A TRIO of taekwondo enthusiasts who train in Prestatyn have earned impressive new gradings after years of tireless practice.

Lewis Byles, Elinor Bonnett and Freya Roberts-Howie, based at Denbighshire Taekwondo Academy & Family Martial Arts Centre in Prestatyn, also recently represented Wales at the UK Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival.

Lewis and Elinor, both from Flint, are now 2nd Dan, 2nd Star Black Belts, while Freya, from Rhyl, has become a 1st Dan, 1st Star.

It follows their success at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival at the NEC in Birmingham earlier this month, when each of their teams took home either a gold, silver or bronze medal in a tournament comprising representatives from each of the four home nations.

Head instructor Gareth Pritchard said: “It’s a minimum of four years’ training to get their 1st Dan and then the older two, Elinor and Lewis, are 2nd Dan, so that’s another four years on top of that. So, they’ve been training a minimum of eight years.

“The Star grade is an extra grading for the juniors because they have to wait double the length of time to go for their 2nd Dan and above. Kids are starting martial arts a lot younger these days, so we just want to keep the credibility in martial arts so that they’re not stupidly young with really high grades.

“The three of them train five days a week, for two to three hours a night. They’re the exception; a lot of my students train five days a week, but not for two to three hours at a time.

“They had to train with a Welsh coach in Cardiff every Sunday for months leading up to that (Arnold Schwarzenegger event). They were sparring; Freya in the girls’ division, Lewis in the boys’, Elinor in the ladies’. Mike my son, was also representing the mens’.

“The boys and men won their division, Freya and the girls won silver and Elinor and the ladies got bronze.

“I’m so proud of how well they’ve done and how hard they’ve trained, and the hard training’s just paid off for them. We’ve got lots of others up and coming who will no doubt go on to the Welsh team in the future as well.”