Three Chilliwack girls are world champions.
Eighteen year old Kyra Miller, 15 year old Katelyn Wiebe and 14 year old Kristina Pham travelled to Hamilton in mid-November for the World Karate Organization (WKO) Championships.
All three train at Chilliwack Central Karate Club.
Wiebe placed first in kumite (sparring) and kata (forms) and second in kobudo (weapons).
Pham scored silver in kata, kumite and kobudo.
Miller bagged bronze in sparring and the trio joined forces to earn another silver in team kata.
“We’ve competed against hard competition before, but this was against top people in the world and it was a whole different experience,” Miller said.
“The focus and sharpness and power, all of them were really disciplined,” Pham added.
The field was packed with athletes from all over the planet — Russia, Sweden, the Ukraine and Pakistan among others. The gym was packed with athletes, coaches and spectators creating an electric atmosphere.
“There were a lot of people from New Zealand, and it was really cool getting to meet all these people from different countries,” Wiebe said. “There were a few people I couldn’t understand, but it was still really cool.”
“Everyone wanted to talk to you and get to know you and everyone was so friendly,” Miller said. “At some tournaments the other people won’t even look at you because they take it so seriously.”
“This one was different.”
The tournament was originally supposed to be held in Venice, Italy. Hamilton compared to the ‘City of Canals’ is a little meh, but Pham was able to sneak away to nearby Niagara Falls on a touristy adventure.
“I haven’t been to a big monumentish thing like that before,” the teenager said. “It was really nice standing next to it.”
The rest of their time was split between the hotel and gym. Hotel cleaning staff may still be experiencing post traumatic stress from their stay.
“We took a before-and-after photo of our room and it literally looked like a bomb went off,” Miller said. “My dad claimed a little corner and told us to stay out of it and the rest of the room, our stuff was everywhere!”
The Chilliwack three put in a ton of work to get to Hamilton, wading through a rigorous qualifying process with Team B.C.
Competing at too many tournaments to remember over the last two years, the girls needed to win, win and win some more.
Each gold medal was worth five points. Silver got them three, bronze got them one and by being one of the top-two point getters in their respective age/skill divisions they punched their tickets to Hamilton.
A few days before the girls flew out, Miller came down with a nasty case of tonsilitis — an eight or nine on the 1-10 misery scale. But after all the work she put in to qualifying, there was no way she was staying home.
“The day before we left I felt awful and just wanted to sleep, but I was going no matter what,” she laughed. “The next day I took some Penicillin and a bunch of Motrin and I felt great!”
“She was a little drowsy, and maybe a little grumpy too,” Wiebe laughed.
Miller is happy she made the trip and grateful for the experience. All three of them are looking forward to wherever karate takes them next.
“Getting to travel with two people I’m so close to and getting to meet all those new people was really special,” Weibe said. “I’d definitely like to do more of this.”
“This was such a big event and it was hard performing in front of so many people, but I think all three of us have gotten so much better at doing that,” Miller said. “Karate has helped me be so much more confident in everything I do and that’s what will stick with me from this experience.”