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Craven world champions aiming for more success

Daniel and Christopher White

Published at 4:15pm 22nd December 2015. (Updated at 4:20pm 22nd December 2015)

Two brothers from Flasby, near Gargrave, have both now become world champions in the martial art of Aikido.

17-year-old Christopher White has followed in his 21-year-old brother Daniel's footsteps by claiming a title in Switzerland.

Daniel previously won in 2010.

The pair are now hoping to compete with the British team in future events in Spain, New York and Japan.

They're also hoping that some form of sponsorship could help them and others achieve their dreams.

Daniel said: "My brother and I would really like to take the sport further and encourage others to take it up. We'd like the sport to get more recognition."

Up until now, the boys have relied on the support of their parents, coaches and Craven District Council's FANS scheme at Craven Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre in Skipton, which gives free membership to local elite and talented athletes.

Daniel used to work there as a fitness instructor, before becoming an advanced teaching assistant at a primary school.

The brothers also help their father Stephen with coaching juniors and adults at Skipton Aikido Club on Friday evenings.

Daniel added: "My brother's progressing up the ranks and I'd like to continue progressing myself, through competitions and coaching.

"The FANS membership has helped considerably, having access to the gym has had a real impact and it's taken some of the financial strain off the whole thing.

"I've had endless support from my family, they've been absolutely fantastic, getting us to and from training, getting us to competitions.

"My coach has trained me since I was five, Bob Jones, he's been a fantastic coach and he's taught me lots of life lessons and inspired me."

Daniel started the sport when he was just five, after becoming a target for bullies.

He added: "I was getting bullied a lot at school and this was something I could do outside of school to help build some confidence.

"One day there was a competition announced, and I went to compete and came away with a bronze medal. It just went on from there really. At the next competition, I ended up coming away with a gold medal.

"It does give you that little bit of self-confidence. Aikido's taught me not to be overconfident, but given me a little bit extra. It's taught me a lot of life lessons about having respect and being humble.

"It teaches you a lot of discipline as well. To be successful on competition days, you've got to be as fit as you can be, you've got to put the training in. You've got to know yourself inside out and be able to take everything that comes at you on the day. There's also an element of luck - it can go either way. You've got to be mentally prepared and flexible. You might have to change your game plan on the day."

The boys' mum, Caroline, said: "In the past, like many other parents, we have always been pleased to fund their training and competitions because they, along with their coaches, have shown such dedication, commitment and effort.

"Winning competitions and medals of course are a bonus, however, Aikido has taught them so much more. Both Daniel and Christopher have had the opportunity to mix with individuals of different ages, abilities and cultures which ultimately equips them with valuable life skills.

"In the past, both Daniel and Christopher have been reluctant to shout about their achievements, although they are keen to do what they can to promote the sport and for others to benefit as they have.

"Future competitions and training events in Europe, the USA and the next World Championships due to be held in Japan in 2017 will be challenging in many ways, practically, physically and financially, as both boys continue to pursue further education and professional qualifications."

More information about Skipton Aikido Club at www.cravendc.gov.uk/article/3007/Aikido

Anyone who is able to support the brothers or the British team in their quest for future medals is asked to e-mail jcornish@cravendc.gov.uk or call 01756 706315.