A DUDLEY teenager is celebrating after being selected to join the the Under 21 England karate squad.

Dan Eccles, who is a black belt 2nd Dan, now hopes to represent his country in the Banzai Cup in Germany in September and is ultimately aiming to compete in the Olympics.

Celebrating the news, he said: “I was at training when I found out so I didn’t want to be too excited as there were others waiting to hear, but inside I was like a little boy, saying ‘yes!’. I have been working towards something and it paid off, so it was a good feeling.”

The 18-year-old was inspired to follow his dream after getting into karate aged nine when he saw a demonstration at primary school.

He said: “I remember someone came into my primary school when I was young and they did a karate demonstration and my mum asked me if I wanted to start lessons.

“After my first few lessons I realised I was better at this than at football and I slowly started to build up and realised that I needed to focus on karate. Once I started to get into it and competing that’s when I began to love the sport. What I love most is the competition aspect.

The former Ellowes Hall student is currently in his first year studying Sports Therapy at the University of Worcester, where he juggles his studies with more than ten hours a week of training.

Dan, who trains with the Kaisho Karate Club in Halesowen, took part in a number of England selection days at the end of last year and won a place alongside only six others in his age group across the country.

He is no stranger to success- Dan was previously selected for the England Under 17s squad and has competed for the England team at the Junior and Under 21 European Championships in Russia in 2018.

While he trains for further international success, Dan is being supported by the university through its Sports Scholarship programme, where he receives financial, academic and lifestyle help.

Dan added: "It’s also good to have someone to help you who is not focused on academic work or karate but on me as a person, helping me to grow to be a better athlete. It’s good to know the support is there when I need it.

“It can be stressful at times and a lot for me, but I always try to take a step back. I always think about my end goal. I know it’s going to be hard, but something that’s worth doing is not going to be easy.”