COOKTOWN’S Riley Gibson has defied the odds to gain her taekwondo black belt, despite having a broken arm just months before her gruelling grading.
The youngster is one of only four students to gain their black belt at Cooktown Taekwondo Academy over the past eight years, and will be the last, with trainer Dan Hodgson winding up the group at the end of 2022.
“Exceptional does not even begin to sum up what Riley has been able to achieve,” Hodgson said.
“On average, only one in every 1000 white belts make it to black belt.
“I am extremely lucky to be part of Riley’s journey and infinitely proud of what she has done and her ability to overcome adversity to be able to reach this point.”
The young sportswoman, who has been training taekwondo since she was 9, juggled her Year 8 studies with the gruelling black belt training and her other sporting commitments, proud mother Melanie Gibson said.
“She had to train and study at home, working through a manual and learning Korean,” Ms Gibson said.
“She had to train for six months for the black belt, it was huge, everything she has learnt over the years is all incorporated into the black belt grading.”
Ms Gibson said she made a deal with her daughter, who wanted to attend boarding school, that if she made her black belt at the end of Year 8, she would apply for a scholarship for her.
“She wanted to go to boarding school in Year 7, but I made her a deal and said if you get your black belt at the end of Year 8 I will apply for a scholarship for you; we both stuck to our agreement and she was accepted for a scholarship to St Peter’s Lutheran College Brisbane.”
The 13-year-old not only excels at taekwondo, but has achieved top marks at school and is an active member of the Cooktown Amateur Swimming Club and Junior Rugby League Club.
“She’s done really well,” Ms Gibson said.
“Some days she found it hard but she has lots of dedication and Dan was a big encouragement for her.”