KEIGHLEY karate club master Oliver Thornton is "excited" that his sport will be a part of the 2020 Olympics for the first time.

Bradford-born Thornton runs Soaring Eagle Karate Club, based in Dalton Mills, and hopes the martial art will become a regular fixture at what is the pinnacle of sporting competition.

He has just come off the back of a busy and successful year competing internationally in World Union of Karate-Do Federations events.

And while taking part in the Olympics himself is not on his radar, he would love to play his part in helping future generations towards the goal of competing in them.

Thornton said: "It is a great achievement for karate to finally be in the Olympics. It is exciting to be able to see the very best in the world compete on the same platform as other world class sports and have the opportunity to become household names.

"Hopefully it will inspire the next generation of karate athletes to push on.

"As much as I would like to be pushing for the Olympics, it isn’t for me. I am hopeful, though, that if karate remains in the Olympics to be able to push future generations of karate-ka towards this goal."

Having become involved in martial arts at the age of just seven, Thornton is now a fourth dan black belt in Wado Ryu Karate.

In 2017, the Sensei earned himself one silver and six bronze medals representing England. One of those bronzes was from the World Championships in Italy.

He said: "As a child I started with taekwondo and after gaining my black belt (at the age of 11), I went to karate with my father – after that I was hooked.

"In all, I have spent 23 years in martial arts and it has had many benefits on my life, including being more confident, giving me something positive to focus on and has helped me be a more sociable person.

"As a coach, being able to watch people develop is immensely rewarding at any level. When students of mine do well at competitions I feel proud that I have enabled them to do that, and glad that I can help them to improve further."

As well as running his own karate school, former Bingley Grammar School pupil Thornton teaches at Leeds Beckett University and is studying for a masters degree in sports science and physiology.

He said: "I am now studying for a masters, and have spent the last four years juggling university, my own training and running the club. But being that bit older, I have no need for the typical student life, allowing me to be able to focus on university and karate together.

"Having the support from members of the club has also been a massive help."

Soaring Eagles Karate Club are always welcoming new members of any age. For more information, contact Oliver on 07969-590862 or email