Talented Turner lifts world junior Muay Thai crown

Joe Le Maire, left, and Hannah Turner celebrate with their medals in Istanbul

Joe Le Maire, left, and Hannah Turner celebrate with their medals in Istanbul - Credit: Archant

A SUFFOLK schoolgirl has returned from Turkey as a junior world champion.

Hannah Turner, 13, won gold representing England in the under 54kg category of the IFMA Junior World Muay Thai Championships in Istanbul last month.

The Thurston Community College student, who trains at the Unit 1 Combat Sports Gym in Bury St Edmunds, faced a Turkish fighter in the championship final.

And she duly dominated, using her favoured counter-punching style to great effect.

Her foe was thus left hitting nothing but air as Turner punished her with powerful low kicks and punches.

The judges’ decision was but a formality, and Turner duly lifted world championship gold.

Turner’s training partner, Joe Le Maire, also returned from Turkey with a medal.

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The 15-year-old, a student at King Edward VI Upper School in Bury, reached the championship final in the under 45kg category, facing a tough Russian opponent.

And he started brightly, landing a solid punch combination to take the early initiative.

But his Russian opponent proved to be physically stronger, flinging Le Maire to the canvas from the clinch to gain the upper hand.

The Suffolk fighter battled valiantly, frequently catching his foe’s kicks and sweep kicking him to the floor, but ultimately the Russian was just too strong.

Le Maire thus finished with a silver medal, an incredible achievement at an event of such magnitude.

Turner said: “The whole experience was such an inspiration. Joe and I are determined to qualify for next year’s team.

“Being a world champion is a brilliant feeling – I never thought I could get to this stage.

“I didn’t want to let everyone down. I had been training hard for months and I didn’t want to go home without that gold medal – it meant a lot to me.

“I wanted to show that I could do it and make everyone proud, especially my family.”

Coach Rich Gent said: “What these two have achieved is amazing. I’m chuffed to bits for them both – they’ve come so far.

“Hannah’s opponent was awkward, but she was just in one of those ‘I’m not losing’ moods and marched forward with low kicks which hurt her opponent.

“Joe gave the Russian kid a hell of a fight, but he was just a bit bigger and stronger.”

When asked how far the duo could go, Gent said: “It’s down to them.

“They’re at that age where everything becomes a temptation, but if they stick at it they can go to the senior world championships, turn pro and the sky’s the limit.”

- If you’re interested in Thai Boxing, visit unit1gym.com, call 01284 760468 or visit the gym in Kempson Way.

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