Ben Haines kicked off what promises to be a fast and furious 2014 with strong displays in back-to-back competitions in the Middle East.
The 19-year-old, from Horndean, was in action in Egypt and then Dubai.
First up was the Luxor Open, as Haines reached the quarter-finals in the -68kg category.
He then went on to Dubai, where he won his first fight, before narrowly losing his second as his busy Great Britain schedule was ramped up a notch.
Haines started the tour with a strong performance against a rival from Ukraine.
He then narrowly missed out on a medal, losing on golden point sudden death to a Spanish player.
There was no time to rest as the squad flew on to Dubai for the Fuijairah Open.
Haines, who is permanently based in Manchester, at GB headquarters, delivered a strong performance to win 5-1 against his first opponent, from Kuwait.
His progress was then halted by a narrow 1-0 defeat in the second round.
Both competitions provided more valuable experience.
Haines said: ‘Going from one competition straight to another was a good experience.
‘I was only a whisker away from a medal in Egypt.
‘My first match was good. I was 4-0 down after the first round but after that I was fine. I had two good rounds and won it 9-6.
‘Then it was straight on to my next match against Spain.
‘I was a bit sleepy in the first round but got it back to 6-6.
‘It went to golden point – unfortunately my points were registering not high enough and his one registered.
‘It was so close, it could have gone either way.
‘In Dubai, my first match was against a player from Kuwait and I won that 5-1. It was quite comfortable.
‘I hit him with a head shot in the first couple of seconds.
‘The second match was against the same guy I fought in the French Open, in December, when he beat me 10-2.
‘It was 1-0 this time. It was so close – we both knew our game plans.’
While the Great Britain squad was in Egypt, tragedy struck with the death of Turkish athlete Seyithan Akbalik.
The 20-year-old suffered a suspected cardiac arrest after his competition.
Despite the tragedy, organisers decided the event could continue and every fight was dedicated to Akbalik’s memory.
Haines said: ‘It was a sad atmosphere around the competition.
‘We were called in for a meeting. They considered stopping it.
‘But one of the Turkish players carried on and she won her weight category. That was a special victory.’
Haines’ next competition could be the upcoming Dutch Open.
He’s hoping to build on his performances in the Middle East.
‘It’s a hard competition – with lots of matches,’ said Haines.
‘The standard is really high. It’s not like a world championship but it’s the next step down.
‘The target is the Europeans at the end of the year.
‘If I perform well, there could be a good opportunity to go to this.
‘I just have to get my head down and continue to work hard.’