Jetting out to the World Championships in Chile over the weekend, kid Karate star Matthew Pratt admits he is living the dream.
The 15-year-old, who is one of the top elite athletes at South Road club Sport Karate East (SKE), is set to represent Scotland for the first time at the WKF World Karate Championships in Santiago.
In doing so on Wednesday, Pratt will become the first Dundonian to turn out for the nation in over 25 years – and will be the second-youngest member of the squad.
It has been a long road to reach this point for 6ft 3in Morgan Academy pupil, and one he might not have been able to travel without the help out his coaches, his family and his school.
And that was something the humble and impressive Pratt was keen to tell the Tele.
“It’ll be that moment when I step onto the mat and I can see that flag on my top and that just means the world to me,” he said.
“I’ve wanted to fight for Scotland since I was a wee boy so it’ll be a proud moment for me and my family as well. Everything is live streamed online so they’ll be watching me back in Dundee.
“Richard Mallinson and the rest of the team here have been great. My training partner Kyle McLean has helped me get better and better all the time.
“Bob Davidson, another instructor, trains me a lot and pushes me on. If you’re maybe tired, because there are days when it is tough, they’ll cheer you on and make you go.
“It’s a really supportive place around here.
“The school is really supportive with me and the former pupils group gave me a bit of money for the tournament.
“They’re really supportive with all the karate stuff and sponsor me.
“If I’m doing well in school, they see it as getting me out there and gaining experience for the ‘real world’.
“School’s important but getting those skills of being able to travel by yourself and talk to people is useful, too. Balancing both isn’t difficult as long as I can manage my time well.
“It’s good coming here because it allows me to switch off and focus on something else, not just my exams.
“What I really want to do, obviously, is win but, right now, it’s more the learning experience than anything else.
“It’s about getting out there and believing in myself. Everyone else believes in me, my mum and dad believe in me and, if I do that, I’ve got a really good chance of getting a medal.”
With trips to the likes of Hungary and Ireland already under his belt with Scotland, Pratt is used to travelling. However, the 16-hour trip via London to Chile was a special one.
He added: “I’m very excited but a bit nervous. It’s a good opportunity representing your country and to see what I can do on such a big stage.
“I’ve not been on a long flight like that before. We went from Glasgow to London and then onto Chile, it’s non-stop for about 15 or 16 hours.”
Thankfully, he wasn’t without reading material on the flights with coach Mallinson preparing two letters for Pratt to read, one in transit and one before his first contest.
Mallinson said: “It’s really quite emotional for coaches that have been there themselves to see him coming through. I know how it feels and I wanted to put pen to paper for him.”