An eight-year-old girl has won three world titles in taekwondo and set her sights on Olympic gold – after taking up the sport to help calm her rage.
Olivia McCuish started taekwondo aged just three and flew up the ranks – training alongside adults by the time she was five.
Proud mum Emma, 42, said Olivia would use her stepbrother Kristopher, 17, as a punching bag growing up.
Health and safety manager Emma stared taking Olivia to taekwondo classes after she became frustrated with the lack of conversation with the kids in her nursery.
The youngster has worked her way up to a red belt in the sport – just one step below a black belt.
Olivia used lockdown to focus on her taekwondo, training every single day in the spare room – which her parents turned into a gym.
Emma said: “She was a bit of an angry child and she used to get really frustrated with the lack of conversation with the kids in nursery.
“They weren’t able to hold a conversation with her.
“We were told she should maybe go to out of school classes.
“There’s the Brownies and all that kind of stuff but one of our family members said their niece did taekwondo.
“Martial arts is really good for self control, controlling situations and we thought that might be a shout.
“We took her along a week after her third birthday – they have to be three to enrol.
“When I picked her up she was jumping up and down asking ‘Can I stay?’
“She was in the little Tiger Cubs class and she just started to excel – she had a thing for it.
“She then moved on to the Active Tigers who train with the adults.
“She is now a red belt so she is going for a blackbelt.
“She now trains five times a week at Polmont, Bo’ness and Grangemouth.
“It is the same instructor so she goes to all her classes.
“She lives and breathes it.
“When we told her, when she was nearly six, the world championships were going to be in the UK, well that was it, that was what she wanted to do.
“They had to be a green belt – she was a yellow belt which was lower than required.
“She put herself forward for her grading, got it and four weeks later went to the championships and won her first title in 2019.”
She won another in 2020 and again in 2021 fending off competitors from Australia America, Asia, Portugal and Malaysia.
Olivia – known by her taekwondo family as Miss O – picked up her most recent award as a red tag and has now progressed to a red belt.
She has her sights set on Olympic glory after watching taekwondo at the 2021 games.
Emma said: “There were a lot of kids who went off the boil during lockdown – the interest drops.
“She made the best she could from the lockdown.
“We turned a room into a gym and set up the computer so she could do online classes where she was training every day.
“She was entering the online competitions – the world is your oyster when it’s online.
“Proud is not even a word I can use to describe it.
“She has got her sights set on the Olympics.
“She watched it and was quite critical of it.”