A judo-loving youngster is dreaming of representing his country in the Olympics after his latest success in the sport.
Leon Nicholson, aged 12, has only been participating in judo since last November.
However, he has taken to the sport superbly, and just two days after turning 12, he passed his kata exam, which required him to show off his technique. That made him one of the youngest in the country to do so.
Leon, from Seaburn, attends Kodokwai Judo Club, on Commercial Road, South Shields, with stepdad Phil Atkinson.
Mr Atkinson has told of his pride at watching Leon develop in the sport.
He said: “I took Leon in for a class last November and when he walked off the mat at the end, he said he would be back the next week because he loved it that much.
When you ask him what he wants, he says he’d like to represent Team GB in the OlympicsPhil Atkinson
“It’s fantastic that he has passed his kata, especially at his age. It’s just a fantastic achievement for him.
“It’s really good to see someone give 110% all the time like he does.
“He’s further ahead than some of the older ones, and when you ask him what he wants, he says he’d like to represent Team GB in the Olympics, and get his black belt when he’s 16.
“He’s a very competitive natured child and is always looking for the next goal.”
Leon regularly trains with and competes against people older than him.
In two recent competitions, he won a silver medal, despite being up against boys mostly aged 14 and 15.
He trains two or three times a week at Kodokwai, while he attends Whitburn School.
Mr Atkinson, who lives with Leon’s mum Jacqueline, added: “His mam and I are so proud.
“He gets lots out of it because of what he puts in.
“Even when the chips are down, he always has his chin up.
“He’s always talking about judo – he has got judo on the brain.
“The coaches are excellent with him and are helping him to improve all the time, but the main thing is that he just loves doing what he does.
“He really likes it when he beats some of the older ones, but he’s used to it because he has been training with the seniors since he was 11, which is a good achievement in itself.”