West Lothian Taekwondo champion Ian Ford's death sees tributes paid and fundraiser set up for his funeral

Tributes paid to talented Taekwondo champion who died at the age of 20

Coaches of a talented Taekwondo champion who died suddenly last week are raising funds to give the 20-year-old the send-off he deserves.

Ian Ford, from Armadale, brought home the Taekwondo junior world championship title aged just 15 in 2017 – a win that his club Pro-Edge Martial Arts described as a “record breaking achievement”. The former Armadale Academy student started out at the club when he was nine years old after signing up to do kickboxing. But instructors soon spotted his potential for martial arts the minute he hit the mat and fast-tracked him into Taekwondo tuition.

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Ian then dominated at every level, holding an unbeaten record for six years before he went on to compete internationally. He earned his black belt in 2017 and a short time later, was awarded the title of World Champion.

Ian Ford with his coach Robin Blair

After hearing of Ian’s sudden death last week, the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) Scotland set up a page and is raising funds to support the funeral costs and give him a fitting send-off. On Wednesday it topped £3,965 smashing the £1,000 target. A message on the GoFundMe page said he will be greatly missed in the Taekwondo and kickboxing community.

More than 100 people also gathered on Sunday as balloons were released in a gesture of condolence for Ian. His parents attended a special grading ceremony which saw tribute paid to Ian, which the club described as “a wonderful and emotional show of support from a tight community joined in grief”.

The club also paid tribute to Ian on social media. It said: "He was a quiet kid with a steely focus that set him apart from the other students. He competed at every level and dominated at sparring in every division, he was cool headed, hard to read and able to throw techniques from unexpected angles which perplexed his opponents, as a junior he remained undefeated.

"At the the ITF Taekwondo World Championships in Ireland Ian breezed through the early rounds and when Master Blair suggested that a bronze medal might be on the cards, Ian uncharacteristically replied that he was there to take the gold, much to everyone’s surprise he did exactly that and became the first Scottish Junior Male to take the title, it was a record breaking achievement.

“It was clear that Ian was at his happiest with his sparring gear on, it may have been the only time that he had total control over his domain and found some solace. Ian was a solemn character and you were lucky to get a handful of words out of him that didn’t involve asking you to spar. Luckily for many of our club members he was humble, respectful and always able to pull a punch or kick when matched against a less experienced opponent.”

It added: "Ian was a phenomenal talent that blitzed his way into our club and our hearts. Defeat was never on the cards for him, and although we will mourn his passing the Instructors at Pro-Edge have chosen this time to celebrate that quiet little boy and everything he achieved.”