A young Buncrana kickboxer will be going for gold this weekend at the junior world cup in Derry’s Foyle arena.
Ten-year-old Liam Grant will compete in the K1 division against the cream of the sport’s international talent - and his coach believes he will shine against them.
Vaidas Natkus, who runs the Senshi Martial Arts Academy in Umricam, is no stranger to success himself, having lifted the Irish middleweight pro title in 2013.
And he says he spotted that same winning spirit in Scoil Iosagain student Liam when he walked through the doors of his club two years ago.
He told us: “From the very beginning, Liam has shown that he has great style and great character.
“He’s been doing really well in his previous fights and now he has the chance to show just how good he is on Saturday.
“He’e been training five nights a week and he has the right mentality. I ask him ‘what do you want to be?’ and every time he says ‘I want to be a fighter’.
“This will be a real test for him, and it’s exciting for me because it’s my biggest fight as a trainer.
“I’ve been telling him ‘keep visualising winning’ and how amazing it will feel when that medal goes around his neck.”
And the Lithuanian, who moved to Buncrana 14 years ago, says Liam and the other youngsters he coaches at the academy are a testament to the benefits of participation in martial arts.
“I’ve been involved in kickboxing since I was eight years old,” he said, “and for me it really built my character and taught me about self-discipline.
“The kids learn the benefits of hard work and how to channel their energy in a positive way.
“Liam is a perfect example of that. He’s a great kid and I know he’ll give it everything he’s got on Saturday.”
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