Taekwondo stars shine at championships

Age was no barrier for one of the youngest nor the oldest martial artist at Parramatta's Ace Taekwondo Academy at Sydney Olympic Park on April 6.

Merrylands athlete Amari Bednarek, 7, won silver in the girls' 8-9 years yellow belt 22-25 kilogram division at the taekwondo state championships. Emmanouel Stamos, 53, also of Merrylands, claimed first place in the men's over-40s blue belt 74-80 kilogram division.

"He's 53 but he's fit as a 20-year-old," said academy instructor Rohullah Tamas of Emmanouel. "He's just amazing, his kicks are so fast."

Tamas, himself a taekwondo black belt, said both were talented athletes and Emmanouel would compete in the nationals in August.

Amari, a student at Toongabbie Christian School, took up the sport less than a year ago after watching her older brothers from the sidelines during training sessions at Parramatta PCYC.

"She always sat on the stage and watched. Then one day I just asked her if she wanted to do it too," said Amari's dad Charlie. "She's been doing it herself ever since."

Mr Bednarek said his daughter had a "big smile from ear to ear" after her second place.

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