Twelve months ago Charlie Maddock and Rachelle Booth, were still getting to grips with WTF taekwondo when they entered the National Championships in Manchester.
But the former kick boxer from Stoke and the ex ITF Taekwondo practitioner from Wigan showed they were fast learners.
Maddock won the -53kg title and Booth succeeded at -62kg: the catalyst for a fabulous 12 months that now sees them as major contenders on a global stage.
Neither Maddock, Britain’s first ever female gold medal winner at the European Games, and World Championship bronze medallist, Booth, are expected to defend their domestic crowns when Manchester hosts the 2015 edition of the Nationals this weekend.
However, the two-day event at the world renowned National Cycling Centre and due to attract more than 700 competitors of all ages and weights, could prove to be the launch pad for similar success to aspiring champions and possible Tokyo 2020 Olympians.
The forthcoming WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Turkey has ensured some other big names, including -87kg title holder and London 2012 bronze medallist, Lutalo Muhammad, will be missing.
But there are plenty of current GB Academy players who will be mixing it with top club athletes, the length and breadth of Britain.
Ben Haines, a bronze medal winner at last weekend’s Israel Open, is back to defend his title at -74kg while Scot and 2014 National silver medal winner, Lyle Walker, has designs on the +87kg title about to be relinquished by Mahama Cho.
Max Cater, one of the Academy’s young kids on the block, is also in action at the NCC. Cater, 18 on the 18th of this month, is the current Commonwealth champion in addition to a medallist this year in: Bosnia, Turkey, Switzerland and Australia.
For the first time at the Championships, able bodied athletes will fight alongside their para-taekwondo colleagues. There are three scheduled weight divisions (for men):61kg, -75kg and +75 while the women will compete at: -49kg, -58kg and +58kg.
Classification for para athletes will take place on Saturday with competitions taking place on Sunday.
Admission for all events costs £12 per day for adults and £ 7 for children (15 and under). For more information click here.