Shelley martial arts star Alex Needham has taken a huge step in achieving his dream of competing for Great Britain in taekwondo at the Olympics.
The 17-year-old, who has been practicing taekwondo since 2008, has been called up to represent Great Britain in the Under 21 European Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, from September 26 to 28.
Back from an injury which kept him out for four months, the Shelley Academy student has been on a keen winning streak, stopping four of his last five opponents by 12-point gap.
Needham’s instructor, Master Mosy (5th Dan) from Premier Taekwondo, said: “Alex is one of two brothers (Tim is the other) who are the hardest working students and, since returning from injury, Alex has become quicker and stronger.
“He helps with the younger students, trains six days a week and works part time to fund his dreams.
“Students like Alex are rare, his dedication and commitment to train are second to none.
“He has overcome personal tragedy when his mother passed away in 2007 but he works hard to make her proud.”
Needham, currently British Champion, is hopeful he can bring home a medal from Austria.
“I’ve worked hard but now I’ve got to take my training to another level to try and win the tournament,” he said.
“I can only control my training and performance, so can’t determine the outcome, but I want to bring home gold.”
Needham is in the middle of studying for A levels at the moment and is balancing training, studying, a part-time job and fundraising – but he says he wouldn’t change a thing!
“It’s an honour to represent GB and not many people get the chance,” he said.
“Hopefully I can use this as a platform to the Olympics. Without the support and encouragement of my family, in particular my dad and step mum, I could not have achieved this.
“I want to say thanks to my coach, Master Mosy, and the coaches at GB – Tony Grisman, Gareth Brown, Peter Hankin and Sarah Stephenson MBE – who have kept their faith in me.”
Needham will be fundraising over the coming weeks and any support would be greatly appreciated.
He is also looking for sponsorship from companies, or any small donation at http://www.gofundme.com/dtt0ts .
Anyone who wants to help can contact his father, Alan, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07590 080162.