My brother ‘Karate Kid’ and the impact COVID19 has had on his sport. By Thea Baloch, The Sixth Form College Colchester

In this article, young karate athlete Leo Baloch, 14, tells his story of preparing for renowned ‘national’ championships and how COVID19 has called that into question. Interviewed by Thea Baloch, Sixth Form College Colchester.

1. What are nationals?

“The National Championships are where competitors from each region of England go to select to be part of the National Team, which can then progress to selection for more standard competitions eg World Championship, Championship Europe (against national teams from other countries). ”

2.What did you have to do to prepare for the nationals?

“Continuously winning in the highest competitions in Britain and being selected for the regional team to then participate in my first national training and select for the team.”

3. What did you think of doing with the nationals?

“When I started training in England at the age of 12-13, it was quite scary because it was a big step forward, but also because I was with people with whom I fought in competitions. ”

4.How has COVID impacted your sport?

“At first we had to train online, but now we can go if we test negative and wear a mask when we are not training. It also made sparring more of a concern as we are careful if anyone should have COVID. On top of that, it ruled out some life-changing experiences, such as the fighting in Venice, Germany and the Netherlands. ”

5.How do you think COVID has affected other members of your team?

“It has affected the number of people absent from training because if one person had a chance of COVID another person will, which will make the problem even worse across the club. This makes it difficult for students to progress in their career in karate.

6.What do you love most about karate?

“I have been practicing karate for 7 years now, I like to win in competition. You learn the discipline which can translate into dedication, hard work.

7. What would you like others to know about this sport?

“Karate takes a lot more hard work and dedication than what is portrayed in the media because it is a process of achieving certain goals.”

8. What is the most important thing that you learned about yourself from karate?

“To keep fighting and staying determined even though I get to the lowest point in competitions, like keeping your head down and focusing, you can achieve what you dream of achieving.”

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