In this article, youth karate athlete Leo Baloch, aged 14, tells his story on the preparation for renowned ‘nationals’ championships and how COVID19 has challenged this. Interviewed by Thea Baloch, Sixth Form College Colchester.

1. What is nationals?


“Nationals is where competitors from each region in England go to select to be in the national team, which can then develop into selecting for greater standard competitions e.g. World Championship, European Championship (against other countries’ national teams).”


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


“Win continuously in Britain’s highest standard competitions and get selected for the regional team to then go to my first nationals training and select for the team.”


3.How did you feel about doing nationals?


“When I first started  England training aged 12-13 it was quite nerve-wracking as it was a big step up, but also because I was with people I fight at competitions.”


4.What impact has COVID had on your sport


“At first we had to do training online but now we can go if we have a negative test and wear a mask when not training. It has also made sparring more worrying as we are cautious if someone were to have COVID. As well as this, it has ruled out certain life-changing experiences such as fighting in Venice, Germany and Netherlands."


5.How do you think COVID has affected others on your squad?


“It has affected the amount of people absent at training because if one person were to have COVID chances are another person will, making it escalate further throughout the club. This makes it difficult for students to progress with their career in karate.”


6.What do you enjoy most about karate?


“I have been doing karate for  7 years  now, I enjoy the process of winning at competitions. You learn discipline which can translate to dedication, hard work.”


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


“Karate takes a lot more hard work and dedication than what is portrayed in the media as it’s a process to achieve certain goals.”


8. What is the biggest thing you have learnt about yourself through karate?


“To keep striving and to stay determined even if I get to the lowest point in competitions as if you keep your head down and focus you can achieve what you dream to succeed.”