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Co Armagh warrior Jesse-Jane stuns Chinese talent judges

Jesse-Jane McParland shows some of her skills
Jesse-Jane McParland shows some of her skills
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A 13-year-old martial arts sensation from Co Armagh touched the hearts of talent show judges in China after a stunning display inspired by her idol Jackie Chan.

Jesse Jane McParland - known as JJ - also shared the quarter-final stage of World's Got Talent with her father Gary (40) and revealed how an accident that left him in a wheelchair had shattered her confidence.

The aspiring action hero already has millions of fans around the world, having reached the final of Britain's Got Talent in 2015 and appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show in the US.

Her father was injured in June 2017, when he fell 22ft working as a builder. He broke three bones in his back, his pelvis, ribs and a leg.

Last month, Mr McParland watched proudly from the stage in the Hunan province of China as his daughter showed off her lightning-fast skills. "I love Jackie Chan. It's just so powerful and normally every girl is judged to be a princess," she told the judges.

"Like whenever they grow up they have to wear make up, they have to put on glitter - but not every girl dreams of being a princess so girls are powerful too, we're not all just glitter and glam."

She added: "I would love to be in a movie with Jackie Chan and for him to train me but also that I will be a warrior and grow up to protect my dad, because at the moment he is in a wheelchair and it's very sad."

Joining his daughter, Mr McParland said: "I'm so proud of you Jane, amazing as usual. I love you loads."

JJ told the judges that losing the chance to train with her father had been a huge setback.

"He was always at my training sessions, he would always teach me, he was at every competition and every tournament," she said.

"Whenever he fell I just lost all confidence, I didn't want to do martial arts anymore.

"I didn't want to do anything. He said to me, 'If you continue your dreams (because he knew how much it meant to me) that one day I will walk again'.

"At the moment he can walk a little bit with crutches and he has promised me that he will walk without assistance one day."

One judge commented: "I'm so touched by the story. Dad, you must be so proud of your daughter. She did beautifully today."

JJ is now back in China with her father, taking part in the competition's semi-final.

At home, her equally proud mum Sinead (41) said it had been a tough journey for the family.

"Gary's accident had a big impact on JJ at the time. He would have done training with her a lot but then he just had to stop," she said.

Having started training in martial arts at the age of three, JJ also trains in gymnastics and trampolining. "We always thought she would grow out of martial arts as she got older," her mum said.

"She did have a blip when Gary fell, she lost all her confidence," said Mrs McParland.

"She didn't know how she could go on when Gary needed so much medical attention and was so sick."

Help eventually came from Armagh boxer Sean Duffy, who helped JJ with padwork at his gym as well as from kickboxing coach Davy Moore.

"That just bolstered her confidence when she realised she could be hitting pads again," her mum said.

"She's loving China, the World's Got Talent team have just been incredible to them, they can't do enough for them.

"JJ goes to St Catherine's College in Armagh and still uploads her homework on Google when she's away, she's a good wee girl."

Belfast Telegraph


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