GB Academy place is ‘insane’ opportunity for Haines

Ben Haines
Ben Haines
Dave Waterman, right, and his brother Lee following a Great South Run effort in Oakley's name. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143044-319)

The Pompey boy facing up to the ultimate charity challenge

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Ben Haines saw his Rio Olympic dream move a giant step closer as he was selected to join the GB Taekwondo Academy full-time.

The 19-year-old, from Horndean, will be permanently based at Sportcity, in Manchester, from next month.

It’s a dream come true for the reigning national -74kg champion.

He has taken another huge stride along the path to achieving his ambition of competing for Great Britain at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

Haines said: ‘When I got the news I was speechless.

‘I am so happy to get this chance. It opens up so many opportunities for me.

‘The coaching level and training level is so good. It’s going to be insane!’

The 15 athletes selected through the first talent identification programme since London 2012 – Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil – were named on the GB Taekwondo website last week.

But Haines had already had his selection confirmed by GB performance director Gary Hall.

However, he had to keep the news to himself – even his parents were not in the loop at first.

He said: ‘I was given the news by Gary Hall but I had to keep quiet until the official announcement was made.

‘I couldn’t even tell my mum as she is a bit of a facebook fanatic.

‘When I did tell my parents they were so happy.

‘They know how much I have put in for this.

‘It was hard to keep it quiet, though.

‘I was so happy. I was training down here with a big smile.’

Haines started out in taekwondo at the age of 10 and joined Cowplain Taekwondo Academy ITAE.

He later switched associations to the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).

In recent months he has regularly travelled to Manchester to train at the facility with the GB squad.

It’s a surrounding Haines feels at home in.

His coach Gareth Brown has already made a permanent move to Manchester.

Now the South Downs College student has been earmarked by GB as one of the top athletes in his sport – coming through the GB Talent Development pathway.

He will be joined by Georgia Barnes, who is from the same club – British Taekwondo South.

‘Now I can represent Great Britain on a regular basis,’ said Haines.

‘I won’t be as nervous when I compete for them.

‘I felt there was a lot of pressure on me to perform when I went out there trying to earn a place in the academy.

‘But the hard work starts now really.

‘It’s a massive opportunity for me to show them they made the right choice.

‘My dreams are starting to come into view.

‘Rio is a step closer but there is a serious amount of hard work ahead.

‘I have to keep going, keep training as hard as I do and keep winning fights.’