Lina Sbihi shows off the gold medal she won in a taekwondo national competition. (Family photo)

Bristow’s Lina Sbihi, 12, won a gold medal at the national championships for taekwondo in Chicago this month.

She sparred, or kicked, and defended herself against other girls ages 12 to 14 who had also earned their red belts and who weighed about 73 pounds. Six other kids younger than 14 from Lina’s sparring team, U.S. Tigers in Haymarket, also took gold.

Lina qualified for the national event by taking second place in a competition in New York state.

“Sometimes it makes me nervous, but when I start sparring, in my mind I know I have to win,” she said.

Lina, who will be a seventh- grader at Gainesville Middle School, has been doing taekwondo for only a year. She loved it immediately, she said. “I really wanted to compete in different competitions.”

Lina hopes her biggest championship is yet to come.

“I want to try to make it to the nationals team and make it to the Olympics,” she said.

— Moira E. McLaughlin