The world championships are in Mumbai, India, half a world away, but as long as Nanaimo’s Bernadette Alvarez is on the karate mats, she’ll feel right at home.
“It’s not that different,” she said. “It’s a bunch of people doing karate, having fun, hopefully.”
The 17-year-old from Shima Karate will be competing in the International Karatedo Gojukai Association world championships from Dec. 10-16.
It’s a big deal, said her sensei Kurt Nordli, who will be accompanying her on the trip. Worlds are every four years and he’s never tried to qualify one of his Shima athletes until now.
“From what I’ve heard, as far as Canada’s team goes, they have high hopes on Bernadette…” he said. “They’re really hopeful she’s going to place and place well.”
Alvarez competed at nationals in Toronto in March, winning a silver medal in forms and a bronze in sparring. She never lets up with her training, coming into the Shima school five times a week.
“Her body type is perfect for karate,” Nordli said. “She has fast-twitch muscles, very good reflexes, so that helps.”
Alvarez said she’s been thinking about world championships since she was 12, so it’s exciting that it’s now becoming a reality. She doesn’t really know what the calibre of competition will be like, but she expects to be able to adapt.
She will try to strike a balance of enjoying the experience, yet maintaining her focus. To do well, she’ll need to “[get] a good night’s sleep, eat chocolate, be happy, not stressed,” she said. “Ride an elephant, preferably before the tournament; that would be cool.”
Though Alvarez is going to worlds to compete as an individual, it will take a team effort to get her there. Her peers are helping her fundraise for her trip and she said it’s reinforced how Shima isn’t just a dojo, but a family. It will inspire her to represent them as best she can.
“I don’t want to go over there and end up not doing my best…” she said. All these people supported me even though they didn’t have to. I might be their friend, but quite honestly they didn’t have to help me. But they still did, and I don’t want to go there for nothing.”