A REIGNING champion has defended his title in a hard pitched battle of skills and tactics.
Barnard Castle School student Marc Falco Ribera has retained his European Championship Taekwondo title defeating competitors older and taller than himself.
The blackbelt martial arts expert secured the prestigious accolade in his home city of Barcelona with his trademark round kick scoring highly.
Despite being a year young for the U16 class, he defeated a contender from Portugal 5-3 in the final to retain his title in a three day tournament that saw the 1st Dan fighter compete seven times.
“I was so pleased to win for the second consecutive year, particularly on home ground,” said Marco, an international boarding student at Barnard Castle School, where he is aiming to perfect his English before embarking on a career in business.
“There was extra pressure this year as I was the title-holder and there were people in the competition I had not fought before who were very good. So I was very pleased to win.”
The 15-year-old, who took up Taekwondo seven years ago, is now trying to decide whether he will compete again in the world championships, which this year take place in Arkansas, America. Last year he finished third in his category.
Headmaster Alan Stevens said: “I’m so pleased for Marc and to retain this title in his home city must give him added satisfaction.
“To compete at this level so consistently, while living away from home and Spain, is a measure of his dedication to his sport. I’m delighted that he has also fitted in so well at school where he is progressing excellently in his studies and in improving his English.”