A RISING teenage star of the Taekwondo world has returned home from a major competition with a gold medal.

To the delight of her family and friends, Rebecca Battista was the winner of the -59kg cadet category at the Dutch Open Taekwondo Championships 2020.

Dallam School pupil Rebecca, 13, travelled to Eindhoven in the Netherlands with her mum Vicky, dad Mark and younger sister Holly, eight, as well as her club, Quest Taekwondo, based near Sheffield.

The teenager, who lives in Kendal, made her start in the Olympic sport four years ago with Milnthorpe club Enso Taekwondo, under the expert instruction of coach Steven Grabeck.

As her talents grew, she began attending renowned club Quest Taekwondo each Saturday in South Yorkshire, so she could take part in larger competitions.

The club's coach and founder Mike McKenzie was technical operations manager for Taekwondo at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Rebecca's mum Vicky, who has also taken up the Korean martial art for fitness, said her daughter's role model in the sport was 2016 Team GB Olympic bronze medallist Bianca Walkden. Bianca is to compete at this year's Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Vicky, who works as an income officer at South Lakes Housing, said Rebecca's Dutch Masters gold medal was the "first stage" of her hoped-for journey towards the Olympics.

She described the atmosphere in Eindhoven as "electric" and said she was so excited when Rebecca overcame her nerves to win the gold medal, she "nearly jumped over the railings".

Vicky said she and her husband Mark, a 2nd Dan in Taekwondo and now a mentor in the sport, were "chuffed to bits" at how well the teenager was doing.

"If she works really, really hard she could do the 2024 Olympic Games or 2028," said Vicky.

"Once you get so many points you can get picked for the GB team. The more competitions you do, the more points you get. But you have to be exceptional."

Vicky said Rebecca, a black belt, was very "determined" to succeed. She said she was "getting better all the time" and was managing to juggle her Taekwondo with her schoolwork, her favourite subjects being English and sport.