BAILEY Baker missed out on the medals – but secured a top 16 spot at the world junior karate championships in his first outing for England.
Baker put on a stunning performance to make the third round of the championships in Spain and went down fighting.
The 15-year-old took his Croatian opponent to a 4-4 draw on the buzzer – having pulled it back with a super head kick to get three points in the dying seconds of the bout.
After the draw the decision went to the judges who again drew the bout with two flags each – but the referee, with the deciding vote, gave it to the Croatian which put the Peterlee-trained teenager out.
A win would have taken Baker to the quarter-final of the cadet, 14-15yrs, U70 kilo category.
Sadly, his opponent lost in the semi-final, putting Baker out of the fight off for bronze, but he came away from his first major tournament making the last 16 in the world – a huge result.
Baker returned home with the squad yesterday, but there will be no rest as he faces further selections in two weeks for February’s junior European Championships, where he will be challenging in the 16-17yrs junior category.
The Total Sport-sponsored talent, who trains at East Durham Ishinryu karate club based at East Durham College, said: “I am disappointed not have taken a medal, but pleased with my performance overall.
“I worked so hard in the lead up and felt sure I could have gone on to make the medals.
“But the decision went the other way.
“I was gutted, but it is all a learning curve and I have to use this experience to improve and come back stronger.”
Coach Gavin Foster added: “This was a fantastic achievement by Bailey to get to the last 16 in the world in his first major international and first outing for the England squad.
“He will return full of confidence and I think he will go from strength to strength after this.”