TAEKWONDO is proving a golden sport for Steven Birkin.

Initially rejected by clubs due to his failing eyesight, he has found a home with the Horizon Taekwondo Academy and has become a real winner.

The 48-year-old retired British Forces veteran from Shipley has won all six of his competitions since discovering the sport at Horizon's training base in Baildon last year.

"It has given me something to focus on," said Birkin, who lost the majority of his vision a few years ago.

He was crowned British national champion and won the Vienna Open in Austria not long after taking up the sport.

Birkin, who is a member of the Great Britain Para Taekwondo Poomsae team, has also triumphed at the Harrogate Open.

Now Birkin, who won the Disability Sportsperson of the Year category at the Provident Bradford Sports Awards at Valley Parade, is looking forward to the World Championships in Taiwan in November.

"It would be nice to win a silver some day," laughed Birkin, who is coached by Lee Kay at Horizon.

Highly commended in his category were fellow taekwondo student Farah Yasin and Special Olympics competitor Nathan O'Mara.

Fellow GB competitor Yasin, who also won at Harrogate, became the UK's first wheelchair athlete to become British taekwondo champion.

Athlete O'Mara won a 100 and 200 metres track sprint double at the Special Olympics Great Britain National Championships last August.

The Young Male Sportsperson of the Year award went to trampolinist Harrison Green, who was crowned British champion aged 16.

In doing so, he gained a qualifying score for the World Age Group Championships, finishing the competition with his best-ever half-out Pike Miller move, going on to represent Great Britain in Bulgaria last November.

Highly commended in the category were taekwondo star Jamie Kidd, who regularly overcomes pain to compete, and gymnast Jack Stanley.

Immanuel College pupil Stanley, who trains for 27 hours a week, was selected for his Great Britain debut in Germany last year, winning on the under-14 rings and coming second overall in Cottbus, and has also been included in the British Gymnastics Elite Performance Squad.

Diver Holly Waxman won the Young Female Sportsperson of the Year award, taking gold and silver in the Seven Nations Youth Meet, bagging silver in a prestigious meet in Dresden and finishing an excellent fourth at the Junior European Championships.

"It is quite nerve wracking competing against seniors," admitted the 15-year-old City of Bradford Esprit Diving Club member. "But I will have to get used to it, hopefully in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo."

Highly commended were Cullingworth taekwondo ace Ellie Bowden and Addingham swimmer Hermione Roe, who is ranked No 1 in her age group for breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley over various distances.

The 12-year-old City of Bradford Swimming Club member gets up five days a week at 4am to train at Shipley Pool.

A pupil at Woodhouse Grove School, she revealed: "Pupils who travel to school normally only get toast for breakfast there. But because they know that I am a swimmer, I get a full English like all of the boarders! My aim is to compete in Tokyo."

One of the best moments was the Young Disability Sportsperson of the Year award, won by seven-year-old cyclist Josh Pullen, who has left-sided hemiplegia, which is caused by injury to parts of the brain.

He showed great stamina, strength and technique to complete a 20-mile bike ride with his dad to raise money to compete in the Special Olympics, where he finished with a gold and silver medal.

Highly commended were footballer Carter Roberts, who does not let various health issues get him down, and Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure member T-Jay Wilson, who won gold in the National Summer Games in Sheffield last year, despite being on a pony he had never ridden before.



Sportsman – Winner: Mohammed Harris Akbar. Highly commended: John Bateman, Jonny Bairstow.

Sportswoman – Winner: Katelyn Entwistle. Highly commended: Amy Hardcastle, Rebekah Tiler.

Disability Sportsperson – Winner: Steven Birkin. Highly commended: Farah Yasin, Nathan O’Mara.

Club/Team (non-professional) – Winner: Bradford Barracudas. Highly commended: East Bradford Cycling Club, Phoenix Women’s Football Team.

Club/Team (professional) – Winner: Bradford Bulls Women. Highly commended: Bradford City.


Young Male Sportsperson – Winner: Harrison Green. Highly commended: Jack Stanley, Jamie Simpson-Kidd.

Young Female Sportsperson – Winner: Holly Waxman. Highly commended: Ellie Bowden, Hermione Roe.

Young Disability Sportsperson – Winner: Josh Pullen. Highly commended: Carter Roberts, T-Jay Wilson.

Young Club/Team – Winner: Horizon Taekwondo. Highly commended: City of Bradford Esprit Diving Club, Team Xtreme Cheer and Dance.


Active Lifestyle – Joint winners: Catherine McKendrick, Jodie Carter.

Active Workplace – Winner: University of Bradford Union of Students. Highly commended: City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

Active Schools – Winner: Girlington Primary School. Highly commended: Baildon Church of England Primary School, Newhall Park Primary School.

Student Club/Team – Winner: Carlton Bolling Girls’ Cricket Team. Highly commended: Bradford University Men’s Football Club, University of Bradford Men’s Lacrosse Team.


Coach – Winner: Mally McIver. Highly commended: Joe Meszaros, Mark Prescott, Zaheer Jaffary.

Volunteer – Winner: Mark Lightowler. Highly commended: Linda Bussey, Mandy Parker.

Sporting Highlight – Winner: Bradford Bulls Women. Highly commended: Bradford Barracudas Dragonboat Team, Bradford Disability Sport-Special Olympics National Summer Games Team.

Special Recognition – Winner: John Galt. Highly commended: Andy Watmuff.