Fil-German girl wins silver at British taekwondo championship

By Edward Lao, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Sep 24 2012 01:21 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2012 12:51 AM

MANCHESTER -- A British-born German-Filipina taekwondo fighter has finished second place at the 2012 British National Championships.

Jeamy Navarro-Schrank struck silver in the 11-14 age category for females at the tournament held at the Manchester Velodrome on September 8.

The 12-year-old, who was the reigning two-time champion for the category below - known as the Pee-wees - convincingly beat her first two opponents, before losing a close fight in the final.

Jeamy's opening bout ended 3-0 after her opponent's coach decided he had seen enough and threw in the towel.

Her following fight began slow, but the German-Pinay came out in attack mode for the second round.

Jeamy landed several kicks to the head, which helped her build a commanding point lead. The fight was eventually stopped at 13-0, her opponent in tears.

In the final Jeamy faced a taller opponent whose longer legs managed to keep her at range. It was a tight encounter that went the three-round distance.

With the scores locked at 1-1, Jeamy's opponent connected with a head-shot, which made the score 4-1.

From then, Jeamy had to force the issue, but was unable to reduce the deficit. It ended 5-2.

Jeamy was visibly upset after losing her national title.

ABS-CBN Europe spoke to her father, Yan Schrank, who felt it was best to leave his daughter alone with her thoughts.

"She is experienced enough to deal with it herself. At the moment she's thinking about what she could've done differently. She's thinking about the fight and that is a learning process, so I'm not interfering with that at the moment."

Jeamy was quick to analyze the reasons behind her defeat.

"I'm really disappointed. It was neck and neck but I let her score a head-shot. It was difficult since she was taller and I had to chase the match without my actual coach."

British Taekwondo South (BTS) coach Gareth Brown has represented Great Britain's taekwondo team. He has mentored Jeamy for the past few years and is usually there for all her fights. This time though, he was unable to make it because he was getting married.

Jeamy felt the affects of Brown not being there to guide her.

"I had to make my own decisions about what she was doing, and watch her fight and everything. My coach is the one usually telling me what to do, the coach [today] didn't really do that for me."

"I learnt that you can't just depend on other people. You need to sometimes learn how to do it by yourself - not just let other people do the work and you just follow them," she said.

It was also the first time for Jeamy to compete in the 11-14 age category - known as the Cadets - which is one step up from the Pee-wees.

Dean Leak, Development Manager for GB Taekwondo, is responsible for spotting and nurturing the next generation of taekwondo athletes for Great Britain's senior team. He was present at the tournament.

Despite the loss, Leak expressed confidence in Jeamy's abilities.

"Jeamy got a silver today and from our perspective, even though the nationals are a prestigious competition, there are plenty more opportunities for them to do well."

Jeamy aims to fight in the Olympics one day and has been tipped for glory. The prolific medallist, who took up the martial art when she was 8, has been training with the national Cadet squad since being selected in 2010. Leak says she has shown promise.

"Jeamy is one of those athletes that is within the Cadet group who have been really really progressing well. Her talent is growing each year and she's definitely one of those athletes that is on our radar to watch for the future.

"I think if she keeps developing at the rate she is developing at the moment then she's definitely got a bright future. She has got a good coach in Gareth [Brown] of BTS so I've got high hopes for her at the moment, yes."

A few days after the tournament, Jeamy flew out to Houston, Texas, to train with celebrated United States master Jean López and his siblings Mark, Steven and Diana, all of whom are Olympians.

Jeamy was looking forward to the trip and improving.

"I'm excited to learn new things and to get better so that next time I'd win and I'll be able to fight without my coach."

The youngster's eyes are set on the 2013 European Championships being held in Romania next June. If selected it will be her first opportunity to compete under the Team GB banner.

In preparation for the European Championships, she will compete in a string of other competitions, including one in Serbia on October 20-21.

Due to her age there is a very slim chance she could still make the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. However, her father says the 2020 Games are more realistic.