Karate ace working hard

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Top karate prospect Isla Russell is aiming to add to her regional and national medal haul when she represents New Zealand at the 17th Oceania Karate Championships in New Caledonia in September.
The 11-year-old Ashburton Borough School student is one of 80 selected for the Kiwi team, which ranges from 10 years old and upwards, and is upping her training and working hard five weeks out from the overseas trip.
Her confidence is high after scooping three medals at the recent Nationals Karate Championships in Wellington.
She won gold in the 10 to 11 years female Kumite (sparring) final, silver in the team Kumite and bronze in the Kata (choreographed movement) section.
She has competed at national level four times now and also won many medals at regional competitions.
Kumite was her favourite discipline, she said, because it was ‘‘handson and more active’’.
Isla has enjoyed karate since the age of six and began with Tinwald sensei (instructor) Thorsten Windhorst.
She is currently abrown belt and just two gradings away from black.
She usually trains twice aweek at the Kofukan Karate Club in Christchurch, but will step that up to three sessions in the lead up to the Oceania event.
Extra fitness training is lined up on Tuesday nights in Ashburton and there is also aTinwald training camp this month as she looks to be in top shape for New Caledonia.
‘‘I want to win a medal in New Caledonia -gold would be great, but any medal would be good.’’
Karate, she says, is fun, challenges you to learn more, gives you the skill of self defence and keeps you fit.
Isla is a talented netballer, basketball player and is also involved in her school choir and kapa haka group.
Being tall, she usually sparred with girls much smaller than herself, which had both advantages and disadvantages, she said.
Speed, technique and good fitness were all important components of being good at karate.
Isla’s dad Sid will travel with her on the seven day trip to New Caledonia.
Some business sponsorship, including local firm McIntosh Construction, had been generously given to support the costs of the trip, said Mr Russell.
He said his daughter enjoyed and worked hard at karate and the family was very proud of her achievement in making the New Zealand team.