Karate duo medal in Ire­land

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - SEAN ROONEY [email protected]­hat­news.com Twit­ter: MHNRooney

Mak­ing it to Ire­land was a feat in it­self, so when Dat Le and Kade Kleinknecht came back from the World Karate Com­mis­sion’s World Cham­pi­onships with medals, that was just a bonus.

Le, 19 and Kleinknecht, 17, com­peted at the event last month and brought home plenty more than hard­ware, how­ever.

“Other than a phys­i­cal medal I brought back a lot of knowl­edge,” said Le, who was sec­ond in Chi­nese style forms in his 18-and-over age divi­sion. “There were a cou­ple sem­i­nars, some cur­rent world champs, some old for­mer world champs, they threw a cou­ple sem­i­nars, some things on your foot­work, how to read your op­po­nent.

“It was just the small things. Learn­ing this style of fight­ing was such a dif­fer­ent thing... they teach the next gen­er­a­tion.”

Kleinknecht took sil­ver in 15-17-year-old Chi­nese forms and added a bronze in the un­der-75 kilo­gram spar­ring divi­sion.

“Just know­ing that we com­peted at that level, it re­ally boosted our con­fi­dence,” he said. “We know what we have to work on for the next one.”

They both seem pretty cer­tain there will be a next one, and soon. The 2019 WKC worlds are in Ni­a­gara Falls, N.Y. Though the road to qual­i­fy­ing re­quires do­ing well at provin­cials and then na­tion­als, they’d like to see more fel­low ath­letes from their home dojo, Blue Dragon Martial Arts in down­town Medicine Hat, get there.

Sheri­dan Mergel also qual­i­fied to go to Ire­land but didn’t make the trip this time — she’d been to worlds once al­ready. Le was never in doubt as to whether he’d at­tend while Kleinknecht took a bit longer be­fore de­cid­ing the rare op­por­tu­nity was worth it. Was it what he ex­pected? “More,” he said. “It’s so dif­fer­ent from any karate tour­na­ment we’ve ever done.”

Per­haps the most im­pres­sive part of the com­pe­ti­tion was the set­ting. Aside from the fact it was in Dublin, a grand ball­room hosted the eight rings ac­cord­ing to Le and the open­ing cer­e­monies were mem­o­rable.

Get­ting to com­pete against and learn from martial artists from around the world was im­por­tant, too.

“I had no idea what to ex­pect,” said Kleinknecht. “When I first got in the ring it was crazy hard. But a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED

Dat Le (left) and Kade Kleinknecht pose with a Cana­dian flag in Dublin, Ire­land last month, where they com­peted at WKC World Cham­pi­onships.

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