A SEVEN-time national taekwondo champion has won her first international gold medal.

Simoné Abley, 22, is from Spennymoor and competed in the European University Games Championships in Lodz, Poland on July 30.

She competed in the under 67kg weight class, and said: "It was a smooth competition and it went really well."

Hexham Courant: Simone with the gold medalSimone with the gold medal

"I feel quite happy about it because I've worked a long time to get a senior international medal and it feels quite good to get gold as well."

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Simoné's next plans are to compete at the British Taekwondo National Championships in September, and she has a MMA fight booked for October.

Studying Business Management at Northumbria University, she is completing sport qualifications alongside sports coaching at Full of Beans Children's Fitness and Sports Coaching North East, run by franchisee John Paul Reay.

Hexham Courant: Simone and John PaulSimone and John Paul

She first started taekwondo at age four since both of her brothers were taking lessons, and won her first competition at eight-years-old in 2008.

Simoné is coaching at the Full of Beans August holiday camp, which introduces children to various new sports.

"The children are definitely enthusiastic, it's nice to see people enjoy what I do for a living. 

"I have my own club where I coach but I wanted to branch out and it helps me to get more opportunities and more experience."

Simoné said even though the sport is getting more female representation, there is a lack of female coaches, which she wants to help address from her platform.

Hexham Courant: Simone with children taking part in the Full of Beans holiday clubSimone with children taking part in the Full of Beans holiday club

She wants to eventually extend her taekwondo club and offer MMA training in future.

John Paul said: "The children were very impressed and very inspired, with the recent win for the football team it's nice to see it's not just about the men. They got to try the medal on and they were very excited by the whole thing, the kids' faces just lit up.

"We want to make sure every kid gets to try every sport we're offering, it's very important to get them involved and get outside."

Hexham Courant: Simone practising taekwondo with a child taking part in the holiday campSimone practising taekwondo with a child taking part in the holiday camp

"Having specialised coaches such as myself with archery and Simoné with taekwondo, it helps kids to realise what they could achieve," John Paul said. 

Simoné added: "I'd definitely recommend getting into any martial arts, it's definitely became a lot more popular with females.

"There's two sides to it, there's the Olympic competition side and the self-defense side, so it's got something for everyone."