Patrick gets a kick out of meeting coach

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 14:45 21/02/2013
Southland Times photo
LOUISE BERWICK/Fairfax NZ
Patrick Hanson-Friend, 12, holds his letter of invitation from Master Oh and his taekwondo black belt certificate.

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A Southland boy is another step closer to reaching his Olympic dream after impressing New Zealand's taekwondo Olympic head coach.

Taekwondo black belt, Patrick Hanson-Friend, 12, gave up a week of his summer holidays to train in Auckland with three-time New Zealand Olympic taekwondo head coach Jin Keun Oh, a chance that could help him get to the Olympics.

Last week he received a letter from Master Oh inviting him back to Auckland to continue to train for week-long stints.

The 12-year-old said it was an honour to meet and train under the acclaimed coach, who was impressed with Patrick's ability.

While the James Hargest pupil will have to juggle his taekwondo with his school work, his parents are busy thinking of ways to fundraise to get their son to Auckland four times a year for the training sessions with Master Oh.

Patrick is the best in his age group in the country, and picked up a silver medal at the Australian Open Taekwondo Championships last year, but it is hard for him to find competitors in Invercargill at the same skill level and in the same weight category as him.

Training in Auckland gave him the chance to compete against people on a level playing field.

"It was just amazing up there," he said.

He said the training was tough and being away from his family was also hard, but it was worth it.

"It was inspiring for me, he [Master Oh] was real cool."

While the Olympics are a few years away for the young athlete, his sights are set on the event and the training camp has motivated him even more, he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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