An eight-year-old Larne girl has proven that she can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee by becoming both a karate and Irish dancing champion.
Local girl Amy McCambridge so impressed judges with her moves that she has clinched top prizes in both disciplines.
After taking up Irish dancing at the tender age of three and karate at five, Amy’s mum Ashleigh Stewart says that her girl has the dedication and talent to go all the way.
She told the Times: “Amy is a member of Royal Tara Irish Dancing Academy and Larne Karate Club.
“The dancing started when she went to her childminder, whose grand-daughter was a dancer.
“Amy took an interest through her, and from her first class she was able to do the Irish dance moves. She was keeping up even though she was only three years old!
“We wanted her to learn karate for self-defence. One of her friends’ dads did karate and was a Sensei, and after her older brother Mark started to do it she was nosy and wanted to know all about it.”
Success has come quickly to the young martial arts and dance star, who dedicates four nights a week to her two passions. Her mother revealed: “In Irish dancing, Amy won the Ulster Championships and got her ‘B’ award doing a reel.
“She then progressed to Intermediate, and won that award. This qualified her for the all-Ireland championships in June, and she won the Intermediate group there.
“She was also second in the Preliminary All-Ireland Championship, and fourth in the Open Championship. She has also won a lot of solo dances.”
Amy’s dancing talent is matched only by her martial arts prowess.
Her mum explained: “She won the Carlow International Karate Competition in Dublin for her age group.
“She has also won the award of RD International champion, the Ulster karate competition, and took two golds in the Ulster Karate Association’s summer competition.
“She hadn’t been able to compete before the summer competition as she had broken her thumb, and when she took part she was only two weeks out of her cast, so she was pleased with that!”
While the disciplines are very different, Ashleigh says that her daughter enjoys the contrast between the two. She added: “Both require dedication and discipline.
“She goes to karate for two hours a night on Monday and Wednesday, and to dancing for an hour-and-a-half each night on Tuesday and Thursday. She enjoys it-I’m not a pushy parent and don’t force her. She wants to do it herself. I don’t like to stress her out.
“She enjoys getting dressed up for dancing more than karate, where you just put your hair up-she is a super girly girl!
“We have the motto ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ on her dance kit bag, as she really does do both.”
Amy is a pupil at St MacNissi’s Primary School, where she has had perfect attendance for four years. So dedicated is she to dancing that she has worn out several pairs of school shoes during regular practise sessions with her friends in the playground.
Ashleigh says that Amy has been inspired by the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, as well as the Giro d’Italia.
She revealed: “It annoys her when people say that dancing is a hobby not a sport-she says, ‘have you seen the dedication I put into that?!’ We are going to see Riverdance this Saturday-even our spare time is taken up with dancing!”
“We’re very proud of her-she never fails. We always said we didn’t care if she came home with a medal or a cup, we just want her to enjoy herself.”