A SCHOOLGIRL from South Norwood has been selected to represent England at the Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships. Georgia Stanley's call-up is the latest chapter in an inspiring story which began when, as a nine-year-old, she took up the sport after being diagnosed with learning difficulties. At the time she was a pupil at Heavers Farm Primary, in South Norwood, and her PE teacher was Richard Allen, the ten times British taekwondo champion who represented Team GB in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Georgia, now 14, found she had a natural talent for martial arts, despite struggling with her coordination because of her condition, and began to be coached by Mr Allen, who describes her as having "untouchable perseverance", outside of school. Following her selection for November's event, Frances Stanley, Georgia's mother, spoke with pride about her daughter's achievement. "I was genuinely stunned when Richard told me," she said. "A feeling of immense pride went over me to know my child was one of those selected. "It shows that no matter what kind of disability you have, if you want something bad enough and you work at it, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to." Georgia, of Merton Road, South Norwood, now studies at Bensham Manor, a special school in Thornton Heath for pupils with moderate learning difficulties and autism. She trains at Heavers Farm twice a week and a further two days as a member of the Allen Taekwondo Academy at Thornton Heath Leisure Centre. Georgia will compete in the para-sport category of the Poomsae discipline, a branch of taekwondo in which participants are judged for form and technique rather than taking part in bouts. Miss Stanley says the sport has had a huge impact on her daughter's life. "When she was first diagnosed as having a moderate learning difficulty it was suggested she take up a martial art because it helps with her coordination," she said. "I worried about how long she would keep it up for as I know what children are like – they start things off and get bored really quickly. But she stuck with it and it has taken over her life. I'm very proud of how far she has come." Georgia is one of four students coached by Richard Allen to have been selected by British Taekwondo. Mr Allen told the Advertiser: "Georgia is fully dedicated, incredibly persistent. Her perseverance is untouchable. "If there's ever a disappointment that might make others give up she bounces straight back. Coming from where she was, to where she is now, is wonderful I'm over the moon for her." Georgia, whose idol is London 2012 gold medallist Jade Jones, hopes to one day compete in the Paralympic Games. "I like taekwondo because it's really active and keeps you fit," she said. "When I started sparring I got really passionate about it." Georgia's training and participation are entirely funded by her family. To help, visit http://www.gofundme.com/aywzw0
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