The Karate Duo: Jamal & Tom
Jamaal Otto is 21 and is the British Karate champion, the English Karate champion and University Karate Championships medallist. He is currently studying International Relations.
I was born in Birmingham but I grew up in London. Karate was a huge part of my life from an early age, as well my dad is Wayne Otto OBE and he was nine times karate world champion.
Growing up, he was my idol and I wanted to be just like him! He taught me bits of karate so when I took it up at seven I had a head start, which meant I took part in my first competition when I was eight. I still remember how nervous I was and took a silver medal – memories like this never leave you!
I wanted to continue my karate but to have an open mind when it came to my careers, I studied Economics, English, Psychology and PE for A levels. When I was thinking about universities, a few of my friends from the karate circuit recommended Coventry to me, as they were already studying here.
Coventry was actually my insurance choice but now I'm in my third year studying International Relations, I'm really glad I came here. I love the people I have met from all different backgrounds and I love the city too because everything you need is on your doorstep - it's so different to London.
In my first year at Coventry I applied for a Sport Scholarship and was successful. It has made such a difference to me as I get financial help and help with my sports costs like physiotherapy.
I would advise all young people to take up martial arts as it helps you to be focused - you set a goal and go for it! You can take this mentality into all areas of your life and it definitely helps me when it comes to studying.
My dream is to compete in the Olympics and to win a medal, as I'll be in my prime in 2020. To qualify I'll need to be ranked in the top eight fighters and I'm currently 39 so it’s definitely achievable and I'm feeling confident. I've set my goal and I'm going for it!
Tom Lomas is a pupil at Hearsall Community Primary School and he has dreams to study at Coventry University.
It was amazing to meet Jamaal and I want to be like him. I took a silver medal in the British Jiu Jitsu championships and Bronze in the European championships so I'm on my way. Martial Arts helps me to feel in control and focused, so Jamaal is right and he has really inspired me.
From now on I'm going to eat chicken because that's what he does to help him stay fit! I would like to go to university, like Jamaal and I would apply for a Sport Scholarship at Coventry just like him!