Karate kids earn spot on national team

Taneda Karate Dojo had three of four members reach the podium in during the Canada National championship in Toronto March 15 to 17.

JACKSON TRIBE of the Taneda Karate Dojo won gold during the national championships in Toronto.  During his debut in the championship last year

JACKSON TRIBE of the Taneda Karate Dojo won gold during the national championships in Toronto. During his debut in the championship last year

Taneda Karate Dojo had three of four members reach the podium during the Canada national championship in Toronto March 15 to 17.

Kelowna’s Avneet and Sukhresh Kaloty won silver and bronze, while Penticton’s Jackson Tribe and Will Wright won gold and placed fifth, respectively.

Athletes from across the country compete in the championship to earn a spot on the national team.

Mike Ditson, coach for Team B.C., said Tribe picked the “perfect place and time for a best performance.” Ditson was thrilled about it because Tribe had a tough year due to surgery last summer.

“It took him a while to get going,” said Ditson. “I think what really turned it around for him was he went to a tournament in February and he fought in a very tough division there. Every competitor was a member of the B.C. team going to nationals and he beat every one of them. I think that really helped build his confidence for the nationals.”

Tribe, a brown belt, said it felt good to perform as he did but admitted he was in shock while on the podium after defeating Ontario’s Max Verzunov.

“I had already fought the guy before and I’d won,” said Tribe, who breezed through his first three bouts before Verzunov. “We had a couple hours from our division to the final to prepare. I was watching him and he was doing a lot of different stuff. I knew it was going to be a lot harder of a fight. I just made sure I didn’t let him get any good points on me and kept it low.”

It’s the second trip to nationals for Tribe. He won a bronze medal his first time. Tribe, who will represent Canada at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas this weekend, said all the competitors had something different to watch for. Having experience from last year, Tribe knew what to expect from the level and intensity.

“I had to be able to step it up and bring it right away,” said Tribe, who is a national team member, but because he turns 16 in May, he is too old for the 14/15-year-old category. “It’s pretty exciting.

Tribe said, he called his opponent “Skyscraper” because of his height. With his opponent having that advantage, Tribe said he couldn’t get too close.

“I had to make sure I was fast and good with my timing, figuring out when to go,” he said.

Ditson said with each match, Tribe got better.

“It gives him a lot of confidence,” said Ditson.

When asked about his work ethic, Ditson said Tribe, 15, rises to the occasion.

“He loves competition,” said Ditson.

Tribe’s teammate Wright, who made his national championship debut, works just has hard in practice as he does in matches.

“He’s pretty fit and he works really hard in training,” said Ditson. “National championships is mainly for black belts. He has to put in a little extra work. In every match he performed very well. Will has a lot of skill. For him in his first year to get a top-five finish is pretty good.”

Wright, a blue belt, said the national championship was intense.

“Everyone is a good athlete out there,” said Wright, who was disappointed with how his final bout went as he was winning 1-0 lost when he couldn’t block a kick.

His first match was against the eventual silver medalist, who knocked Wright’s contact lens out within the first 10 seconds with a kick.

“It was a pretty intense match,” he said. “I tried to score a point in the last second, but I only scored one flag and you need two flags to get another point.”

Going into the championship, Wright said he just didn’t want to have a bad experience.

“I didn’t want to have any regrets,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting anything crazy because it was my first national championship. It would have been great if I was to medal.”

Sukhresh and Avneet are eligible for the North America Cup in Mexico at the end of April. Avneet is also eligible for the North America Cup as well at the junior Pan-Ams in Columbia in August.

Team B.C. finished with 17 gold medals, 12 silver and 20 bronze.