By Ross Karl
Taekwondo fighter Estelle Speirs made history recently, becoming the first Kiwi woman to win sparring gold at the ITF world cup in England.
It was the pinnacle of her year as she competes in the non-Olympic version of taekwondo, and that's just the way she likes it.
Translated from Korean taekwondo means ‘The way of the feet and fists’ and if you hadn't seen Speirs using hers you'd never expect the petite, soft-natured 25-year-old to be a strike force.
“It's a different story, I definitely change my persona in the ring, but as soon as it's over I'm back to normal again,” she says.
Last month 52kg Speirs won sparring gold at the ITF world cup in Brighton.
The world cup is the pinnacle of ITF competition this year, as the Olympics is a WTF event.
The difference between organisations lies in rules and protective wear.
ITF athletes don't wear chest guards in competition, instead using bigger gloves and foot protectors, because they can punch, as well kick, to the head.
“I like the aspect that we use our hands a lot more than WTF and I quite like the aggression with my hands,” says Speirs, who also took silver at the world cup in the special technique sidekick event.
The highest 1.7m Speirs can kick is 2.2m, but it's the punching she loves, though she says she only lets out her aggression in the ring.
That's great news for Joe Public, but small consolation for her opponents.
source: newshub archive