WHEN it comes to excelling in sports, 12-year-old Nichelle Tan is proving that age matters little.
The Mayflower Secondary School student had the entire Toa Payoh Sports Hall buzzing with excitement over her technical strength and ferocity at the Schools National Taekwondo Championships yesterday.
And she proved dominant in her C Division girls' Kyorugi Poom Belt Under-46kg category despite being one of the youngest competitors.
First, she beat National Junior College's Lim Kai June 12-3 in the semi-finals. Then, despite an ankle sprain, she was unstoppable in her final against Wong Shao Yi from Raffles Girls' School, winning by point gap with the score at 13-1 in the third round.
The gold was her second medal of this year's competition, after clinching the bronze for the C Division girls' Poomsae Poom Belt.
Said the national taekwondo cadet athlete: "I was nervous at first because the rules differ between international and local competitions, and I would be disqualified for any head kicks against my opponents.
"But my mind was fixed solely on winning when the sparring started and I am glad to win."
Nichelle, who picked up taekwondo at the age of four, admits that she has a very competitive streak.
She recalled: "I lost to (an) opponent who was taller and older by a year, but I wanted a rematch and refused to leave the mat, so my mom had to carry me off."
Nichelle hopes to emulate her father Peck Kim, who won gold while representing Singapore in dragonboat racing at the 1993 SEA Games, by winning gold if chosen for international competitions in the future.
Said her coach Brian Peh: "Nichelle is definitely one for the future and she has the fighting spirit to continue improving."