ANGUSalive Sports Personality of the Year winner Catriona Steele is hoping to use her new moniker to help get the county’s kids into sport.
The Taekwondo World Cup winner, from Edzell, was stunned to receive the award ahead of Jonny O’Mara and Andrew Woodroffe but Catriona is determined to do some good with the title.
And as well as helping youngsters get into sport, the 40-year-old mum-of-four hopes to let other adults know that you can always go back to your sport if you’re just willing to put in the effort.
She said: “I want to use my title as Sports Personality to go into schools and try and get people to stick at sport.
“I was completely overwhelmed, I didn’t expect to win it at all. I was very chuffed to be nominated in the first place. I didn’t expect my name to be said on the night.
“The two guys I was up against, I just expected one of them to win because they’re great athletes in their prime.
“You get to that teenage stage and you get self conscious, you don’t want to try anything new so I want to be out there as a role model to say - anybody can achieve things if they work hard and they’re dedicated. The rewards you get from sport far outweigh anything else.
“It’s also about adults who leave sport; I left taekwondo to have my children and came back to it.
“I never thought I’d be selected for Scotland having had four kids and at 39, but I want to tell people that you can achieve that kind of thing.”
Raising four kids is more than a full-time job but Catriona manages to coach, train and study taekwondo as well as offer fitness classes at the David McNairn Blackbelt Academy in Montrose, and compete in international competitions.
Taekwondo involves a lot of academic work as well as the incredible physical fitness, so Catriona - a first degree black belt - spends a lot of time studying for her martial art too.
She admitted she isn’t quite sure how she manages to keep spinning so many plates at once, though her supportive husband Andrew certainly helps - as do her children Arran, 16; Wade, 14; Taine, 12 and Hope, 10.
She said: “To be honest, I don’t know how I manage doing this and having four kids. It’s tough, but I’ve got a very supportive husband let’s put it that way!
“I actually instruct in the class in Montrose now, so I’m still a student, a competitor and an instructor.
“I’m in the Scottish team again this year so every Sunday, I have to go down to Livingston for three hours with the team.
“I don’t know many other mums that do it.
“I don’t get to do a lot of training in the club so I have to go and do my own training as extra.
“I’ve developed my own fitness kickboxing classes as well so I also instruct those during the week. I was going to the gym a lot but that gym unfortunately shut, so I’ve got a lot of things at home now.”
Taekwondo, and fitness in general, is a real passion of Catriona’s and she said she loves to spread that appreciation for exercise as much as possible – so much so that her husband and kids now all train at the Academy.
“There’s a bug there, you want to keep doing it and I love giving that bug to other people,” Catriona said.
“When someone starts taekwondo I get so excited that there’s a new person. In my fitness kickboxing classes I’ve had ladies come in who have said ‘oh I’ll never do a press-up’ and I’ve told them just to be patient.
“When they leave a class saying ‘I’ve done this’, it makes me so proud.”
It was love at first sight when Catriona first gave taekwondo a shot as a teenager but she said she was a bit apprehensive initially.
However, David McNairn, who she now assists at the Academy, was the one to encourage her to give it a try.
She said: “At the time I had friends who did it, I was 15 or 16 and the instructor always said to me to give it a try and he’s my instructor now.
“I was a self conscious teenager so I didn’t want to make a fool of myself but as soon as I tried it, I absolutely loved it.
“It was in my blood from then on. It’s been in my life for a long, long time.”
The sport of taekwondo is a little different to other martial arts, so we asked Catriona to explain it to us in her own words.
“It’s a Korean martial art,” she said. “I do ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) taekwondo, there’s a few different associations so it’s not the taekwondo in the Olympics – it’s a bit different.
“It’s hand and foot fighting so we’re known for our punching and kicking.
“It’s very time consuming, especially to get to your first black belt. It’s a long road and it’s a lot of commitment.
“It’s not just the physical side of it, we do a lot of studying because we have to learn every move in Korean terminology and for our first degree we need to write a thesis about our journey from our white belt to our black belt. It’s not just a sport.”
The ITF World Cup was held last year in Budapest and Catriona was able to bring back two gold medals from the event.
She won the sparring event in the advanced senior black belt female + 55 kgs division, beating stiff competition from over 58 countries entered in the event. The championships was the biggest event that the ITF have ever held, with a total of 1852 competitors.
Catriona also won the gold medal in the ladies Special Technique event, which is high kicking - competitors are asked to hit a target with a jumping front kick and a jumping side kick.
Next up is a trip to Bulgaria for the European Championships next month and Catriona is hoping to secure some sponsorship for the event.
She said: “I was selected for the Scottish team for the ITF European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria in April.
“We’re ramping up our training for that.
“I’m also looking for some sponsorship for the tournament so I’d love to hear from any local businesses who are interested.”