The world cham­pi­onship kicks off

More than 2,000 take part from around globe

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - Blair ding­wall

More than 2,000 peo­ple from across the globe flocked to Dundee yes­ter­day as Scot­land’s big­gest karate event got un­der way.

Ath­letes, coaches and spec­ta­tors from as far afield as Brazil, Ar­gentina, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Egypt and the US came to the city’s ice arena for the first day of the World Union of Karate-Do Fed­er­a­tions (WUKF) World Championships.

The event runs un­til Sun­day, wel­com­ing 2,280 com­peti­tors of all ages and 230 coaches. The trans­formed ice rink was full of shouts and cheers as ath­letes went head-to-head in com­bat in the likes of kata, ku­mite and team events.

Dundee’s Roy O’Kane, pres­i­dent of host club Kanzen Karate, said the com­pe­ti­tion had drawn the “best karate ath­letes in the world”.

He added: “We have over 40 coun­tries here and 110 ref­er­ees in the spirit of in­ter­na­tional karate com­pe­ti­tion.

“This is one of the top events on the karate cal­en­dar. We have top ath­letes try­ing to be­come cham­pi­ons. The in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence is very di­verse. Peo­ple are here mix­ing together, mak­ing friend­ships, hav­ing a good time and en­joy­ing their karate.

He said the economies of Dundee and An­gus would be boosted to the tune of “mil­lions of pounds” by the championships.

“The bars are full, the ho­tels are full, we have peo­ple stay­ing in St An­drews,

Perth and An­gus so there is over­spill into those ar­eas,” Mr O’Kane said.

Hon­orary pres­i­dent of the WUKF, and pres­i­dent of the Brazil­ian Con­fed­er­a­tion of Karate In­ter­esti­los (CBKI), Os­valdo Mes­sia Oliv­e­ria said: “(It is) one of the best events of the world here in Dundee. We are very happy to be here. We are here not for medals, but to get friend­ships, to get friends.”

Kata com­peti­tor Pamela Wollf, 65, came from Chicago with more than 100 mar­tial artists from the Am­a­teur Ath­letic Union (AAU) in the US.

The at­tor­ney said it was a “won­der­ful” feel­ing to rep­re­sent her coun­try. She added: “I’ve never com­peted in­ter­na­tion­ally be­fore. The peo­ple are re­ally friendly.”

Lutha Sin­gata, 20, and Linde Del­port, 23, came from Gra­ham­stown, South Africa, with the United Sho­tokan-Ryu.

Mr Sin­gata said: “We’ve come here not just for the medals, but for the ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s a beau­ti­ful coun­try, it’s a beau­ti­ful town.”

Mr Del­port said: “Dundee is quite im­pres­sive, it’s a re­ally cool town.” De­clan Ga­han and Peter Roche, of the Pat Rocket Mar­tial Arts club, trav­elled from Water­ford in Ire­land as part of a 25-strong group to watch their chil­dren take part.

Mr Roche, 49, said: “It is a huge event. For so many kids to com­pete for their coun­try, it’s won­der­ful. Mr Ga­han, 45, said: “There’s clubs from all over Ire­land here.”

Ath­lete and in­struc­tor Garry Lu­cas, 53, came from Liver­pool with daugh­ters Han­nah, 16, and Mia, 14. Garry, of Shukokai Karate Union (SKU) said: “I started karate around about 12 years ago. It’s a fam­ily thing. I was im­pressed with the city.”

Coach and com­peti­tor Ty­rone Jef­fers of the Caribbean Karate Fed­er­a­tion in East Lon­don trav­elled north with nine stu­dents. He said: “It’s a great venue. This is a very big event.

“The Caribbean Karate Fed­er­a­tion is a great squad. “We’ve got some great chil­dren from seven years up­wards. “At an event like this, it’s bril­liant.” The cham­pi­onship’s of­fi­cial open­ing cer­e­mony will be held tonight.

We have over 40 coun­tries here,more than 2,200 par­tic­i­pants, 110 ref­er­ees and 230 coaches from all over. ROY O’KANE

Pic­tures: Steve Mac­Dougall.

Michele Schir­inzi of UKS Italy, top, and, above, smil­ing medal win­ners. Left, Amaya Sch­nei­der, 14, and Maile Nacu, 13, both from the US, in ac­tion.

Dundee’s ice arena has been trans­formed for the world championships and, above, more ac­tion from the con­test.

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