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Golden girl Leonie makes GB history
2:00pm Thursday 27th September 2012 in Sport
A TEENAGER who trains in Knutsford has made history by becoming the first member of Great Britain’s Muaythai team to win World Championship gold.
Leonie Hardman beat off tough competition against older girls older to take top prize at the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA) World Championships in Russia.
“I was delighted to win, so much so that I cried,” said the 16-year-old.
“I have trained really hard for this, only having half a day or occasionally a day off training for it.
“I knew I could do it but did not expect to.”
Hardman has trained six days a week at the Supergym base at Egerton Youth Club, on Mereheath Lane, where former European champion Ric Barnhill is the youngster’s coach and mentor.
He was in St Petersburg to watch her beat Turkish fighter Sezer Tugce in the final of the junior 51kg category.
“It was my first big tournament abroad,” added Hardman.
“I was nervous about performing, but Ric told me I had worked so hard in the gym and was fit enough to show I could do.
“I don’t think I could have won it if he hadn’t been there.”
Barnhill, who has European K1 Super Welterweight titles to his own name, was delighted to see his protégé succeed.
He said: “It is the first British gold medallist out of every championship we have attended so it is a really big achievement.
“The final was close but Leonie stuck to her game plan; she knew she was faster and scoring a lot better than her opponent.
“She is a smart girl and listened to everything we told her in the corner.”