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Family reunion for taekwondo stars

5 February 2013

Australia’s London 2012 taekwondo team of Carmen Marton and Safwan Khalil have returned to elite competition in resounding fashion, with the husband-and-wife-to-be both qualifying for the Taekwondo World Championships.

With the duo being by each other’s side as support in London, with Safwan’s brother Ali as their coach, the World Championships will be an even greater family affair with Marton’s sister Caroline and brother Jack also making the Australian team that will compete in Mexico in July.

The Marton’s will make history as they become the first trio of siblings to line up for an Australian taekwondo team at a World Championships.

“I was nervous,” said Carmen Marton of her return to competition after finishing an agonising fourth at her second Games appearance in London.

“Of course I felt the pressure to perform and qualify and you can never predict your own performance. Mainly though, I felt sick watching my siblings fight to secure their places.”

At age 28 Caroline Marton is no stranger to the professional circuit herself and has results to match her Olympic sister.

“It's an absolutely amazing feeling and has been such a crazy ride,” she said.

“Five years ago I was ready to retire, 3 years ago I missed out on the World Championships as I was recovering from a knee operation, last year I was preparing my sister in London and today I realised I'll be competing on the world stage with both of my siblings. It's something that I never imagined could have been possible.”

Younger brother Jack, 20, has watched his sisters compete at the world championships and is ecstatic that he now has the opportunity to compete alongside them on the world stage.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling,” he said.

“I've been told countless stories about the world championships from both of my sisters and ever since then it has been a goal of mine to make the team one day.

We had always talked about going away on a world championships team together as a family and to have now achieved that is a dream come true. I can't wait to get my first official Australian team tracksuit.”

All three siblings have been competing internationally since they were teenagers and know what it takes to win at the world championships. So far no Australian has claimed the gold medal prize at this benchmark event.

Having come so close to a medal in London, Marton knows she has what it takes to get onto the podium in Mexico.

“I am ready emotionally and I am aiming high,” she said.

“It is a dream come true to share this experience with my siblings. Not only is it a career highlight, but a life highlight. I wanted to cry when we all qualified. To be on the same Australian team, I am just so proud. We never gave up after all these years. We did it!”

All three siblings, along with Khalil, have their sights set on Rio in 2016 with Carmen aiming to re-write history and become Australia’s first three-time Olympian in the sport.

Paula Gleeson

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