Youth Olympics: Powell at head of a Yorkshire quartet in Argentina

Aaliyah Powell
Aaliyah Powell
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Aaliyah Powell’s passport is quickly being adorned with stamps from destinations around the world.

Tunisia and Austria have been added and now Argentina awaits.

Sheffield golfer Joe Pagdin

Sheffield golfer Joe Pagdin

Not bad considering the Taekwondo star is still aged just 15.

But arguably her biggest assignment awaits today when the reigning world champion competes in Buenos Aires in the third edition of the Youth Olympic Games (YOGs).

Huddersfield’s Powell has only been competing in the sport for five years, but has already secured the British and world titles.

Now she is preparing for her biggest tournament to date with her sights firmly set on sealing another gold medal to add to her ever-growing haul of trophies and plaudits.

It would be nice to get the full set with the Olympic medal first.

Aaliyah Powell

The Games, which got underway with Saturday’s opening ceremony and run until October 18, will be contested by just under 4,000 athletes aged between 14 and 18 and provide a crucial multi-sport experience for aspiring Olympians.

Team GB’s class of 2018, which consists of 42 young athletes, will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tom Daley (diving) and Jade Jones (taekwondo) who both went on to win medals at an Olympic Games having first competed at a YOG.

A recent trip to Manchester to take part in a Team GB training camp sowed the seeds of Powell’s desire to qualify for the Olympics proper, whether that be Tokyo in 2020 or Paris four years later.

“There will be people that never get to pull on that Team GB kit so this could be a really good springboard for her,” Powell’s mother Sharon told The Yorkshire Post.

Leeds boxer Ivan 'Hope' Price.' (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Leeds boxer Ivan 'Hope' Price.' (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“Being in the athletes’ village and in that kind of environment among other elite kids in the world will only be a plus for her.

“Being around full-time athletes in Manchester has really inspired her.

“Competing in the YOGs and having won titles, she can carry ranking points from youth to the senior ranks.

“It would be nice to get the full set with the Olympic medal first.”

Powell’s preparations for this month’s extravaganza could not have gone much better.

April saw her venture to Tunisia to take part in successive tournaments; first the qualifiers for the YOGs and then the World Championships the week after.

She impressed sufficiently in the former, competing in the under-49kg category where only an injury niggle prevented her from competing in the semi-final stage.

The following week she shrugged off the knock and went on to became world champion.

Her mother added: “She had a small injury after the quarter-finals so we pulled her out, knowing that she had the world championships the week after.

“In the end it worked because she became world champion the week after.”

Powell, who studies at Shelley College, trains at Penistone’s Quest gym five times a week, working on her strength and conditioning under the tutelage of Mike McKenzie, who was the sport manager for Taekwondo at the London Olympics in 2012.

Powell will be joined out in Buenos Aires by three fellow Yorkshire stars.

Flordia-based Joe Pagdin, 16, born in Sheffield, will compete in the golf, 17-year-old Toby Price, from York, competes in the modern pentathlon and Leeds’s Ivan Price, 18, takes part in the boxing.

Boxer Price is heading to Buenos Aires fully confident of securing flyweight gold after pinching silver in controversial circumstances at the recent Worlds in Hungary.

He said: “One hundred per cent I think I can win the gold at the Youth Olympics, especially from how I performed in the worlds.”

Pagdin, who moved to the US at the age of three, practises regularly with the likes of Ryder Cup player Ian Poulter and major champion Graeme McDowell in Florida.

Toby Price, meanwhile, qualified for the Games thanks to an eighth-placed finish at the Under-19 World Championships in April.

That result came off the back of an excellent 12 months domestically and internationally for the Yorkshire Pentathlon Club athlete, which also saw him claim victory at the 2018 British Modern Tetrathlon Championships.