A dance duo from Epsom beat 40 other couples to win the British U21 Latin Dance Championship in Blackpool last week.

Leila Stewart, 19, and her italian partner Adelmo Mandia, 20, won the competition despite only dancing together for a year and a half compared to the competition average of four years.

Leila, who was raised in Epsom and went to Blenheim High School has lived and trained in Italy for the past year and a half.

She said the key to their success was a relaxed attitude.

She said: “A lot of other couples take the competition very seriously.

“I went to Blackpool to enjoy myself, so winning was just an added bonus.

“However to be champions against couples from all over the UK was absolutely extraordinary and we were really thrilled.

“We spent a lot of time in Italy and dance in an Italian style, which is very different to the English style, which makes it even more surprising that we won.”

Leila, who began dancing when she was just three, now trains alongside world-renowned dancers from China and Russia at the little-known dance centre on Cheam High Street.

She added: “Not many people realise that Cheam attracts dance royalty from all over the world.

“It’s really inspiring to be able to dance alongside some of these people and makes you aspire to greater things.”

The couple have now set their sights on international stardom and are hoping to reach the finals of the world championship next year.

Leila, who currently teaches and helps organise dance shows, hopes to turn professional when she turns 26.

“That is my ultimate goal. Dancing is my life - I just love it.”