AN Inverclyde karate kid has made her mark on the martial arts stage by becoming one of the youngest-ever members at her club to achieve a black belt.

Gourock girl Ruby McNicol accomplished the impressive feat last month, aged just nine, after almost three years of tough training.

Under the tutelage of veteran instructor, David Gillies, the St Ninian's Primary pupil has rapidly progressed through the ranks of the discipline - and now has her eyes set on further success.

Ruby, who is in P5, told the Telegraph: "I train twice a week and my favourite part is kumite [sparring].

"I had to study hard for my grading. We had to do two kumites, one was freestyle, and we had to do every move that we've learned, as well as two katas.

"I was very nervous.

Greenock Telegraph: Ruby McNicolRuby McNicol (Image: Gourock Karate Club)

"It was brown and double white belt before that and I was waiting for six months to get my black belt.

"I'm hoping to get my second dan but that's two years of training. I'll try!"

Ruby was presented with her new belt last week following the assessment in Cowdenbeath - and she said she was 'very happy and crying' when she learned that she had passed.

Karate runs in the family with big sister Charli, now 21, having achieved her black belt aged 15 and mum, Jane, also taken up the sport previously.

Greenock Telegraph: Ruby McNicolRuby McNicol (Image: George Munro)

Dad David said: "She always just copied her big sister, who was into football and karate, so we didn't have to encourage Ruby to get into it.

"Her mum wanted to get her into dancing at first but she didn't really like it.

"We didn't realise the pressure that was on her. When we were going up in the car she wasn't her normal self the whole way up, then a couple of times she had some tears. She was just nervous and overthinking it.

"It was a closed grading, we couldn't see the class, so we had to go out and wait for an hour or so. When we went in she was all big smiles and tears.

"David, the coach, was pushing her on a wee bit seeing if she could do it and it was a good shout."

He added: "It's a hard workout and it's brought Ruby's confidence on a lot.

"We appreciate what David has done for Ruby, he's brought her on and he's been doing it for 40 years now - it's a shift!"

Instructor David said Ruby has 'a focus and concentration well beyond her years' and added that 'it’s been a pleasure teaching her'.

Gourock Karate Club is held in The Coppermine Community Centre, Kirn Drive in Gourock on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and anyone interested in joining can check our their Facebook page for more information.