A WEST Wylam girl has achieved her black belt in karate – at just eight years old.

Islay Faye Appleby followed in her dad and grandad’s footsteps into the martial art three years ago.

She achieved the milestone earlier this month, just a week after coming third in an open brown belt competition where she faced off against much older opponents.

The youngster even travelled to Japan last year, staying with her grandparents to train.

Her grandad, David, spoke of Islay’s dedication to the martial art.

He said: “She’s been doing it for three years and she practises every night. She doesn’t mind, nobody makes her do it, she just does it.

“She’s so determined. She’s not sat pressing buttons on her phone.

“This was the second time she went for a black belt. Very few people get it the first time, but she was shattered when she didn’t.

“It just made her more determined, and it’s paid off now.

“Islay is half-Japanese, and both me and her dad used to do karate – I was a brown belt. With us talking about it, she wanted to start.

“Her ambition is to get to the Olympics. She’s now working towards her first dan, working her way to master level.

“Her other grandparents live in Japan, so she went out to stay with them and train in karate over there. They’re streets ahead of us, and her instructor said they were amazed when she got back.

“They’re very very strict; they get away with nothing. If it’s not perfect, they have to start again and don’t get to move on to the next movement.”

A dan is a ranking system used in martial arts to indicate a person’s level of skill.

Islay attends Ovingham First School, and her black belt is the latest in a series of sporting successes for the school in recent weeks.

David continued: “I’m very proud. I couldn’t believe it when she got her black belt. Her instructor is a fifth dan. She’ll be catching him up soon!

“She doesn’t look the part, she’s very graceful and ladylike, but she’s like lightning when she gets going. She’s not aggressive, she’s not pushy, she just does her stuff.