A TWO-TIME Olympic medallist and a national hero in his native Taiwan recently moved into the area.
Renowned for his flair and speed in the combat sport of taekwondo, Chu Mu Yen is the first Taiwanese man ever to win Olympic gold - a feat he achieved in the Athens games of 2004, achieving instant celebrity across the martial arts world and especially in his homeland.
Sportswear giant Adidas sponsored him for the 2008 Games in Beijing, and he appeared on posters bearing the slogan “no one gets up when a whole country kicks”.
Recently, having retired from top-level competition, Mu Yen was keen to move to Scotland to pursue his academic career and learn English. BBC taekwondo correspondent John Cullen got wind of this and spoke with some pals in the sport.
As a result, local coach Andy Brown offered to take Mu Yen in and he is living at his home in Smithstone, where he is spending several months studying while also helping out at classes in Broadwood Stadium.
“It is very good here,” said Mu Yen. “People do not train in taekwondo every day as they do in Taiwan, and the Scottish people’s mind is very different. But I think they get more fun out of their training sessions because they do not do it as often.”
Andy Brown added: “We’re very fortunate to have Mu Yen here.
“He was always renowned for a certain flair he brought to the sport which made him exciting to watch, and even now he still displays those flashes of brilliance. I think the Scottish players are picking up on that and he is helping them improve. The children love him, he’s excellent with young beginners.”
Once Mu Yen has completed his studies and returned home to Taiwan, he will start training a new generation of Olympic hopefuls at Taiwan Sport University.
While Mu Yen is not officially instructing any classes, he is helping out at Master Brown’s classes in Broadwood. These are held on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, plus Saturday mornings.
Also, local elite players James Tully and Craig and Ross Eden will compete at the Scottish Open in Ravenscraig on November 27.