A Horley teenager will represent Great Britain in the para-taekwondo championships in Poland on Saturday (September 17).
Alex Hutchings, 16, was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality, meaning he has severe learning difficulties and a heart condition for which he has needed surgery.
It started when he joined his brother, Joseph, at the Livingwell Taekwondo Club at Horley Leisure Centre.
Mum Karen said: “At the end of the session, Master Derek Sumner approached us and suggested he could work with Alex doing some kicking and punching to help his muscle tone and flexibility.
“Alex started the next week with another para taekwondo club member as his mentor, black belt Marc Lynes, and it soon became clear how much he loved the sessions. He gained his first belt in December 2012 and is currently a black tag (red belt with black stripe) which is one below the First Dan Black Belt. It was just the fact he was able to do the same thing as his brother and be part of the group. It’s lovely to see it.”
He has already picked up several medals and the family are now raising funds for his bright sporting future.
A fun day at the Charcoal Burner pub in Furnace Green in Saturday raised more than £1,000 towards the trip to Poland.
Karen said: “The Charcoal Burner staff alongside Alex’s grandparents and their friends raised over £1,000 on Saturday thanks to the generosity of the pub customers.
“It was a lot of hard work for the group that planned it as everything was organised in the space of three weeks.”
The taekwondo has had multiple benefits for him.
Karen said: “Taekwondo has helped his concentration, his muscle strength but most of all the flexibility of his legs. He did require regular botox injections to keep his hamstrings relaxed enough to perform physio but has not needed them recently thanks to the stretching exercises that Master Derek, the other coaches and the young black belts, including his brother, Joseph, do with Alex during the classes.”