KARATE champ Bailey Baker has kicked his way to a place on the England squad.
Bailey, 15, from Sunderland, bagged his place after a string of recent competition successes and impressing England selectors at national trials.
The Red House Academy pupil earned his place in the kumite, a fighting discipline of the sport, in the cadet, age 14 to 15, under 57kg section.
Bailey, of Helmsley Court, Witherwack, trains at the East Durham Ishinryu Karate Club, which is based at East Durham College in Peterlee.
The dedicated youngster trains twice a day, up to four hours a day, five times a week and can be seen pounding the roads early in the morning to get his training in before he heads off to the Rutherglen Road school.
Weekends are reserved for competitions and squad training, both regional and national, which is held at venues across the country.
Bailey’s next goal is to be selected for the upcoming junior world championships in November in Spain.
The teenager said: “I was thrilled to get a place on the squad, I’ve been working really hard.
“I’m getting the right coaching and doing the right training – so hopefully, I can continue to develop.”
Bailey’s mum, Lisa, said she is really delighted that all her son’s hard work is paying off for him, and all his family and friends are very proud of his achievement.
Karate is one of the sports bidding to become an Olympic event and a decision is expected in September for its inclusion in the 2020 games.
And Bailey, who is a 2nd Dan black belt, has his sights set high.
Bailey added: “Obviously, it would be a dream to go to the Olympics, but I know I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me before that.”
His instructor and England Northern Region coach, Gavin Foster, a 4th Dan, said the youngster has worked incredibly hard over the years to achieve his success and thoroughly deserves this place in the England squad.
He said: “This is a great achievement for Bailey and for the club, but it’s only the first step on a steep ladder.
“If he keeps on working hard, he can achieve his dreams.”