Comet Community Awards: Black belt karate kid from Stevenage fights on in memory of father

Jermain got his black belt in December

Jermain got his black belt in December - Credit: Archant

A karate kid from Stevenage who turned to his love of the challenging sport to help him cope with the death of his father has been nominated for the Young Achiever accolade at this year’s Comet Community Awards.

Jermain Straker was put forward by his uncle Paul for his fantastic sporting achievements, which have led to him being selected for the England squad.

He’s now started training with the team at their base in Westminster, even though he is just 11.

Jermain immersed himself in karate when his filmmaking father Mark tragically died suddenly in October 2013 from pancreatitis, an inflamation in the pancreas which was triggered by an infected tooth.

Paul said: “Mark’s death left Jermain and the family utterly devastated. He started karate four years ago and he’s taken to the sport like a duck to water.

“You get so many children who sit playing Playstation or X Box but he is so active and ambitious.

“It would be fantastic if he won the award because we have always told him hard work pays off.”

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In December, Jermain – pictured proudly showing off the honour, right – achieved a black belt in karate, and now he’s got his sights set on qualifying for the European Junior Championships in May.

His mother Becky said: “He works so hard, he’s gifted in all areas. He spends so much time training outside of school to achieve his goals.

“Having his father passing has given Jermain an extra focus and drive. He works hard to make his dad proud.

“Mark was very involved in sport himself and he really encouraged Jermain with his karate and football.”

Becky describes her son, who goes to the Richard Hale School in Hertford, as a “quiet child who is very focused on his sport and his studies.”

It seems sport runs in the family. Becky was an exceptional swimmer as a youngster, dad Mark was a keen footballer and Jermaine’s sisters Jade, aged 10, and Kiera, who is eight, are both martial arts enthusiasts, too.

The 2015 Comet Community Awards – celebrating local community heroes nominated by our readers – will take place at The Forum Conference and Banqueting Suite in Stevenage on Friday, May 15.

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