One of Bradford's own is headed to the Junior Pan American Games this month to compete for Karate Canada.
Bradford resident Olivia Deane, 15, was presented with official congratulations for her qualifiction at Jennings School of Karate this week from Mayor Rob Keffer and Coun. Peter Ferragine.
Deane will be competing in Kumite style Karate with Team Canada in Guayaquil, Ecuador from Aug.26-Aug.31.
She has competed in provincial and national competitions before, but this will be her first international competition.
Her mother, Ramona Deane says she is very excited for her daughter and had nothing but good things to say about Jennings Karate School where Deane has been a student for the past eight years.
“It’s an honour for us to have her here in a place of such integrity where they build character, they build confidence, and they make you feel good about yourself. I brag about this place all the time,” she gushed.
Deane has been training hard and is excited about her first Junior Pan American Games competition.
“I’m excited. I’m also nervous though” she admitted.
Mayor Keffer and Coun. Ferragine presented Deane with a letter from council congratulating her on the accomplishment, as well as a bag of Bradford goodies- including pens, pins, ponchos and postcards.
Instructor, Sensei Jim Jennings, noted that it is customary for international karate competitors to bring pins from their country and trade with one another.
“I have pins from the Soviet Union, from all different countries. So it’s kind of fun when you start developing a collection,” he recalled from his days of competing.
Mayor Keffer was delighted to give his congratulations to Deane personally.
“It’s always great to see a Bradford resident excel and move on to further competition, and we are wishing you all the best,” said Keffer.
“You’re going to make Bradford proud for sure,” added Ferragine.
Jennings says he is very proud of Deane and all the hard work she has done to get to where she is.
“It’s amazing. It’s good for her, good for all of us,” he said.
Deane holds a brown belt and has always been dedicated to the sport, waking up at 5:30 a.m. to train before school, and then hitting the gym again after class in the evening.
For two years, she volunteered at Jennings School of Karate and just this year began working there on a part-time basis where she helps supervise and instruct other students.
Jennings School of Karate was started in Bradford in 1994 by Jennings who is a karate champion and seventh degree black belt. Jennings started off by teaching karate through the Bradford Parks and Recreation program, running two classes per week.
In March 2000 the club opened its official 5,000-square-foot facility on John Street and has been the town’s go-to karate school over the years. Jennings instructs the classes along with his wife, Trish.
The school practices traditional Shotokan karate with a sporty approach to their training which they believe helps keep children interested in the sport.