A young karate star is crediting martial arts training for helping her make a quick recovery from a life-threatening medical condition.

Natalie Headland, 13, of Rife Way, Ferring, near Worthing, almost died after suffering a ruptured liver last May.

Now the Angmering Sports College pupil has bounced back against all odds and underlined her recovery by beating one of the world's top karate fighters for her age group.

She competed in the under-16s kumite fighting event at the Slovenian Tenth Anniversary of Independence Championships, beating the host country's competitor Tamara Kronja, who is also European champion.

Experts are still not sure what caused Natalie's liver to rupture but think it might have been a combination of a fall from her bike and a hard knock during karate training.

Natalie was so sick she cannot remember much about what happened but her mother Penny went through hell when she realised how ill her daughter was.

Penny said: "She had an accident on her bike and in training. She went to bed as normal, just a little sore but the next morning she woke up being sick.

"We went to our GP and on to Worthing hospital. A surgeon diagnosed the problem. She'd been bleeding internally and if that had carried on, she would have died."

Natalie had to be airlifted to a hospital in Southampton. By the time she had an operation she had been bleeding for more than 19 hours.

After two operations she started to convalesce, amazing her doctors with the speed of her recovery.

Natalie, who trains at Tarring Karate Club and is a second dan black belt, said: "The medical people said the fact I was so fit was a big help. It has given me a lot of confidence as well.

"I want to be a world champion one day. Hopefully, what I have gone through can be an inspiration."

Her mother said: "She'd been doing karate since she was five and I think her condition and general fitness definitely helped her through.

"We're so grateful she is still alive. I'm amazed by her. She's a pocket dynamo with so much energy."

"We were told it was a ten-million-to-one chance of her suffering what she suffered and the surgeons were amazed by her fast recovery."