A WEST Lothian teenager with a six-year unbeaten record in martial arts has been crowned the first Scottish world champion in the sport for 20 years.
Fearless 15-year-old, Ian Ford, a fighter from Armadale, won the gold medal at the TaeKwon-Do junior world championships.
The youngster, who took up the sport at nine-years-old, brought home the title for Scotland at the International TaeKwon-Do Federation (ITF) tournament in Dublin.
Ian, a pupil at Armadale Academy, was unphased as he battled through six fights before landing the gold medal in his final bout against a Spanish fighter.
Ian, who trains up to 20 hours a week, is a member of Armadale’s Pro-Edge Martial Arts club and instructed by Master Robin Blair who was blown away by his protégé’s determination.
Robin said: “Ian’s achievement is phenomenal.
“We didn’t expect him to get past the first round, not because he’s not good enough but the standard is so high and despite six years of training this was the biggest platform in the world.”
Robin wanted Ian to get a taste of fighting in front of a huge audience.
“But then I saw the way he was winning each fight and I started to get a real feeling.
“He was fearless – showing no nerves in front of thousands of spectators.
“This is a kid who doesn’t have much but who has invested time and effort into developing his natural ability and he deserves a huge amount of recognition.”
The teen started off wanted to do kickboxing but instructors at the club spotted his natural talent the minute he hit the mat.
Robin said: “He’s super-flexible and has lightning speed in his hands and feet. I felt that was best-suited to TaeKwon-Do, so we fast-tracked him into the sport.
“Six years on, he’s proving to be the smash-hit that we all hoped and expected he would be.
“The exciting thing is he can get much better still.”
Ian’s victory extends a run of success which stretches back to the age of nine, when he first started competing in TaeKwon-Do.
He’s fought more than 100 competition fights and lost none.
And the club and his fellow fighters backed him by helping to raise £1000, the cost of attending the competition in Dublin.
They staged bag-packing fundraisers at Tesco and Asda stores in West Lothian.
The tournament, which attracted competitors from 62 countries, has not been won by a Scottish fighter in 20 years.
Ian will next put his lightning speed skills to the test again in the junior European Championships in Slovenia in April.