A NINE-YEAR-OLD taekwondo fighter has followed in his father's footsteps by winning a gold medal at the British Championships.

James Smith, a pupil of Burley Woodhead Primary School, was victorious in the yellow belt junior boys event and also won a bronze in the sparring competition, held at Worcester University.

His father, Duncan, is a former world bronze champion and has captured a couple of British titles himself.

James, who started his training at the Rawdon Taekwondo Club a couple of years ago, featured in the 137cm category and fought four times in the run-up to the final in which he won after his opponent was not in a fit enough state to carry on.

Duncan believes his son can go all the way in the sport and is proud that he has put previous defeats behind him to shine when it matters.

He said: "It was unbelievable, he did so well and worked so hard to get it.

"I was hoping he just got something but to pick up the gold, it was pretty special.

"He had a tough time in Scotland, nearly giving up, against some higher belts who gave him a bit of a rough ride.

"But I said 'come on now, we will go again' and he has bounced back by doing some extra work at the club. The last few weeks he has come out of his shell and gone for it.

"I have been double British champion and I am a black belt now so he has followed in my footsteps, which is pretty good.

"I think he can go a long way and hope he is better than me as long as he sticks at it.

"We will just keep an eye on him for now, the sky is the limit, we won't push him and we’ll just let him do what he wants to do."

Duncan, originally from Hereford, moved up to Yorkshire after marrying his wife Rachel.

Duncan, 48, only came into the sport more than a decade ago, but is proud with what he has achieved and hopes to now inspire the next generation coming through.

He said: "I fancied giving it a go and I have now been doing it for 13 years.

"I started quite late on at 35 and that was by luck. I entered a few competitions myself but didn’t do very well.

"On my third attempt, I won the British Championships and did it again so I won about 19 trophies in total.

"I have just now become an instructor, so I am going to open a new school, next year in either Burley or Ilkley."