Nanaimo can claim a karate world champion.
Amelia Cooper of Shima Karate School won gold in the Karate-do Goju-kai Global Championships in Richmond at the beginning of this month.
Cooper was a winner in sparring in her 14-15-year-old division, defeating a six-foot-tall opponent from Australia in the final. The match ended with a 19-16 score, which is remarkably high.
“It was by far the most exciting match I’ve ever seen,” said Kurt Nordli, Shima sensei and tournament director at the world championships.
Cooper fell behind 6-0 early, causing her to change her strategy and try for higher-scoring kicks. She connected with a hook kick to make it 6-3.
“From then on they went back and forth two or three points at a time getting the edge until it was 19-16 and everyone was just going crazy,” Nordli said.
Cooper protected her lead over the final seconds and became a world champion.
“I was exhausted, I was elated, I was excited and I was just so happy that I got to represent my dojo and my country,” she said.
Over the course of the tournament she faced opponents from all over the world, places like South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, England, Brazil and Canada. The styles differed a little bit and there was some unpredictability.
“It was definitely one of the most intense tournaments I’ve ever competed in. It was quite intimidating at first, seeing all the countries in their groups,” Cooper said.
But adrenaline and support from the Shima family and coaches helped her through.
“Here at Shima Karate we learn to never give up, especially in a match,” Cooper said.
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Nordli was busy with organizational duties and as tournament director, couldn’t even applaud his students’ points, but he was proud and energized by the experience of worlds.
“It was great for the kids,” the sensei said. “They got to meet people that they would never meet. Just the energy in the building throughout the event was fun to be a part of.”
Other Shima results saw Bernadette Alvarez take silver in women’s sparring and Sarah Crago earn silver in 12-13-year-old girls’ sparring. Bronze medallists included Damon Baerg, Ayanna Morneau, Kyra Gillette, Corin Cooper, Hanxi MacIlquham, Zahnil Lal, Ethan Robertson, Evan Milne, Juliet Loken, Azia Deal and Morgan Scarisbrick.