THE coronavirus pandemic could not stop two dedicated Wee County girls from earning their black belts in Karate earlier this month.

Alloa's Oonagh McMaster and Alva's Freya Rowe have now become the first female members of Alloa and Stirling Karate Club to achieve their 1st DAN black belts.

As if that was not impressive enough, they both did this despite having to sit the gruelling karate examinations from home, via Zoom, on July 6.

Normally, examinations take place in a dojo through in Dunfermline.

And while the exams are a daunting experience for anyone who undertakes them, Oonagh and Freya clearly handled the added pressure taking the tests via video-link like pros.

Martin McGookin, the girls' karate instructor, was full of praise for the pair, and spoke highly of their incredible achievement.

He said: "Congratulations.

"To successfully pass during these challenging times of lockdown is a particular impressive achievement.

"Everyone at the club is very proud."

Since the lockdown began on March 23, Martin has worked hard to ensure his students could continue to train from home – rather than from their usual venue of Lornshill Academy.

Many of the students had gradings scheduled ahead of lockdown, and although they were cancelled, it was important to keep them prepared for when they were rescheduled later in the year.

So, all classes were carried out using video-conferencing app Zoom over the past few months - and that will likely continue for now, until lockdown measures in Scotland are eased further.

Despite the change, the Advertiser was told club members, families and students have found home-based karate sessions a welcome break from the stress of the pandemic.

They have also given both junior and senior students something to focus on during the long hours stuck at home.