A local teenager who was bullied at school for being overweight has now achieved a black belt in Taekwondo.
Leah Harbinson, who lives in the Moyraverty area, has been awarded the black belt by the highest ranking instructors in the UK.
Now, 18, Leah still remembers how she was bullied and teased during her primary school and early secondary school days for being overweight.
Then she spotted a leaflet through her door about Taekwondo classes, started training and has never looked back.
“When people know you are a black belt they are less likely to bother you,” she said.
Leah, who trains at least twice a week, has been studying Taekwondo for five years and she freely admits it has been tough.
Leah said: “It’s the only achievement I’m proud of. Anyone can revise for a test the night before and wing it. You can’t do that with any sport. It took four years to get my black belt, and those years weren’t easy.
“I’d recommend it for most beginners, especially those with low confidence, as at the start it eases you in and doesn’t expect you to break boards on the first day. My instructor always said ‘do what you can’ and never makes anyone do anything they can’t,” said Leah.
Her instructor, Kevin McCourt who runs classes at Brownlow Recreation Centre and is also Chairman for Northern Ireland Taekwondo, said he is ‘very proud’ of her achievement.
The former Lismore pupil also trains some of the children’s classes and some of the lower classes.
With a first Dan black belt, Leah places to continue training to achieve higher dans.
“It was the first thing that I really stuck at and is just shows what I can do. If I can achieve a black belt, anyone can,” she said.