the government or any other source.
‘It’s all self-funded. I am trying to raise funds for Georgia to represent England in the Para-Taekwondo category of the Poomsae division. She is also part of the Team GB squad and as part of this she is required to take part in at least two international competitions a year”.
— Frances Stanley (@chelseafran) August 14, 2014
Stanley has set up a page to receive donations with a target of £1000 and uses her social media pages to promote this as well as Georgia’s successes. The funds raised will go towards training, kit, equipment and travel.
Both Georgia and her mother acknowledge the benefits of learning taekwondo.
“I think it is a good sport. The kids learn how to keep fit and also learn many aspects of self-defence. It gives them a lot of confidence and more importantly, self-worth. [Taekwondo] keeps them off the streets as they have something positive to focus on. Their education is also benefited, which is very important.” Stanley said.
Georgia currently attends Bensham Manor in Thorton Heath and is making progress in her studies, although it is clear her passion is taekwondo. She said: “I like taekwondo as it keeps you fit and active, when I started sparring I started to get a real passion for it.”
You can support Georgia’s journey to the championships by making a donation, visit http://www.gofundme.com/aywzw0