Bundaberg girl Lauren Thom (red) in action. She will travel to Manchester for the British Open representing Australia.
Bundaberg girl Lauren Thom (red) in action. She will travel to Manchester for the British Open representing Australia. Barb Thom

Local wins tae kwon doe gold

When long-time instructor Mario Rejtano died last year, Lauren Thom knew it would never be the same.

Intent on continuing in the sport, Thom, now 16, made the bold decision to move to the tae kwon-do heartland of Werribee, Victoria, to live with her aunt and uncle and train at City West under Sensei Frank De Pasquale

It was a bold move, leaving her family and her friends, but six months on she is already reaping the rewards.

An undefeated season put her in a position to compete in the Australian selection trials for the British Open.

She walked away with three gold medals and a ticket to Manchester.

Thom was quick to credit Rejtano for her latest achievement.

“He was such a big part of my life; I trained with him since I was seven,” she said.

“But when he died I needed to restart everything. I needed a clean slate.

“I couldn't see myself training in that gym without him there.”

Since arriving in Werribee though, Thom said her skills had developed 10-fold.

“I'm already much better at what I do, but I know I've got a long way to go,” she said.

The September 23 tournament will be her first against open competition, meaning she is likely to fight opponents with more experience, in the prime of their careers.

“You probably reach your peak between 18 and 22, so that will obviously make it tough for me,” she said.

“But at the same time it's a tremendous experience and I know I'll come back with more knowledge.”

Thom has only just submitted her passport paperwork; such was her rapid rise to the Australian ranks.

“At the start of the season I never thought I'd be in this position; it's just that my form was so good we thought we'd give it a shot.”



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