It is dubbed the Olympics of Irish Dancing.

Thousands of dancers went head to head at the 44th World Irish Dancing Championships in front of an audience of 20,000.

Among the competitors was Hampshire’s David Bassett who was crowned the 29th best adult male Irish dancer in the world.

The 22-year-old from Fair Oak began dancing at 11 years old after watching Irish dancing megastar Michael Flatley on TV.

David, a member of the Blair McCarthy School of Irish Dancing in Eastleigh, has previously been placed in the top 20 at world championship level and ranked in second place at the Great Britain championships.

The creative writing student at the University of Winchester has toured Europe in Irish dancing shows including Celtic Legends, In Love With The Dance and Spirit Of Ireland and he has recently returned from Azerbaijan.

David spends hours practising his dances and has to keep fit and ensure his body is in top condition.

He said: “I always liked watching it on the TV – the shows like Lord Of The Dance. It just kind of took my fancy, I guess. I liked the idea of the rhythm.

“I think, unless you’re an Irish dancer, I don’t think people really understand. When I’m explaining it to people, I try to compare it to our version of the Olympics so they get some perspective on the size of it and how hard it is.

“It does take over a lot. I work my life around it. I have to request certain lectures so I can go to class in the evening. The same with my shifts at work – I have to base it all around dancing.

“There’s lots of stuff people don’t realise that we have to do to get core strength. There’s a lot of weights I do at the gym on my legs, a lot of abdominal work as well.

“I don’t get nervous about dancing. I get more nervous about the pressure of the outcome. You want it so much, and it’s out of your hands. All you can do is do your best.”

Around 5,000 dancers competed in solo, Ceili, modern figure choreography and dance drama categories all week at the World Irish Dance Championships in London.