Winning is nothing new to two Palmerston North 13-year-olds who train hard and compete even harder in their chosen sport of Taekwon-Do. Jessica Sutton caught up with the pair.
It takes self-control, perseverance and discipline to master the art of Taekwon-Do.
Robert Bruce and Matt Bowden have just returned from Hobart in Tasmania with medals dangling around their necks after competing in the 2012 International Taekwon-Do Federation Oceania Championships.
Matt won three medals, a bronze, silver and gold, and Robert won two gold medals.
The medals are won in different disciplines that include sparring, patterns, special technique and power breaking.
Both boys are part of the Southern Cross Taekwon-Do Academy and attend Palmerston North Boys' High School. They got involved with the sport when they were at College St Normal School. They attend two lessons a week for up to two hours long at St James School.
Taekwon-Do is different from the taekwondo performed at the Olympic Games.
There are technical differences between the two, which include different pattern, sets of prescribed formal sequences of movements and philosophies.
Matt has been taking lessons for four years and got into the sport because his dad, Nathan, started Taekwon-Do as a teenager and still practises it now.
"It's fun," Matt says.
"I love the competitions and getting to compete against other people. It's also great fitness."
Robert has been learning the martial art for three and half years and says he got into it because Matt had encouraged him to try it out.
"It's enjoyable," he says.
"I wanted to give up there for a bit, but Dad told me I had to keep going because you can learn the main things in life from the sport. They are self-control, perseverance and discipline."
Within a day of being home from Australia, the boys competed in the Under 18 National Tournament in Levin on Saturday.
They earned themselves another five medals. Matt won two golds and a silver, and Robert got a gold and bronze medal.
Their instructor Lawrence Mantjika says the boys have the ability to go to the world championships.
"I absolutely think Matt should get into the [New Zealand] development squad for the worlds next year in Spain."
He says the boys have done well to still be pursuing the sport, as many young people drop away.
Mr Mantjika has been teaching the martial art since 1989 and has competed in five world championship events for the sport.
The boys were part of a team from Palmerston North that went to the Oceania Championships that also included black belts Dane Canton, 23, who won three gold medals and Matt's father, who won two silver medals.
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