Last week, 15-year-old Bradford resident Olivia Deane competed in the Junior Pan American Games in Guayaquil, Ecuador representing Canada’s junior national karate team and winning gold in her division.
After an intense four days of competition, Deane is back in Canada and her coaches and teammates from Bradford’s Jennings School of Karate couldn’t be more proud.
There were 79 competitors from 22 different countries. Team Canada’s female kumite team earned six medals in total, with Deane being one of the two gold medal recipients.
“It was really good, different than I expected,” said Deane about her experience.
She beat out Ecuador, U.S.A, El Salvador and Brazil to make it to the finals against Venezuela.
She said her toughest match was against Brazil as it was a judge’s call on who the winner was.
“My semi final match was tied, so when it’s a tie, the judges decide who is going to win,” she explained.
Deane’s mother, Ramona, says it was an intense week for her daughter, especially the first few days.
“I wasn’t allowed to talk to her for the first couple days because she was in the zone and focused, you didn’t want to ask too many questions,” she said.
To destress, Deane would hang out in her hotel room, listen to music and go to bed early. There was mandatory training every day and team dinners at night, but Deane said she didn’t spend too much time socializing, trying to mentally prepare for her competitions.
“I don’t want to be nervous in the ring, because I feel like that’s when I make mistakes, so I have to clear my mind so I can just do it,” she said.
And her focus paid off, standing on the podium to accept her medal was an exciting moment for Deane and her parents. There were two days of celebration after her win on Friday Aug. 30 with her coach, parents and teammates.
Sensei Jim Jennings of Jennings School of Karate says he is proud of Olivia and feels great about her win. When she returned home last week, the karate school set up banners and balloons to celebrate her achievement.
Deane will continue to train and practice, usually six days a week, at Jennings School of Karate and looks forward to many more competitions in the future.
“Thank you to everyone, my senseis, my parents and all my teammates.”