A Gainsborough teenager is celebrating a call up to the England judo squad, after a phenomenal year on the mat.
Kieron Smythe had an outstanding 2014, during which he competed at the highest level for his age group and earned his black belt.
Rising to the coveted status in martial arts was no easy feat, as the 16-year-old explained: “To get my black belt I had to win two out of three fights, then win another three out of three.”
“And in one fight I had to take on someone who weighed 120kg.”
Having already taken silver in the Heart of England event, and bronze in the British Schools, Smythe followed those achievements with a bronze medal in the Welsh International Competition, an event that boasts important ranking points.
And December brought double joy for the Grimsby Judo Club fighter.
First he fought in the British Judo Championships, taking home a bronze from a competition entered by 31 people.
His performance, and place in the rankings, caught the eye of the selectors who crowned his 2014 with a call up to the England squad.
The youngster took up the physically demanding sport at the tender age of four, training in Gainsborough and then Lincoln, before he joined Grimsby Judo Club two years ago.
He believes the quality of his clubmates helps him progress in the martial art.
“It’s the best club around and has other members on the England and British squads, and people who have fought in the Europeans too.”
Smythe, a John Leggott College student, will begin training with the England squad on Sunday at their base in Walsall.
He hopes he will get the chance to represent his country in international competition in 2015.
The teenager told the Standard: “Hopefully I can carry on winning medals this year and stay in the England squad.”
“I’m training in judo twice a week at the minute, and doing gym and fitness work as well.”