East Ham teen has Rio dream

PUBLISHED: 08:25 11 September 2015

Seven Kings pupil chasing taekwondo glory

East Ham’s Thangaeswaran Nithirajah admits a strong performance at this weekend’s British Taekwondo Championships could act as a vital boost for his Rio 2016 dreams.

With the countdown to next year’s Olympics firmly on, success in Manchester would not only shine a light on Nithirajah’s potential, but also bolster his chances of appearing at the Under-21 European Championships in Bucharest in November.

The 17-year-old Seven Kings High School pupil has just started competing in senior events this year and although the chances of making the Olympics next year are slim, he hasn’t given up hope.

“I have just turned senior so the nationals is a big step up and the Europeans is a good start at international level in the senior division,” he said.

“I have been to the Europeans four times before so I am familiar with the set-up so it is not going to be too overwhelming.

“Every championships includes new competitors with different strengths and weaknesses so I know it will be difficult.

“I want to medal at both. It would be good to get gold at the Nationals and in the Europeans I want to medal. I have just missed out on a medal twice before so this time I don’t want to. I want that medal.”

Nthirajah is a fast-emerging taekwondo star, making the quarter-finals of both the Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships and European Under-21 Championships last year.

A hamstring injury picked up at the tournament ruled him out of the English National Championships in March but back to full fitness, Nithirajah is aiming high.

“My long-term ambition is to get to the Olympics, medal at the Olympics and also medal at the World Championships,” he added.

“I want to become a part of the senior team for a long time to come.

“If I could get into the 2016 Olympics that would be great but if not then the 2020 and 2024 Games.

“I think they have already selected players for Rio but they are still finalising so if I perform at the Under-21s this year, I might have a chance to get in to the Olympic squad.”

*SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen.

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