IN the first of our Bradford sports stars questionnaires, 11-year-old taekwondo talent Gina Bene-Hamill tells us about her biggest influences, competing for Great Britain, how sport is in her blood and Stormzy.

Name: Gina Bene-Hamill

Date of Birth: 04-08-2008

Place of birth: Leeds

Area I live: Pudsey

Schools/colleges/universities I have attended: St. Joseph’s RC Primary School Pudsey, St. Mary’s Menston High School

Team/club I compete for: Horizon Taekwondo Academy

Previous teams/clubs: Quest Taekwondo

Any trophies won or honours gained (with whom and when):

Gold: Nationals 2018 (Sheffield)

Silver: Nationals 2019 (Manchester)

Bronze: European President's Cup for Children 2019 (Germany)

Gold: Yorkshire Open 2020 (Halifax)

Silver: Lanarkshire Open 2020 (Scotland)

Caroline Facer Award 2018

Gold: Scorpion Open 2018

Bronze: WLM Open 2019

Bronze: All Stars Open 2019

Bronze: Horizon Open 2019

Silver: Horizon Open 2018

Silver: Horizon Open 2018

Gold: Welsh Open 2019

Gold: Scottish Open 2017

Bronze: Scottish Open 2018

Bronze: Scottish Open 2019

Black Belt 1st Dan

Black Belt 2nd Dan

Bradford U18s Female Sportswoman of the Year: Highly-commended 2019 and 2020

And now for our questions:

Q1: When did you first start doing your sport and what attracted you to it?

A: When I was five years old, my dad encouraged me and my sister to start martial arts because we were threatened in the park by a boy with a stick.

Q2: What do you enjoy most about competing for your current team/club?

A: Making my friends and family proud. At my club we are all encouraged to do our best and help each other.

Q3: What’s been the highlight of your sporting days so far?

A: Becoming National Champion in 2018 and getting into the GB cadet squad for 2020.

Q4: Who do you look up to in your sport and why?

A: Lauren Williams, because before she started her taekwondo career, like me, she was a dancer and has now gone on to win many world-renowned championships.

Q5: Who has had the most influence on you in your sport and in what way?

A: My coach Rick, because he believed in me from the beginning and has encouraged and trained me to be a better fighter.

Q6: What’s your aims in your sport?

A: To represent Great Britain at a major European or World event.

Q7: What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of participating in your sport?

A: You have to be 100 per cent committed to train even if you’re not in the best mood. Though after I have trained, I always seem to feel better.

Q8: Who’s your sporting hero and why?

A: Lauren Williams, because she is a tough fighter and great to watch. And I have trained with her twice.

Q9: What are your best qualities in your sport?

A: I am very flexible which helps me to land kicks. My coach says that I always give 110 per cent. My parents say that I am so determined and never give up.

Q10: What other sports have you played and what were your achievements?

A: I played football for Farsley Celtic and won the league and lifted the cup as captain. Now I play for Soccer aKIDemy (in Allerton). I did street dance and freestyle, tap, ballet, gymnastics and swimming too.

Q11: If you could change one rule in your sport what would it be and why?

A: If you touch the ground with your hand or back as you land a kick, you don’t get penalised and lose a point.

Q12: What’s been the most memorable event/match you’ve participated in?

A: Representing Britain at the European President’s Cup for Children in Germany.

Q13: How would you sum up/describe the team that you compete for?

A: Great to be around, give me lots of confidence and help me improve my skills.

Q14: Tell us something about you that your teammates wouldn’t know?

A: That I always do TikToks with my sister.

Q15: Do you have a set routine in terms of preparation on a match day?

A: I have waffles and Nutella in the morning to give me a boost of energy. Once we arrive at the arena, we have a whole team warm-up to prepare us for the day ahead. I have to make sure I am eating and drinking the right amount of good things for me. I sometimes listen to music (mostly Stormzy) as I am doing my single warm-up before I fight.

Q16: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Be the best that you can be! Our Horizon club motto.

Q17: What’s the worst part of training for you?

A: It’s hard work, but that’s what makes us better.

Q18: What would you say is the easiest part of playing your sport?

A: There isn’t much of it that is easy because our coaches always work us hard. Though probably the stretching because I am so flexible.

Q19: If you could choose to play your sport at any venue in the world, where would it be and why?

A: Wherever the Olympics are held.

Q20: How much of your life does your sport take up?

A: I train every single day. Sometimes at the training hall, sometimes at home, sometimes at the GB camp. Then there’s competitions at the weekends in the UK and overseas.

Q21: If you had a celebrity fan, who would you want it to be and why?

A: I’m not really bothered about fans because I wouldn’t be able to hear them cheering. I zone out and only hear my coach.

Q22: What or who motivates you ahead of a match/event?

A: My team-mates and my dad. Obviously, my coach too.

Q23: Do you have a motto that you follow in your sport?

A: Be the best that you can be!

Q24: What lessons for life have you learned through your sport?

A: Give 100 per cent. Be determined. Never give up. Always respect others. Be confident and you will go far.

Q25: Who would you say are the top 10 sporting personalities in the world, ever?

1: Lauren Williams

2: Bianca Walkden

3: Jade Jones

4: Virgil Van Dijk

5: Mo Salah

6: Muhammad Ali

7: Billy Hunt (my great grandad, who was a champion boxer)

8: Jordan Henderson

9: Trent Alexander-Arnold

10: Bruce Lee

Q26: Have you met any famous sports people? Tell us all about it.

A: I have trained with World Taekwondo Champion Lauren Williams and I have met two-times Olympic Champion Jade Jones.

Three-times World Champion Bianca Walkden gave me a signed t-shirt when I won gold at the British Nationals.

Q27: Tell us about any other family members who are involved in sport?

A: My older sister Isabella is captain of Farsley Celtic’s Under-15s.

Q28: What would you say to somebody to recommend them to your sport and your club?

A: My club, Horizon, welcomes everyone from all backgrounds and is so equally supportive of everyone as long as you do your best.

Q29: What have been the benefits to you by doing your sport?

A: I am more confident in myself. Achieving all my different belts by learning the different movements and patterns has helped me become more focused at school and I have found it much easier to learn and concentrate.

Q30: What’s the worst injury you’ve had and what was the rehab like?

A: I sprained my ankle at inter-club training which took me off my feet for two days. I went to a podiatrist, got a wobble cushion as part of my rehab and use it everyday now to strengthen my ankle muscles (I do this while brushing my teeth morning and night).

Q31: What advice would you offer to a youngster starting out in your sport?

A: The harder you work, the more you get out of it.

Q32: Anything else you would like to say about yourself or your sport?

A: I like it when people ask what belt I am and I say ‘Black Belt Dan’ and they reply ‘Wow, I won’t mess with you then’. It always makes me giggle. Also I would like taekwondo to be an even more recognised sport and not just for the people who do it.