JUSTIN Thomas can’t believe he’s won The Shuttle’s Sports Personality of the Year.
The Kidderminster-based fourth dan karate master topped the poll on our website with 66 per cent.
In the end it was a comfortable victory, but only after a late surge of votes saw off the challenge of Bewdley Olympic sailor Alison Young, who completed the competition in second place with 30 per cent.
Paralympic swimming star and World Championships gold medallist Claire Cashmore, triathlete Jacqui Phillips and Olympic archer Naomi Folkard all shared the rest of the votes.
Overall the search for our Sports Personality of the Year was a big success with more than 8,000 votes in a two-week period.
Thomas believes his success was down to the goodwill he has generated raising money for children’s charities.
Over the last ten years he and Young Glove Karate Club have made more than £33,000 for good causes.
He said: “I can’t believe I have won the competition, I did not realise I had been nominated but there were one or two members of the club who said they had tried.
“The charity fundraising makes a different and people remember you because of that.”
Young Gloves raised more than £5,000 last year when 300 students attempted the world’s biggest kata demonstration, but before their attempt could be ratified by The Guiness Book of Records they were pipped to it by a group in India.
Thomas added: “It was a great attempt by our members but unfortunately the attempt in India just beat us to it.
“If we had said the most juniors performing a kata we would have set a new world record.”
Thomas has trained himself for more than 30 years and helped countless students achieve black belt status.
At the end of last year, the Wyre Forest martial artist received his fourth black belt and a coaching award which means he can teach anywhere in the UK.
He founded Young Gloves a decade ago to teach traditional karate and has seen the club branch out to Kidderminster, Stourport, Cookley and Stourbridge, with 350 students.
He added: “Winning the vote was a boost to the ego but it was great to see everyone involved.”