SHIREBROOK kickboxer Natalia Rea has set her sights on coming back home with gold after being selected for the kickboxing world championships later this year.
Natalia is one of six female athletes selected to compete for England at the ISKA Amateur World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands, at the end of October.
The 16-year-old Shirebrook Academy pupil won her place earlier this month after coming third at the ISKA Amateur Kickboxing Championships in Birmingham.
It will be the second time that Natalia, who lives in Warsop and is the reigning English champion, has competed against fighters all over the world.
Four years ago she picked up two bronzes at the world championships in Florida, but is aiming to go for the top prize this time round.
Her dad, Carl, runs the Black Dragons martial arts club in Warsop and her older sisters were already participating, and Natalia was persuaded to join in.
She said: “At the time I was being bullied at school and my dad suggested I should start kickboxing. I was unsure about it at first, but I took to it and started to enjoy it.
“It’s a really good sport, because it helps you to get rid of stress and keeps you fit. I was quite timid when I was younger and it gradually gave me confidence to stick up for myself.”
Natalia, who is a Black Belt Second Dan and an instructor at Black Dragons, believes that the toughest challenge at the world championships is likely to come from the Canadian team.
To prepare, she will increase her training regime from three to five times a week and will stick to a training diet in order to get to her fighting weight.
She said: “I just remember from last time how the Canadian fighters were bigger and, although size isn’t always important in kickboxing, they were the toughest to fight as well.
“I got bronzes last time and I want to get gold, or at least silver, this time round. I have already started to train more days a week and have been travelling to different clubs to get more experience of fighting against different people.
“I am also looking to reduce my weight, which means I am going to have to cut out chocolate and start eating some proper meals!”