Meet the Sheffield girl, 8, with Down's Syndrome who has a BLACK BELT in MMA

An inspiring eight-year-old has become the youngest member of her family to receive a first degree black belt in Mixed Martial Arts.

Monday, 4th December 2017, 11:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 7:09 am
Eva Hardy - Tom Maddick

Eva Hardy who has Down’s Syndrome, was presented with the honour at the weekend during the Black Belt Extravaganza, held at the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield.

Her mum Lisa said: “This is a massive achievement for Eva and it would be good to celebrate the achievements of children with special needs, to show that they are capable of joining in and to celebrate their success.

“A lot of children don’t get that representation and the more encouragement, support and acceptance for them, the better.”

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Eva, her mum and her older sister Maria, have been training together at Castle Martial Arts in Sheffield since 2013.

Lisa and Maria both received their first degree black belts in 2016.

Lisa, of Watermeade, Eckington, told The Star: “Eva loves training and gives it her all each time she goes.

“The training has shown her discipline, respect for herself and others, as well as building up her muscle tone.

“She’s the type of girl that won’t give up, she just keeps going and going and always perseveres.”

She added: “Eva uses Makaton sign language, as well as speaking, as the delays in her speech mean that she cannot always voice what she means.”

Eva now hopes to train towards getting her second degree black belt.

The family says that being a part of Castle Martial Arts is like ‘one big family’.

James Sheehan, who is the club’s senior chief instructor said: “I don’t know if I’ve seen anything more exceptional than Eva, her character and her strength are just so inspirational.

He added: “She absolutely lifts the room with her smile and her positivity.”

Eva, who attends mainstream school in Eckington, Derbyshire, has lots of friends who are also ‘really proud and supportive’ of her incredible accomplishment.

And there are no signs of Eva stopping.

She has just begun learning to swim and says that she hopes to become a dentist in the future.