Athletes of all ages and skill levels are competing at Canada’s largest karate tournament this weekend – right here in Richmond.
The 2022 Canada Open Karate Championships is taking place at the Richmond Olympic Oval today and tomorrow, where athletes will be competing in kata (forms), kumite (sparring), kobudo (weapons kata) and para-karate.
More than 600 athletes, 100 coaches and 50 coaches have gathered for the fifth year of this international competition, including Olympian Hamoon Derafshipour.
Derafshipour represented the IOC Refugee Olympic Team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and finished in fifth place. He will be competing in the Senior Male Individual Kumite -75 kg and Open Weight categories.
Other athletes to watch out for include students from the Steveston Karate Club. Around 10 athletes will be competing, some for the very first time, in various categories this weekend.
One of the students, Haruki Mori, was previously on the national team and is vying to qualify for the Canada Winter Games. Mori, 16, is a student at Burnett secondary and will be competing both today and tomorrow.
Toshi Uchiage, spokesperson for Steveston Karate Club, said the championships are a “big event” in the Lower Mainland and a “good opportunity” for students to compete again after hiatuses due to COVID-19. And having it happen in their backyard is a bonus.
“It’s good that we have opportunities to compete in a high-level event without having to worry so much about the cost to get there,” he added.
For Karate BC, this weekend’s championships will also serve as a “warm-up” before they host the World Karate Federation Karate 1 Series A event at the Oval next April.
“(This event) will bring the top athletes in the world to compete. You may even see some Olympians compete at that event!” said Andreas Kuntze, president of Karate BC.
Tickets are available at the door, and the event is also being livestreamed on YouTube.