KIRSTY Miller is on a mission, writes MARK EDWARDS.

It may be the best part of two years away, but the 2019 World Taekwon-Do Championships are very much at the forefront of her mind – and she will not just be going there looking to pick up any medal. She wants gold.

The 27-year-old has enjoyed a stellar eight months in which she has starred in both the European Championships and World Championships.

But while she takes great pride in the two silver and four bronze medals adorning her Didcot home, she will be raising the bar.

“There are other events before that, but for me it is all about those World Championships,” she said.

“I am going there for gold – make no mistake about it.

“I was so close to an individual gold this year, but I know exactly what I need to do to make sure I get it next time. Everything is geared around achieving that.”

The primary school teacher delivers a measured but fierce message, displaying the same control in speech as she needs to in her chosen field.

Miller competes in International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), a branch of the sport that hinges on technique rather than brute force.

“We are a semi-contact sport, but are still allowed to punch to the face,” she explained.

“It is not a knockout sport, but very technical. To win you need to score more points than your rival. Strength is important, but it’s not that which wins you fights.”

Miller first tried the sport as a nine-year-old, following in the footsteps of her dad,


When her father started a children’s class, Kirsty and her sister, Faye, went along. Gary is still her instructor to this day.

“I train three or four times a week, but am always going to the gym and keeping fit on top of that – it’s vital,” she said.

“I am very lucky that the Park Club Gym on Milton Park have given me free membership for a year which really helps – it can get very expensive.

“I am focused and determined to keep improving and anything that helps me to do that is a massive help, I know that.”

Miller captained the England side at the European Championships in April, helping secure three team bronze medals and an individual silver.

The fortnightly sessions she attends with the national team can easily make life difficult to find time to travel across the country – but not for the Willowcroft Community School teacher.

“I am so lucky because we usually train every fortnight, and it’s usually in Didcot,” she said.

“I promise you it has nothing to do with me, but the Oxford area is the most central for those in the England squad, and the hall at Didcot Girls School is perfect. It certainly works well for me!”.

Part of an epic 2017 saw Miller selected for the World Championships in North Korea.

She returned with silver and bronze medals, and that has whetted the appetite for more.

“The final of the sparring was just unbelievable,” she said.

“It was on a raised stage, against a rival from North Korea in front of lots of people and just an incredible experience.”

Miller added: “I was nervous about going out there with all the issues surrounding the country, but it was a fantastic experience.

“Everyone was so supportive – especially my school who have been great with me having to take time off to compete in these big events.”

And a nomination in the sportswoman of the year category at the Oxfordshire Sports Awards capped a sensational last 12 months.

“I couldn’t believe it when I found out,” she admitted. “I was just stunned.”

“It really is the cherry on the cake – I am so honoured to be in the final three, it’s a real thrill.”