Coach Kamelia Fard, Olivia Zheng, Cole Puchalski and KimNik Karate Academy Head instructor Ali Najafi. Zheng and Puchalski, medalists at at the Canadian National Championships in St. John’s, have been named to Team Canada for the Pan Am games. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Coach Kamelia Fard, Olivia Zheng, Cole Puchalski and KimNik Karate Academy Head instructor Ali Najafi. Zheng and Puchalski, medalists at at the Canadian National Championships in St. John’s, have been named to Team Canada for the Pan Am games. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley karate competitors named to Pan Am team

KimNik Karate Academy competitors clinched their spot by winning medals at nationals in July

Two competitors from the KimNik Karate Academy in Langley’s Walnut Grove will represent Canada at the Pan Am games in Mexico later this month.

Olivia Zheng and Cole Puchalski, both 13, qualified for the game by winning medals for Team B.C. at the Canadian National Championships held in St. John’s, Newfoundland in July.

Zheng won gold in kumite (sparring) and silver in kata (performance of skills), while Puchalski took gold in kumite.

KimNik Karate Academy Head instructor Ali Najafi credited the pair for being prime examples of “self-belief and hard work.”

“Success results from perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence,” Najafi remarked.

“Olivia and Cole have shown they are up for challenges in life. As a family dojo, we are all proud of them.”

Zheng is a James Kennedy student and Puchalski is a Langley Fine Arts student.

Olivia Zheng and Cole Puchalski from the KimNik Karate Dojo in Walnut Grove show their medals, won at the Canadian National Championships in St. John’s. Both have been named to Team Canada for the Pan Am games. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Olivia Zheng and Cole Puchalski from the KimNik Karate Dojo in Walnut Grove show their medals, won at the Canadian National Championships in St. John’s. Both have been named to Team Canada for the Pan Am games. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Coach Kamelia Fard said the dojo is “is known for making National champions for years; and this year wasn’t any different” even though the pandemic limited their training.

“Most of these athletes have been staying in practice during the hard time of COVID, when the only way to stay active was on-line practice,” Fard explained.

“We kept staying positive and provided the practice on-line for months and students who attended kept us motivated to remain positive,” Fard told the Langley Advance Times.

“We are very proud of our athletes for their hard work, and accomplishments,” she added.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Multiple medals won by Langley karate club

The nine KimNik athletes who went to the national competition were among 500 junior and senior competitors who came together to vie for national titles in kata, kumite, para-karate and team kata.

Medalists from that event were added to the 2022-2023 national team roster for events to come.

On Tuesday, Aug. 16, Karate Canada announced the names of the 80-person team that will represent Canada for the 2022 Pan American Junior Championships to be held in Mexico City, Mexico, from August 25-27.

The team of athletes, aged 12 to 20, will compete against the continent’s best karatekas in 42 individual categories and three team categories, in kata and kumite divisions.

It will be the first edition of the event since 2019, as the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to COVID.

Results of the Pan Am championships will help decide the makeup of the team representing Canada at the 2022 World Junior Championships set for Oct. 26-30 in Konya, Turkey.

The 2022 Junior World Championships team selection will be based off the 2022 National Championships and the 2022 Pan American Championships result.

READ ALSO: Fascination turns into passion for Langley sisters


Have a story tip? Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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