A STUDENT has won gold for England at the karate world championships.

After being bullied at school and in desperate need of a confidence boost, Grace Baron started learning karate when she was just eight-years-old.

Now 15, the St Joseph’s High pupil competes on the world’s stage for England in the sport and has just won big at the world championships in Dublin last week.

Up against more than 1,000 competitors from 30 member countries, Grace claimed the gold medal in the team event with her England squad, along with a bronze in the individual round.

Proud mum Michelle spoke of the “great week” of competing: “Grace was over the moon. She was competing against people from Brazil, Argentina, Japan.

“She was jumping for joy her scores were so high. We’re extremely proud, she works so hard and she’s a credit to us because she just gets on with it.”

But the second dan black belt has not always been so powerful. Mrs Baron said: “Grace started because she was being bullied at school and her confidence was being knocked. There was a recruitment drive at school one day and she came home and said she wanted to give it a go.

“It was the best thing she has ever done. To go from no confidence and being very shy to stepping on a mat in front of thousands of people is a big step.”

Grace now juggles GCSEs and her training, maintaining her focus on homework from her school in Horwich while attending training sessions four nights a week in Leeds, for the England squad, and in Manchester, for home team the Red Tiger Karate Club.

The master of karate hopes to join the RAF as a pilot in the future. Grace’s younger sister, Isabella, is successful in her own right. Known as “the pocket rocket”, the 11-year-old joined the England team in January and is “chasing her sister in the medal tally”.

The Barons, who live in Aspull, are keeping karate in the family, with the two girls being coached by dad, Mike.