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WILMINGTON — Giovanni Linnehan, 8, from Whitingham, traveled last week to Greensboro, N.C., to compete in the Junior Olympics’s Tae Kwon Do competition. Linnehan, the only person from Vermont at the competition, took gold in three different categories.

Linnehan is a level 5 in Tae Kwon Do and working towards his black belt. He has been practicing since he was 3, hoping someday to make it to the national team.

Linnehan said Tae Kwon Do has helped him get in the right mindset when it comes to being bullied. His father, Michael Linnehan, owner of Vermont Valley Tae Kwon Do in the Old School Community Center, says he helps steer children away from violence.

“We teach how to use your mind instead of fists,” said Michael. “The one thing we teach here at Vermont Valley Tae Kwon Do, we have the kids look in the mirror and hold their fist up to their head. And we say, ‘Which one’s bigger?’ They say their head, and I say, ‘Good, now we’re going to use your brains instead of your fist.’”

To qualify for the games, Linnehan won a silver medal in Olympic sparring, a bronze in ITF forms, a silver in point sparring, and a bronze in continuous board breaking during the Adirondack AAU Taekwondo Championship in Hudson Valley, N.Y., back in May.

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Linnehan said he was a little scared at first leading up to the games but his father prepared him through the trainings.

“We teach the kids in Tae Kwon Do that fear is not a bad thing,” Michael said. “Fear is your body getting ready to react to a situation. Your hearing is increased, your breathing is increased. Rich blood cells go to your muscles, you know, and it’s okay to be afraid.”

Once Giovanni was done there, he was in it for the gold in Greensboro, which he took in breaking, fighting with padded swords, and forms.

Linnehan said the one thing he enjoys most about Tae Kwon Do is sparring, which has been a nice way for him to get into other sports as well.

Linnehan hopes to join the police force when he gets older.


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