Quintet combine college studies with martial arts success
Meet the teenagers who are combining their studies at Mansfield’s West Nottinghamshire College with kicking, punching and grappling their way to martial arts glory.
The quintet of Molly Cooper, Holly Felton, Jack Kelly, Charlie Young and Annalea Bearder boast a string of world, European and national championship titles, while two of them are even in contention for a place at the Olympic Games.
Kickboxer Molly, 16, from Kirkby, has established herself as one of the two 40 female fighters in the world thanks to a stunning record of more than 40 titles.
A multi-times world champion, she gained her most recent successes at the Austrian Classics Kickboxing World Cup, where she defended four gold medals she won the previous year.
She said: “I was so proud because I am now competing in the women’s categories where the standard of the opposition is so high. From a young age, I have had a determination to win all the titles I possibly can.”
A black belt second dan, Molly has been kickboxing since the age of five and also took up taekwondo last year. She has already been picked for the GB Taekwondo development squad and has a chance of being selected for the 2024 Olympics.
Holly, 18, from Sutton, competes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has progressed to purple belt after winning numerous titles, including gold medals at European and national championships, and the British Open.
She also plays rugby for Ashfield, and her success is even more commendable because she has autism. She said: “I’m really pleased with what I have achieved so far. It shows that having a disability shouldn’t stop you from achieving what others can.”
Jack, 17, from Warsop, practises judo and has won a host of medals at national and regional championships since being inspired to take up the sport by his father, Ian. His proudest moment was when he achieved his brown belt.
Another judo star is Olympics contender and multiple British champion Charlie, 17, from Alfreton, while Annalea, 17, from Hucknall, has enjoyed lots of success in kickboxing.