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Chingford Hatch's Olympic torch-bearer Jamaal Otto targetting world junior karate title
8:00am Sunday 27th October 2013 in Sport
A teenager who carried the Olympic torch through Walthamstow last year is competing to become world junior karate champion next month.
Jamaal Otto, 17, of Chingford Hatch, is following in the footsteps of his father, who is nine times world karate champion and former national coach for the England karate team, Wayne Otto OBE.
Jamaal already competes for England and won a bronze medal in the European Karate Championships earlier this year but will be going for gold at the World Junior and Kadet Championships in Guadalajara, Spain, on November 6.
Jamaal started training at the age of seven with a rigorous routine of around 18 hours of training a week at Larkswood Leisure Centre in New Road, Chingford, fitted in around his school studies at Heathcotes School in Normanton Drive, Chingford.
When he turns 18 in December, he will be eligible to compete at senior championships and hopes to secure a position on England’s senior team.
Jamaal said: “I take great inspiration from my dad. I always have what I plan to achieve in mind and I stay focused on whatever the goal is. I have a very competitive nature so when I think about an opponent I’m often highly motivated and driven to complete a task.”
Jamaal has been able to do all of his training for free thanks to funding from the GLL Sports Foundation, a social enterprise fund set up in 2008 to help young athletes achieve their potential.
He said: “Karate is a self-funded sport, so any funding or support given is really appreciated.”
Jamaal says he has struggled to focus on his A levels as well as the karate but he is managing to fit both in.
He said: “My classmates treat me the same as I tend not to talk too much about karate at school so only those closest to me would really understand the level I compete at.”
Jamaal takes his sporting inspiration from Mike Tyson, adding: “He is also a fighter and I find his words very motivating.”