A feature on the Southampton University Taekwondo Club.
As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations we’re sharing the stories of our members. In this feature we find out more about Southampton University Taekwondo Club and speak with Oli Perez and Isra Ilyas about why they do Taekwondo.
Southampton University Taekwondo Club has been going strong for over 43 years and is run by head coach Master Cliff Lee and Club President Isra Ilyas.
The club has produced a number of BUCS and British Taekwondo Champions over the years and this year, two club members, Oli Perez and Isra Ilyas, have both qualified to represent GB at the European University Games in Lodz, Poland in July.
This will be Oli’s debut at the event in the Men’s -58kg division, while Isra will be competing for the third time after qualifying in the Female -46kg division.
Both members train at the University Club alongside LMC Taekwondo, which is run by head coach, and former Team GB Olympic athlete, Max Cater.
An interview with Oli Perez and Isra Ilyas of the Southampton University Taekwondo Club.
British Taekwondo: Please tell us how you got started in Taekwondo?
Oli Perez: My parents insisted since I was young I should practise Taekwondo, but it wasn’t until four years ago while having some mental health issues that I thought Taekwondo could help me with them.
Isra Ilyas: My oldest cousin started doing Taekwondo and he wanted all of the younger cousins to give it a go. A few years later, I found a club a five-minute walk from me and never looked back.
BT: What makes you continue to do Taekwondo?
Oli: Out of the sports I’ve done so far swimming, football, chess and Taekwondo, I feel Taekwondo is the one that’s pushed me the most to keep improving.
The last Winter BSTF Championship was my first ever Taekwondo competition. I love food so cutting weight gets especially hard for me. But I’m really looking forward to competing at the European University Games in Poland this summer.
Isra: I love the sparring aspect of Taekwondo and how I can constantly learn new things with the way the game keeps changing so it’s never boring. As someone who struggles with mental health, I find training helps distract me from university and gives me a much-needed break whilst also keeping fit.
I was honoured to win the Sportswoman of the Year at the Southampton University Athletic Union Ball this year, it’s brilliant to be able to represent Taekwondo at different levels.
BT: What do you enjoy most about Taekwondo?
Oli: I love the feeling of clearing my mind after a highly demanding and exhausting day at uni.
Isra: I enjoy getting to know other people from other clubs in training and at competitions, and how no two training sessions are ever the same. Everyone at both the university club and LMC are also very welcoming whilst also pushing me to get better each session too.
Everyone at British Taekwondo wishes Oli and Isra all the very best at the European University Games and hope they have a wonderful trip and excellent competition.
If you would like to share your Taekwondo story please contact Richard Gottfried, Marketing, Digital & Media Manager via firstname.lastname@example.org or 07706 342156.