Taekwondo star headed to world championships

Emily Stellino’s parents wanted her to learn Taekwondo for self-defence after she was bullied at school.

Now the 17-year-old from St Helens Park will represent Australia at the Taekwondo World Championships in Korea this June.

Emily said she was looking forward to the competition.

“I’m looking to gain more experience and pick up some new things,” she said.

“I’ll be competing against the best of the best.

“Taekwondo originated in Korea and they (Korea) are one of the top high-ranking teams.”

Emily will compete alongside and against Olympians from across the world.

She has been the national champion for the past three years and represented Australia in the junior world championships in Canada last year.

Her “ultimate dream” is to represent Australia at the Olympics.

“My coach Master Ali Khalil is also the Olympic coach and I train with two Olympians,” she said.

“My goal is to join the Australian Olympic team in 2020 or 2024.”

After being bullied Emily said the sport had helped her through.

She said she loved the sport and the friends she had made.

“Mum and dad wanted me to learn it to defend myself but after the first lesson I loved it,” she said.

“I love the encouragement and the support.”

The busy year 12 student trains for 14 hours a week, studies and works casually in the local area.

Emily became a black belt just last year.

“It almost killed me,” she said.

“The grading lasted five hours in 30 degree heat but it felt amazing to actually get it.”