Karate champ wins at worlds

Bernadette Alvarez from Nanaimo’s Shima Karate School became Canada’s first IKGA world karate champion.

Nanaimo’s Bernadette Alvarez

Bernadette Alvarez made ‘O Canada’ happen at the world championships this month.

Never before had the Canadian anthem been played in a medal ceremony at the International Karate-do Goju-kai Association world championships. But the teen from Nanaimo’s Shima Karate School beat all comers on the sparring mats in Mumbai, India, and got to ascend to the top of the podium as Canada’s first IKGA world champ.

Originally from the Philippines, there was some question of whether Alvarez would even be allowed to compete for Canada. She was, she did. She earned gold; she earned the anthem.

“Everyone’s looking at me; I’m like, well, shoot, I’m supposed to sing. Thank God they didn’t have a mike,” she joked. “I think that part was a bit more terrifying than fighting an Iranian girl.”

Alvarez beat opponents from Australia, South Africa and India to reach the final, where she was matched up against an Iranian.

“Iran was pretty good but she just couldn’t figure out Bernadette’s game plan,” said Kurt Nordli, Shima sensei, who accompanied his pupil on the trip. “What she did well was mixed up her game plan. She didn’t do the same thing twice.”

Alvarez, amid the frenzy of fists and quantity of kicks, hardly noticed, at first, that she was building a lead.

OK… OK… all right, she thought to herself as the points piled up, and she didn’t relent.

“When she threw that last side thrust kick and I saw two flags go out, it made it all worthwhile, it really did…” said Nordli. “It was quite the moment.”

The sportsmanlike Alvarez resisted jumping up and down, but she was ecstatic.

“I was grinning so much right after that my cheekbones hurt,” she said.

Earlier at the competition, she had won a silver medal in forms, so really, the world championships could hardly have been better. It was exciting, Alvarez said, to compete in an international event and see, for example, the 200-member South African contingent march into the stadium. With more than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries gathered, even a world champ could pick up some pointers.

“It was cool; you get to see other ways of doing things,” Alvarez said.

She had fun, too, trading pins and trinkets. She made new friends, though she missed everyone at Shima while she was away at worlds making them proud.

“It really helps bring the club to another level, just for the kids to realize that if anyone wants to do it, they can,” Nordli said. “They just need to follow the path, train hard, work hard. Someone beside you has done it. It’s not some dream of someone in another place. It’s someone from our dojo.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Designs come in for proposed student housing across from NDSS

City of Nanaimo reviewing development permit application for 160-unit Wakesiah complex

Nanaimo cat with a disability can still teach foster kittens ‘how to cat’

Life goes from sour to sweet for Lemon, an adopted cat from B.C. SPCA Nanaimo

Protesters in Nanaimo call for greater protection of old-growth forests

Extinction Rebellion organized rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday afternoon

Nanaimo River Road ‘hotspot’ for theft from vehicles, says RCMP

Over dozen reports of theft in past month, say Nanaimo RCMP, many victims were headed to backcountry

Neighbours try to clean up around nuisance drug house on Milton Street in Nanaimo

560 Milton St. was declared a nuisance property last month

Nanaimo cat with a disability can still teach foster kittens ‘how to cat’

Life goes from sour to sweet for Lemon, an adopted cat from B.C. SPCA Nanaimo

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Vancouver Island films sought for One Minute Mobile Movie Challenge

All entries to be screened online in virtual film festival

Drive-in movie screenings next week will benefit Nanaimo food bank

Fortis B.C. and Fresh Air Cinema holding fundraisers at Woodgrove Centre

City to begin Metral Drive ‘complete street’ roadwork in August

Phase 1 includes seven raised intersections, sidewalks, cycle track

Nanaimo RCMP’s space needs prompt city to assess its properties in that area

Council approves $120,000 to develop real estate strategy for ‘civic precinct’ in the Old City Quarter

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Most Read