Durham student needs funding after Muay Thai Team GB selection

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Aidan K Forster, a 20-year-old Durham University student, has been selected to represent Team GB at the IFMA Muay Thai European Championships (13th-20th February) in Istanbul.

The St Aidan’s College second year, from nearby Ferryhill in County Durham, has started a GoFundMe page, as his trip will be self-funded. Altogether, he expects competing in Istanbul to cost around £2500, and is aiming to raise £1000 through GoFundMe.

This is Forster’s third time representing Team GB, having been selected for the 2019 Youth World Championships in Antalya, Turkey, as well as fighting at the Baltic Muaythai Open in Lithuania in February 2020. He fought his way to a bronze at the Baltic Open, his first major adult competition.

Forster studies Sport and Exercise Science, and made the tough decision to study from home in order to focus on his training. He trains six times a week for an hour-and-a-half, but explains that it’s the work he has to put in around this that’s the most important:

“I’ve just been for a run now, I only got in half an hour ago. It’s not just the work you put in the gym, it’s the work you’ve got to put in outside the gym as well. I’ve got to be very strict with because I’ve got to maintain a certain weight. That’s what the sport teaches everyone – discipline and respect. You’ve got to respect what you do to be good at it.”

That’s what the sport teaches everyone – discipline and respect

Forster first started Muay Thai aged five, and has trained at Phoenix Thai Boxing, under Gary McAllister ever since. McAllister’s own son, Reece, was a four-time world champion. Forster said McAllister is “like a second dad to me. What he’s taught me in life is second to none really, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”

But his path to the European Championships has not been plain sailing. He was hit by a car in a running accident aged 15, and Covid-19 put his fledgling adult career in the sport on hold for 18 months.

He was also selected for the IFMA World Championships in Thailand last December, but was told too late to raise the necessary funds to compete. This clearly still plays on his mind:

“It was a bit of a kick in the balls really. I was ready to get back onto the fighting scene after Covid-19. I’d just been making my way through the adult rankings. Now I’ve been given the opportunity to fly out again- it’s not as big as the Worlds, but IFMA itself has been recognised by the IOC (International Olympic Committee). No matter what competition you’re fighting in, IFMA is the god of Muay Thai, so this is probably the biggest stage as a senior that I’ve fought on.”

Forster has high hopes for the upcoming competition, saying “Expectations are gonna be high. Ever since I got selected for Team GB, I always know it’s going to be hard, so my training goes up a level every time. Getting selected to fight in these tournaments is a huge achievement alone, because there’s only a handful of seniors and juniors in the whole country that get selected.”

“This is the team to be on to be selected for the Olympics, whenever it gets put in, because it’s already been recognised by the IOC. A bronze medal would be amazing, silver, even better, and a gold is a gold at the end of the day. If I win a silver or a gold, I go to fight in the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.”

Forster is already well on his way to reaching his funding target, but every penny counts in getting him to Istanbul. He explains, “the support I’ve had during this one has been unbelievable. The university itself, they’ve been great. Anything’s a massive help to me – it could be a penny, it could be £100.”

To donate to his GoFundMe, follow this link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-aidan-get-to-the-ifma-european-championship?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unknown&utm_campaign=comms_f7h4+help-aidan-get-to-the-ifma-european-championship

Image: Aidan K Forster

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