A kickboxer from Stonehaven is going for gold in front of a home crowd next week, as Scotland’s biggest kickboxing competition returns to Aberdeen.
World-class Shaunileigh Malone, 18, is one of hundreds of competitors taking part in the Aberdeen Open at the AECC next Sunday.
Shaunileigh, who began kickboxing aged nine and achieved her black belt at 14 years old, has won a number of major titles including a gold medal at the World Kickboxing Championships in Florida in 2015.
The former Mackie Academy pupil is studying events management at Robert Gordon’s University and trains at the Lion’s Den martial arts centre in Stonehaven.
She said: “People are always surprised when they find out I’m a world champion in the sport because I don’t look like your typical kickboxer.
“I think there’s a bit of a misconception surrounding kickboxing – it’s not all about beating people up and it’s not just for men.
“There are real benefits to kickboxing. As well as being good for your physical health, it’s great for building confidence and for meeting new people.
“I have friends from all over now because of kickboxing – it’s like a big family.”
Shaunileigh will be competing in the light contact and points categories at the event.
She added: “I’m really excited to be taking part in the Aberdeen Open once again.
“I’ve been so lucky to travel to different international competitions. But I can honestly say the Aberdeen Open is as good as other worldwide events.
“It’s the best event in Scotland, if not the United Kingdom, and in terms of atmosphere, it’s on the same level as the World Kickboxing Championships.
“I’m looking forward to stepping on the mat in front of my family and friends and taking it all in.”
Now in its fourth year, organisers hope the event will position Aberdeen as one of the world’s top destinations for martial arts and increase public participation in the sport.
Organised by Stonehaven-based charity World Karate and Kickboxing Commission (WKC) Scotland, the event already attracts international competitors and offers spectators the chance to see hundreds of rounds taking place throughout the day.
President of WKC Scotland Malcolm Evans said: “As well as having brilliant local athletes like Shaunileigh, the event will showcase international and national kickboxing talent.
“We’ve also got participants who are fairly new to the sport and are looking for a challenge.”
Martial arts fans will have the chance to hear from karate legend Jadi Tention before the event. The six-time Sport Karate World Champion will travel from the USA to lead a seminar at the Beach Leisure Centre on Saturday May 4. The Aberdeen Open will take place at the AECC the following day, from 9am-6pm.
Spectator tickets are £8 and can be ordered online at www.kihapp.com/tournaments/3949-wkc-aberdeen-open-2019 or at the door on the day. For more information, visit www.wkcworld.com/wkc-scotland