Amber Hill taekwondo star Megan Featherstone is aiming to show that she is a smarter, more dangerous fighter when she competes in South Yorkshire this weekend.
Megan, 17, is out to ‘surprise my opponents’ at the Scorpion Open in Barnsley on Sunday, when she competes in her first major tournament for three months.
The road back from toe ligament surgery last June has been a long and frustrating one for the sport and exercise science student at Boston College, although there was also a possible pointer to better things ahead after Megan collected an unexpected bronze medal at the Yorkshire Open in April.
Megan said: “It was a very difficult fight for my first one back up against an old rival in Leah Moorby (of Team Ultimate Taekwondo, Doncaster) who is a very high-standard player.
“We were rivals in the 59kg juniors so we’ve fought against each other many times and the scores were always close.
“I just wanted to go out, enjoy it and not worry about the score.”
Dad and coach Jason Featherstone, lead instructor at Quest Taekwondo Boston and recently promoted to 2nd Dan blackbelt, said: “Megan went into the tournament at 57kg but because another fighter couldn’t make the weight, she had to go up to 62kg in the senior category.
“She wasn’t expecting to come away with a medal, she just wanted to see how the foot would go.
“Winning a medal showed that she could mix it with the older players at a tournament where you’ve got to be on your game.”
Megan and Jason have been putting in dedicated training at Quest Taekwondo’s headquarters in Sheffield on the back of recent workshops with GB Taekwondo’s Olympic Games prospect Mahama Cho, who will fight in the 80kg heavyweight division in Rio de Janeiro next month.
“The GB Taekwondo session with Mahamo Cho was incredible,” Megan said.
“I learned something new which was how to improve certain fighting techniques in competitions.”
Jason added: “There’s a big difference between children’s fighting and adult’s fighting where it’s more technical and more of a chess game.
“It’s about trying to draw the other player into making a mistake and you have to think more.
“We’re still progressing on that with Megan because if she’s not got it in her head, she won’t have it in the fight and that’s where Megan has to be confident in what she’s doing.”
Arguably, Megan will be a perfect place to do well at the Barnsley Metrodome on Sunday.
Megan said: “I’m extremely happy and my training is going very well, currently doing two cardio sessions and a pad-kicking session daily.
“My diet is working and I feel prepared, fit and strong, although I’m quite nervous about the Scorpion Open as this is only my second tournament back after my surgery.
“But I’m looking forward to making my comeback after a hard year out and I’ve been working very hard, but secretly, to surprise my opponents.”