Duncan, BC, Canada – Sometimes a young athlete’s short-term desire to win can outweigh learning greater life lessons. Happily, this is the not case for Queen Margaret’s School student Amelia Cooper (Grade 10), whose life-long dedication to the sport of Goju-kai karate ultimately earned her a top podium position this past weekend at the 7th Karate-do Goju-kai Global Championships in Richmond, BC.
The 15-year-old first-degree black belt explains that her interest in the sport of karate was sparked when her brother began lessons. “I was five or six and a little jealous of him doing karate, so I asked my parents if I could also join,” says Amelia. “Since that first class, I have discovered important life values which I try to embody every day: helping others, honour, and respect. Karate is not about the game of winning…in karate you win when you walk away. I think that is a great life lesson.”
When it came to the Global Championships though, Amelia could not walk away. Her recent selection as a member of the 50-person team from Shima Karate Dojo (Nanaimo) to represent Canada at the tournament held at the Richmond Olympic Oval, was Amelia’s second appearance on the Richmond mats. At the 2015 National Championships hosted at the same location, Amelia earned silver, so this veteran was comfortable with the venue and more than ready to step back onto the international stage.
After a successful round-robin performance in the kumite (sparring) 57 kilo division, competing against athletes from South Africa, Japan, and Indonesia, Amelia earned a place in the finals against an Australian black belt. Amelia’s father, Richard Cooper, shares that it was an intense match. “At an early point in the match, Amelia was six points down (5-11). As always, Amelia used resilience and fortitude to fight back and recover the points she had lost. She used front jabs, reverse punches, hook kicks and perfect technique to win a really thrilling match, 16-19.”
What are the future plans for this modest karate star? Amelia intends to continue training, with a date set to test for her full Shodan black belt in November, and admits that she would not shy away from the opportunity to represent Canada at the international level again, maybe in the Olympics one day. “I want to keep going,” says Cooper. “This sport is tremendously important to me and I will always be proud to represent my country.”