A six-year-old schoolboy could be the area’s youngest-ever national champion after a gold-medal winning performance at the weekend, writes Tina Murray.
Joel Blowes, a pupil at Moulton Primary School, took the title in the infant section of the Ishin Rhu Ju-Jitsu British Championships which were held at Newmarket Leisure Centre on Sunday.
His friend Jude Allan, also six and a pupil at Fordham Primary School, won a bronze.
Both youngsters took part in three contests with Blowes recording wins in all his bouts in the 23kgs section and Allan winning two at 21kgs.
The boys, who started learning the martial art only 16 months ago, are pupils of Sensei Trevor Steward at the Thetford Dojo based in Breckland Sports Centre.
“Joel and Jude were fantastic,” said Sensei Steward who is also a national coach. “We are very proud of them both.”
It was the first time the championships had been held at Newmarket and the venue proved very successful with 90 children competing in the morning competition for four to eight-year-olds and another 120 in the junior eight to 13 age group in the afternoon.
About 400 spectators packed the hall to watch the hotly-contested bouts among them Blowes’ parents, record-breaking endurance athlete Ben and Louise and Jim and Nicki Allan, Allan’s father and mother.
Despite being a comparative newcomer on the scene, Ishin Ryu is now one of the country’s premier martial arts organisations with more than 13,000 students nationwide.
“It is a fantastic sport for youngsters to take up,” added Steward. “It is much more than just a martial art — it builds confidence and emphasises respect for themselves and others.”