A karate champion who became a black belt at the age of 12 has graduated from university - and now has his sights set on the Olympics.
Jordan Szafranek, 22, the sport’s British Senior Champion, was awarded ‘Dual Career Athlete’ status at Edinburgh Napier which allowed him to combine his studies with competing all over the world.
Yesterday he reached the end of his academic journey, joining classmates at the Usher Hall to be awarded his BSc (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Science.
However, the martial arts expert, from Renfrew, will quickly be shifting his focus to Tokyo 2020, where karate has been added to the Olympic programme.
Jordan said: “I will be continuing my training for Olympic qualifying events, with the aim of earning my place as a Great Britain representative at the final qualifying event in Paris next May, where the top three athletes gain automatic qualification for the Games.”
A career in karate was a natural progression for former Renfrew High School pupil Jordan, who had been fascinated by the world of sport since the age of four.
His time as a karateka has seen him crowned British and National Champion on 12 separate occasions, he has medalled in tournaments in 12 different countries and represented the Scotland national team at major championships 14 times.
Studying at Edinburgh Napier added performance analysis to his skillset, and saw him get financial support to attend competitions. ‘Dual Career Athlete’ status in particular, gave him flexibility with the timing of academic assessments that clashed with major tournaments.
Jordan said: “My time at the university has been a joyous and memorable one.
“I have enjoyed excellent access to the impressive facilities at Edinburgh Napier’s ENGAGE centre, and I have been able to combine performing at the highest level within my sport with obtaining the scientific knowledge to pursue a career in sports performance analysis.”
Pete Laird, the university’s programme leader in sport, exercise and health science, said: “We’re all absolutely delighted at Jordan’s success.
“We have all seen how hard he works at both his sport and his academics, completing his studies whilst travelling the world for his sport. His recent success in becoming the British Senior Champion is a great achievement for an athlete we all believe in.”