Aberdeenshire Blackbelt Club’s Rico Campins was delighted to return from the ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships with a bronze medal.
Rico, 17, reached the semi-final in individual sparring (junior under-75kg category) at the biannual event, which was held in Inzell, Germany.
It was a cathartic moment for the teenager, who was disappointed with a ninth-place finish at the championships two years ago in the 69kg category.
Rico, who plans to frame his bronze medal, said: “A couple of years ago, I came ninth and was a bit disappointed.
“You can never go in expecting a medal, but I was hopeful of getting one. The standard’s always high at a world championships, and every round it gets harder and harder as you get more tired.
“The whole team and club have been very supportive.”
As for what’s next, Rico said: “The Europeans are later in the year and will be my last competition as a junior.
“It’s then about trying to climb and get back up there in the senior ranks.”
The championships featured entrants from 64 countries, with the Ellon athlete reaching the last four of 60 individual sparring competitors in his weight class.
Sparring is one of four disciplines in taekwon-do, alongside patterns, jumping kicks and power breathing (smashing boards), with one point awarded for connecting with a punch on your opponent, two points for a body kick and three points for a head kick.
His route to the bronze was through five rounds with some of the best junior talent on the planet.
Second dan black belt Rico defeated rivals from Ireland, Uzbekistan and Norway, before being matched in the semis.
The Argentinian competitor beat Rico by just one point, before going on to win the gold – which underscores Rico’s achievement.
Rico’s dad Jamie, who runs Aberdeenshire Blackbelt Club, was forced to watch the bouts on a live stream from the north-east because of work commitments – which he described as “nerve-racking”.
Jamie said he “was over the moon” when Rico received his medal. “He’s been working so hard for this. He planned out his diet to make weight and everything, really taking it seriously,” he added.
A former competitive taekwon-do athlete himself, Jamie thinks Rico’s achievements – as well as those of first dan black belt Kayleigh Mankin, 15, who was also selected for the worlds – will inspire the rest of the club’s members.
He said: “Kayleigh didn’t get a medal, but she really did quite well. She was selected for individual sparring for U-55kg and also took part in the team patterns.
“Kayleigh did the team sparring as well, as did Rico.
“When you think about a club the size of ours, with 40 members, to have two people in the squad is a great achievement.”