The Chronicle -

By Erin Tierney
The Creswell Chronicle 

Leaghanna Sharp: Creswell's 12-year-old Taekwondo virtuoso

 

January 31, 2019

Erin Tierney / The Creswell Chronicle

Leaghanna Sharp, 12, of Creswell, has been front-kicking since she was a toddler.

Her name is Leaghanna Sharp, and boy does she know how to pack a punch... and a kick.

When she was seven years old, Leaghanna first earned her Black Belt. Now at age 12, she's got loads of awards under her hard-earned belt in Taekwondo, an ancient Korean art form of self-defense.

She's kind of a big deal.

Leaghanna, a seventh grader at Creswell Middle School, has earned over 25 state championships, is a three-time national winner, and a is one-time world champ.

She does it all, competing in form, combat fighting, weapon fighting and sparring. Her movements are fluent, her posture is poised and her presence radiates intensity on the mat.

Taekwondo is also about building character. Leaghanna said Taekwondo teaches her respect and discipline, as well as self-confidence - and it shows.

Sharp currently holds eighth in the world for sparring and sixth place for combat fighting, in the second and third degree Black Belt category for 11-to-12-year-old girls.

In 2015, she competed against 16 girls all over the world and was awarded the World Champion in Combat Stick Fighting for girls her age group, which was eight years old and under.

"The best-of-the-best came out from all over the world and (Leaghanna) came out on top," said Scott Sharp, Leaghanna's dad.

Not only is it cool be a world champ, but Leaghanna was also stoked because she cut a deal with her parents if she took home the trophy: colored hair.

"My parents said, 'if you get World, you get colored hair.' And I won! So I got teal hair," she said with a smile.

Leaghanna is also keenly aware of herself and the world she is growing up in. "Our world is not doing so well, so (these skills) will help me defend myself," she said.

She is breaking barriers, perfecting her motor skills and is even a young role model to those in younger age brackets in the sport. Leaghanna's heart swells when she sees, "all the little kids come up and ask me for their autographs and keychains at tournaments," she said. "That's fun because you have people looking up to you."

She also enjoys going to tournaments because she gets to meet people from all over the world. Leaghanna has friends in Argentina, Brazil, Canada and all throughout the United States.

The family has racked up thousands of miles in pursuit of Leaghanna's passion over the years, competing in tournaments all over the states. "She's been hard at it for six years straight," Sharp said. "There is no off-season and we never take a break."

Image provided

Leaghanna Sharp as a toddler.

On average, she trains six hours a week at Duers ATA Martial Arts in Eugene, and also participates in school sports, including softball.

Looking to the future, Leaghanna plans to test for Fourth Degree Black Belt when she turns 18. In the meantime, she continues to train and will be competing in the World Championships again this spring, in hopes of taking home some more world titles.

She doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon.

"I believe I'm going to continue this," Leaghanna said. "I've been doing this (Taekwondo) for over 10 years; it is part of me and my life; always will be."

Check out Leaghanna's sweet moves online at:

Facebook: Leaghanna Sharp

Instagram: leaghannas17

YouTube: Scott Sharp

 
 

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