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Christchurch researcher representing New Zealand in taekwondo

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

vanessa latimore kicking image
Dr Vanessa Lattimore.

Christchurch breast cancer researcher Dr Vanessa Lattimore will represent New Zealand at the taekwondo World Championships in Manchester this May.

Dr Lattimore gained her PhD at the University of Otago, Christchurch and last year become a research fellow with the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group. The focus of her research is defining the risk of disease from variations in genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer.

She says she is greatly honoured to represent our ‘small but proud country’ at the taekwondo World Championships and show passion for the sport by competing on the international stage.

In preparation for the World Championships, Dr Lattimore is training for up to three hours a day. This involves honing her taekwondo martial arts skills, but also fitness training such as cycling, stair training and karate. In the lead-up to the World Championships she will compete in the 2019 US Open Taekwondo Championships, in Las Vegas in this month, then the Puerto Rico Open in April.

Dr Lattimore has been practising martial art taekwondo since she was 11 years old. Her two siblings were doing the sport, and Dr Lattimore says her mother "pressured" her to join them at the Methven club. She is now the only one in her family still involved in the sport.

"I was hooked by the high energy of training and the challenge of stepping into the ring ... It is awesome to be able to train with people who are as passionate about the sport as I am."

When she moved to Christchurch in 2012, Dr Lattimore joined a new club, which had ‘high-energy’ tournament classes. This increased her enthusiasm for the sport and she began entering local, then national tournaments.

“I was hooked by the high energy of training and the challenge of stepping into the ring. The club members have become like a second family to me. It is awesome to be able to train with people who are as passionate about the sport as I am. I love being able to pass on my knowledge to the other students and see them develop and grow, both with regard to their taekwondo skills and as people, over the time they have trained at our club.”

Dr Lattimore earned her place in the New Zealand World Championship team by winning every tournament she entered in 2018, including the national selection tournament, held last December in Auckland.

She is paying for all expenses associated with her overseas competitions so has started a Give a Little Page to share her story and fundraise.