Taekwondo leads local twins to South Korea

Ryan Cooke
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TRURO - While siblings fighting may not be anything new, the Mollins family takes it to a higher level.

Cassie Mollins, left, and her twin sister Ayla get their feet going during a Kickathon fundraiser at l'École acadienne on Saturday afternoon as Master Woo Yong Jung looks on. Jung, the girls and their father will be part of a team heading to South Korea for a taekwondo expo next month.

With blonde hair and blue eyes, Ayla and Cassie Mollins look anything but threatening - until they don their robes and black belts.

The 15-year-old twin sisters were on the mats Saturday afternoon in Truro, one of many training sessions this week.

At the end of the month, the girls will be heading to Korea to take part in a two-week taekwondo rendezvous to showcase their talent against the rest of the world.

"I'm pretty nervous but pretty excited at the same time," Cassie said. "It's going to be so crazy."

Black belts from an early age, the girls picked up the sport from their father, Paul, who runs a school in Truro. A fierce competitor who represented Canada nationally on several occasions, Paul came back to his home province of Nova Scotia after running a large school in Alberta.

"I was used to having 20 or 30 black belts in my school," he said.

"Now I only had my two daughters - and you try teaching your own children," he laughed. "I needed somebody to back me up."

That's where Master Woo Yong Jung came into the picture.

Mollins and Jung had met several times before at competitions all over the world, going back to the late 1980s. Jung eventually moved to Canada, competing for the national team and winning Olympic bronze in 1992. After retiring from competition, Jung remained in the country and coached the national team until 2010.

At Mollins first tournament since moving back to Nova Scotia, he was surprised to see Jung coaching a Halifax team.

"I was like 'oh my God!' We'd met so many years before and here he was again. We made plans to reconnect, and now here we are."

Ayla and Cassie now make the trip to Halifax twice a week to train while training nearly every other day at home. Dedicating so many hours to something is a tough commitment for most people, but not the Mollins sisters.

"We've been doing taekwondo since we were six," Cassie said. "It's not a seasonal sport, it's a lifestyle."

A pair of events highlights the trip. First, the Taekwondo World Cultural Expo in Muju County is a global event attracting more than 2,000 athletes to show off their skills. The second major event is a top-level tournament pitting the Mollins' up against the best competitors of their age group in Korea. They'll be in tough competition against their Korean counterparts, their father said.

"In Korea, it's a big part of their lifestyle. They'll train six days a week, four hours a day. It's a part of their schooling."

The girls aren't worried, however. With an understanding of the sport, they know what it takes to win.

The fighting, training, hard work and dedication is all second nature, Cassie said.

"There's just something normal about it for us."

Geographic location: Korea, Truro, Canada South Korea Nova Scotia Halifax Alberta Muju

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