After recovering from an injury which left her in a knee brace for two months, 13-year-old Abi Gibson has successfully swapped her swimming togs for a taekwondo gi.
Abi started swimming competitively when she was 9, and quickly started breaking records.
“I think I still hold 11 today,” she said.
“I was doing it for fun and it started to get quite serious, and I just loved doing it competitively.”
But a “bad accident” at school when she was 11 left her with a dislocated knee.
The injury took her out of the pool for months while she wore a knee brace and underwent “intensive physio”.
Abi said it took her months to regain confidence, but she had lost her passion for swimming.
“I think it was just because it [the injury] took such a toll on me . . . and I just didn’t have much of a drive to continue to be competitive.
“It was quite painful to swim.”
She gave up swimming competitively about two years ago, and last year took up taekwondo.
“I turned to taekwondo so that it would help me rebuild my strength both mentally and physically.”
It took some convincing from her mother, Lisa, to attend the first session, but she was so pleased she did.
She started in September last year, and has quickly moved up the ranks to a yellow belt.
Abi enjoyed the discipline, mental side and physicality that went with the sport.
This year, she was named the junior student of the year at her club, the Threshold Taekwon-Do School.
Head instructor Hayden Breese, a 6th degree black belt, said Abi’s work ethic was “through the roof”.
“When she turns up, she turns up to work.”
Her sparring skills and flexibility were above standard, and her attitude was “outstanding”.
Taekwondo was a “long game”, and Abi intended to stick at it.
“I just don’t want to tire of it,” Abi said.
“It’s not like sports where you’ve got an age limit.
“There’s lots of things I want to achieve in taekwondo.”