A SALTCOATS woman has been selected to be Scotland’s only senior Kata athlete at the EKF Senior European Championships in Turkey later this year.

Aria Pascual, a third dan black belt, has represented Scotland previously at junior and under 21 level, but this is her first senior selection.

It is a goal she has worked 16 years to reach and Aria says she is “ecstatic” to see those dreams come to fruition.

“I am very proud of this achievement,” she told the Herald.

“National team selections are a strenuous process, and not every category is filled, so it really is a fight for your selection, making it an even greater achievement.

“For this competition, my goal would be to provide a medal-worthy performance. At this event, I hope to show on the international karate stage what I am capable of and begin my senior karate career with a bang.”

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Aria competed regularly on the national and global stage while a student at Ardrossan Academy.

She was reigning Scottish, British and European champion from 2012 to 2016 and world bronze medallist in 2014, and has competed at events in Paris, Prague and Japan.

But Aria’s love for the sport goes all the way back to her time attending Tiger Cubs Karate while a pupil at Dykesmains Primary School.

“Karate for me teaches respect, discipline, continuous self-improvement, and perseverance in the face of adversity,” she continued

“Based on these values, the teachings of karate can be transferable to any aspect of life. Karate has been so influential for making me who I am today.”

It has taken a lot of hard work to get where she is today, and Aria says she’s grateful to many people who have helped along the way.

She added: “I would like to thank my family, especially my mum, for the continued support for my goals and aspirations throughout the years, even when others doubted me, or I doubted myself.

“Also my karate coach Paul Giannandrea, the University of Stirling sports team, Michelle Collins from BetterU gym, Pat Breen, and my friends at Senjokai Karate Club.

“I would also like to thank North Ayrshire Council and everyone who has supported me and continues to support me.”

If any local businesses would like to sponsor Aria, they can contact her at: ariapascual2012gmail.com.