Local woman medals at regionals
Kim West, Franklin County Times
Russellville native Christine Kelly isn't used to following a conventional path, so it's not surprising she chose to specialize in an unconventional sport.
Kelly, 22, is ranked No. 1 in her division in the International Taekwondo Association national points standings headed into the ITA's national tournament in October.
Last month Kelly, a third-degree black belt, competed in the Summer Regional Championship at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, and brought home two gold medals in the forms and traditional free design categories and a bronze in sparring.
"It's a lot of technique … in forms, if you stop, that's considered really bad," Kelly said. "The moves have to be very crisp and controlled, but powerful and fast."
In October, Kelly will compete in the Fall National, which is the last national competition of the year.
Kelly attended elementary school in Russellville but spent her high school years at St. Bernard's boarding school in Cullman.
She is now a senior biology major at UNA, where she played soccer for the Lions two years and also spent one semester managing a team at a North Caroline college before deciding to concentrate on taekwondo.
She had earned her black belt by age 12, but stopped training when she went to St. Bernard's.
"I did the whole boarding school thing, and I had no place to train there," said Kelly, who teaches at the Trent Graham Taekwondo Academy in Florence. "Then I did soccer, and it was taking up a lot of time. I kept driving by this billboard for taekwondo, and I decided to try it again.
"I love soccer, but I could only see my soccer career lasting two more years, and I can do taekwondo for the rest of my life. It was a hard decision, but I don't regret it."