September 02 2016

A FISHPONDS schoolboy is in a class of his own after becoming a world champion in Taekwondo.

world champ

A FISHPONDS schoolboy is in a class of his own after becoming a world champion in Taekwondo.

Joel Cassar has been perfecting his art since he was four, becoming a black belt at the tender age of 13.

The 14-year-old has collected dozens of medals and cups over the years but none as special as the gold he won when he competed against other black belts in a recent competition.

Facing some tough competition, including boys who were two years older than him, 

Joel took gold in the under 16s lightweight sparring category at the International Taekwondo Federation World Championships in Brighton.

Joel also gained gold and bronze medals in the International Open Championships which were also held in Brighton during the same week.

Joel hones his skills at Fishponds Taewkwondo Academy where he is taught by 4th degree black belt Karen Lear and 3rd degree black belt David Lear. Karen said: “There were 45 countries in attendance and some very tough competition from around the world. This was Joel’s first outing on the international stage and he certainly did us all proud to achieve this, working his way through many rounds and fighting against many countries including Canada and Argentina.  

“Joel started training in Taekwondo when he was four and has certainly worked hard to achieve this. As his instructor I couldn’t be prouder.”

Joel, a Bristol Metropolitan Academy student, is so dedicated he trains every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and every other Saturday, increasing his sessions when he has a competition coming up.

Mum Karen Purdie said: “I was in shock when he won - not because I didn’t think he could do it but because we just thought it was brilliant he even got to that level of competition. We thought if he goes out in the first round, we’re still really proud of him. When he went on to win it, I was just stunned and it took a few days to sink in what he had achieved. We’re very proud of him.”

Buoyed by his success, Joel is now preparing go for his 2nd degree black belt in October.

He will continue to receive plenty of support from his family who know exactly what Joel is going through as they all practice Taekwondo as well. 

His 12-year-old brother Jamie, also a student at Bristol Met, is just about to take his black belt. And since starting out two years ago, mum Karen is now a blue belt and dad Paul is just about to go through pre-grading to become a blue belt.

Karen said: “We all train as a family. Myself and Paul would sit there watching Joel and Jamie and, because they train so much, there was never any time for us to do something separately. We thought we might as well join them!”