Karate kid Gary Mardell has dedicated his national gold medal triumph to his grandmother.

The 15-year-old, from Portslade, won the under-16s title at the Shi-Kon Association Championships at Bromley. It was his first major contest. His grandmother Connie, who lives in Burgess Hill, is registered blind and suffers from diabetes.

Mardell, of Kicks Martial Arts Centre, said: "My victory is dedicated to my nan. My family moved to Sussex a couple of months ago from the North so we could be closer to her and I know she'll be very proud of my victory. She's a real supporter and sponsors my trips.

"It feels really good to win a national title. It's a surprise because I have only been involved in karate for ten months. But I wouldn't have won anything without the help my coaches Paul Simmons, Chris Kent and Terry Robins at KICKS. They have been been an inspiration."

Connie has three reasons to smile because Gary's sister Lisa, 14, and brother Karl, 12, won silver medals in their age groups. The children are educated at home and karate is on the curriculum.

Gary said: "It's been a big help because we're able to spend 20 hours a week doing it. It's a lot more competitive than I was used to in the North and it's paid off."

Mum Sonya and dad Francis are their teachers in other subjects. Francis said: "The home education started because Lisa was at a rough school and wasn't very assertive. It works well and they enjoy games because it means they can spend that time doing karate."

Connie is delighted with her grandchildren's success. The 65-year-old said: "I'm very proud. The children are marvellous. I give them money for their karate expenses. It costs them a fortune. I can't afford much because I only get a pension. I'll have to start saving again for their Christmas box." Robins is delighted. He said: "The family have done so well, so quickly."

Hailsham's Jaimi Keyte, 14, retained the girls' under-16s title, defeating Essex's Amy Carrigan-Smith in the final for the second successive year. The KICKS competitor said: "I was confident because I'd beaten her but it was tougher than I thought it would be."

Jaimi, who won a bronze medal at the World Children's Championships last year, recently took a gold at the Millennium Capital Youth Open. Now she is planning a trip to New York. She said: "I'd love to compete in the Big Apple Junior Open, but I need sponsorship."

Richard D'Urso, 16, from Lewes, completed a hat-trick for Sussex and KICKS in the cadet under-70 kilos. The Lewes Tertiary College pupil's scheduled opponent, England international Leon Martin (London), pulled out with a cut eye before their final.

Cardinal Newman pupil Martin Lovett, 16, from Peacehaven and KICKS, lost in the quarter-finals to Wayne Gill (London). International Paul Ellis, 18, a KICKS fighter from Rodmell, won a bronze medal at under-80kilos. KICKS' Nathan Holden, 14, from Portslade and Hove Park School, also won bronze medal, in the under-60kilos.

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