A TEENAGER who refuses to let a blood condition rule his life has won a place in a national sports team.

Richard Lawson, 14, from Burnopfield, near Stanley, County Durham, is a haemophiliac, meaning any form of hard physical contact can lead to internal bleeding.

But the brave youngster - a former Northern Echo Local Heroes Special Achievement award-winner - has overcome the dangers to become one of the most promising in-line hockey players in the UK.

His status was confirmed this week when he was selected for Great Britain in the World Youth Inline Hockey Championships in Canada. The sport is similar to ice hockey, but played using in-line skates.

He said: "I was absolutely over the moon when they told me I had been selected."

Haemophilia only affects males and normally prevents a sufferer from taking part in any contact sport.

Every time Richard sustains an injury - that to other people would be a minor irritation - he must undergo injections to make his blood clot.

"If I do get an injury, I need treatment within two hours," he said.

He will be netminder for the Great Britain 14s and under team, for two tournaments in July - the World Championships in Kitchener, Canada, followed by the North American Roller Hockey Championships in Florida, US. At home, he plays for Lochside in-line hockey club in Newcastle, represents the region and plays for Sunderland Ice Hockey Club.

Both sports may be tough, but Richard can give as good as he gets. He is a black belt in Taisudo, better known as kickboxing, and is only the third haemophiliac in the world to obtain a black belt in any martial art.

He is also the only person to have won the Haemophilia Society Outstanding Achievement in Sport twice, once for his Taisudo and the other for his hockey.

"Some people with haemophilia sit in the house and are afraid to do anything in case they get injured," he said. "I believe you should get out, enjoy life and do whatever you can.