A TALENTED young Redditch judo ace has taken the first steps towards his "Olympic champion dream".

Roman O'Connell secured a British schools' crown in the sport at the weekend after winning both the English and British championships last year at the age of 10.

The St Bede's Catholic Middle School pupil, now 11, competes for Stewart Judo Academy based out of Leasowes High School in Halesowen.

The orange belt competes in the under 42kg minors category in British Judo Association competitions.

O'Connell is coached in the Black Country by judo champions Lucy Renshall and Max Stewart who are due to compete in this year's Olympics in Paris.

His father Scott said: "Roman has been doing judo from the age of five and from the first time he went on a judo mat we knew he would be special.

"He has such a hunger for the sport and trains three times a week as well as one night a week with his strength and conditioning coaches at Athena Performance in Redditch.

"I believe one day he will go to the Olympics and become an Olympic champion.

"This is his dream and we will support him as a family unconditionally to reach that dream."

Last year the youngster won the English Championships and the British Championships in London.

He also travelled to the Netherlands to triumph at the Arnhem Open Championships.

Then at the British Schools Championships in Sheffield last weekend, O'Connell was successful with another mature display.

He is travelling to the Northern Ireland Open on April 21 and then to Rimini, Italy, in June to represent England in an international training camp.

There is plenty of work and time left for O'Connell to achieve that Olympic dream but he has made a sterling start in the combat sport which originated in Japan.