Sheffield martial arts champion, nine, sets her sights on Olympic glory
Nine-year-old Caitlin Gillott has set her sights on Olympic success - after becoming a champion in martial arts.
Caitlin, of Richmond, won the -23kg category gold medal for girls aged up 11 at the British National Taekwondo contest, putting her on the path to future sporting glory.
Her proud mum Michelle said: “I’m very proud, I think people get fed up with me. It’s just amazing, my daughter became a national champion - I still can’t believe it.”
She revealed her daughter had been inspired by double Olympic medal-winning taekwondo ace Jade Jones.
“She’s been obsessed with Jade, especially in this last Olympics in Rio. She’s been first in line a few times to meet her, we got some photos of them together, and Jade even gave her some of her body armour.”
Caitlin won bronze last year but this time around she left the tournament at London’s Copper Box Arena a winner.
“I felt sick all day, I couldn’t eat or drink,” said Michelle. “When Caitlin won she broke down in tears and Scott, her instructor, picked her up. Even parents from the other teams were crying. It was such an intense moment. It did not hit me till later, after I’d sat down. Then I started crying.”
Michelle, 25, and dad Lee, 36, are now trying to get some sponsorship for Caitlin so she can go and fight in the European Championships in Rotterdam.
“It would be nice to take her abroad. We are still looking for a sponsor, so she can get some better equipment as well taking trips to tournaments.
“She can’t join Team GB until she is 12 but that’s what we are working towards,” said Michelle, who home-schools Caitlin from 9am to 2pm every day, before training for two hours in the evening.
Caitlin started at the Kangchul Blackbelt Academy in Rotherham when she was six years old, a year after the 2012 Olympics. She now does taekwondo training six times a week.
She was still only eight when she won the gold medal in London in September.
Her instructor Scott Coullie said they had not had a national champion at his academy for ‘a very long time’, but he felt Caitlin was destined for the British Olympic team.
“She’s got a few years to go yet but it is looking good,” he predicted.
“In her second fight of the four it took to win the gold, the other team pulled their girl out as they didn’t fancy fighting her. Caitlin is always up for it though. She’s always ready.”
Caitlin herself has a very clear ultimate goal: “I’ve already won the nationals, so yes - it’s to win the Olympics.”