A University of Worcester student has been selected for the Under 21 England karate squad.
Dan Eccles, a first year Sports Therapy student, from Dudley, was inspired to take up the sport after seeing a demonstration at his primary school.
The 18-year-old, who is a black belt 2nd Dan, 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.”
Dan, who combines his studies with more than 10 hours a week of training, receives support from the University through its Sports Scholarship programme. He took part in a number of England selection days at the end of last year. Only six others across the country were selected for his age group.
Dan has been in the England programme for a couple of years after being previously selected for the England Under 17s squad. He has previously competed for the England team at the Junior and Under 21 European Championships in Russia in 2018.
He now hopes to represent England in the Banzai Cup in Germany in September and at another competition in Venice. But ultimately he hopes one day to compete in the Olympics.
Dan, who trains with the Kaisho Karate Club in Halesowen, first got into karate at nine years old. “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,” he said. “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 University’s Sport Scholarship programme gives students financial and academic support, but also access to specialist lifestyle advice. Dan says that the financial support he receives through the programme helps him to compete abroad and with equipment.
“It really helps make achieving the goals and dreams that I have in life a lot easier,” he 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.”