KARATE kid Bailey Baker missed out on a medal – but he did secured a top 16 place at the world junior championships in his first outing for England.
The 15-year-old put in a solid performance to make the third round of the championships in Spain and went down fighting.
He took his Croatian opponent to a 4-4 draw on the buzzer, having pulled it back with a head kick to get three points in the dying seconds of the bout.
After the draw, the decision went to the judges, and they again declared the bout a draw, with two flags each, but the referee, giving the deciding vote, picked the Croatian, putting Bailey out.
A win would have taken the Red House Academy pupil to the quarter-final of the category for cadets aged 14 or 15 and weighing under 70kg. But his opponent lost in the semi-final, putting Bailey, of Castle Mead, near Witherwack, out of the fight-off for bronze.
Bailey returned home with the England squad yesterday and now faces further selections in two weeks for February’s junior European championships, at which he will be challenging in the category for those aged 16 or 17. He also returned home to some good news that he had secured a kit sponsor in Total Sport, based at Silksworth Row in Sunderland.
Bailey, who trains at East Durham College in Peterlee, said: “I am disappointed not to have taken a medal, but I am pleased with my performance overall. I worked so hard in the lead-up and felt sure I could have gone on to make the medals, but the decision went the other way.
“I was gutted, but it is all a learning curve, and I have to use this experience to improve and come back stronger.”