A Swansea University student and world kickboxing champion is finishing 2020 on a high after graduating in her master’s.
Tennessee Randall, 22, secured a distinction in clinical and mental health psychology to add to the World Association of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO) world title she secured in December 2019.
The Llanelli-born star has had to juggle studies and competition for as long as she can remember, graduating with first-class honours in psychology at undergraduate level only last year.
And Tennessee admits that while it was a difficult task, it was well worth it in the end.
“It has been very challenging,” she said. “I have lost count of the number of times I have had to take my work away to tournaments because of upcoming exams or looming coursework dates.
“However, I always try to keep a good balance between training and studying. It is difficult but if you put enough effort in you can get the best of both worlds between studying and competing.
“I would like to say a massive thank you to my research supervisor, Laura Wilkinson, for all the help and support she has provided me. I have been very lucky to work under Laura’s supervision and I hope I will get to work with her again in the future.”
Tennessee started kickboxing at the age of seven, with her crowning moment coming 12 months ago with a world title. This came after she was named the best female ring fighter following a European title won in Slovenia.
“It was such an amazing and overwhelming feeling,” said Tennessee. “Although I had won the world title as a junior, winning it at senior level was my ultimate goal.
“It took three years of hard work and sacrifice, but it was totally worth it. Having my family there with me in Turkey was also very special. They have always been my biggest supporters from the beginning, so for my grandparents and parents to witness my biggest achievement in person was wonderful.”
Unfortunately, Tennessee will have to wait to defend her crown as this year’s world championships were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but she has already set her sights on getting back in the ring in 2021.
“I was supposed to attend the EUSA (European University Sports Association) Games in Serbia,” she said. “Last year I achieved a gold and silver medal and was Great Britain’s only fighter to bring back a gold, so it was disappointing to not compete there again.
“I should also have been defending my European title at the WAKO senior championships in Turkey. Medalling there would have also meant qualification for the World Combat Games which should have been held in in 2021.
“It’s been extremely frustrating as I love competing at the highest level in my sport but it will give me more time to prepare and ensure I will be at my peak attending the championships next year.”
While kickboxing is not currently an Olympic sport, WAKO have been recognised by the international Olympic committee which is a sign of progress, especially for Tennessee.
But as well as her hopes and dreams in her own career, the youngster is also looking to unearth the next local star.
“My dad and I have recently opened a new kickboxing club in Llanelli,” she says. “We taught kickboxing from a community hall for four years, but we have finally managed to find a suitable venue for us to open full-time. I’m very passionate about teaching and I want to pass on my knowledge to the next generation of champions.
“But if kickboxing ever did get into the Olympics during my career span then that would be my dream!”