SOFIA Sutherland has every reason to be smiling.
The Hartlepool youngster has won a dance championship – and she did it against contestants who were much older than her.
The talented 10-year-old travelled to Middlesbrough, to take part in the Northern Stage Championship, were she was one of the youngest contestants in her dance category.
She had just moved up to the 10-14 year section and found herself in the mix against more than 60 rivals.
But Sofia was so good, she fought her way to the finals – and then beat the remaining contenders to be crowned junior tap champion.
It left her family and dance school owner over the moon with her debut success at the new level.
Mandy Watson, who owns the Mandy Watson Academy of Dance and Performing Arts dance school, where Sofia trains, said: “All the children in the finals were older than her, and yet she was the one who won it.
“I was so proud of her. She is one of those people who lives and breathes dancing.
“She is always practising, and she is in five times a week.”
Sofia’s proud mum Helen said: “She has been a pupil at the Watson Academy of Dance since she was three years old. She is now 10.”
Sofia, who is also a pupil at Hart Primary School, studies many types of dance including tap, ballet and acrobatics.
Helen added: “She trains up to six days a week at Watson Academy, and she really enjoys it. This is the second time she has won a regional championship in tap, the first time was in 2012 when she was nine.
“The recent win was quite a surprise as she moved in to the 10-14 years age category last year which is much more difficult.”
Sofia and the rest of her dance school are looking forward to competing in their next major competition at Blackpool in August.
Sofia’s other interests include singing, running cross county and art.