A teenager who took up karate to overcome bullying is flying out to the Caribbean to compete in an international competition.

Former Ramsey Academy pupil Sholanda Barker, 17, will represent England in the International Karate Daigaku World Cup.

The contest takes place in Barbados from August 16 to 19.

Sholanda, who has just finished her first year at Colchester Sixth Form College, will take part in kata, which will see her perform a specified series of moves, and kumite, which involves sparring with another competitor.

The Halstead teenager, who is part of the Colchester Shotokan Karate club, started training when she was just six years old after being bullied.

She was encouraged by stepdad David Shepherd, who studied martial arts at the Colchester club.

Sholanda, who also works as a lifeguard, said: “My confidence had dropped to the point that I didn’t want to attend school.

“The people I would like to thank for my journey in karate would be my stepdad sensei David Shepherd who originally introduced and got me interested in karate, my mum for paying for my lessons in supporting me throughout everything I do and, of course, my instructors for teaching and developing everything I know today.”

The world cup takes place every three years and is hosted by different countries.

More than 300 representatives from 22 countries are expected to take part.

Sholanda was named International Karate Daigaku student of the month in May.

Proud mum Fiona Shepherd said: “We have supported her throughout her karate journey and she now even helps teach the martial at the Earls Colne Recreation Centre.

“Sholanda was also sponsored by her karate club to go on this trip and was selected out of sudents from across the world to be student of the month for May.”