KC PRESIDENT REFLECTS ON TOKYO GAMES
‘ With the close of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics it is important to reflect on the success of Canadian Karate-ka, its athletes, coaches, officials, PTSOs, Operational leadership and Board of Directors. Of course, we are all still basking in the fact that our sport was finally in the Olympics and that a Canadian athlete, Daniel Gaysinsky, is now an Olympian. While of course our focus is always, and must remain, on the athlete(s), it is also true that ‘it takes a village’. If you wish to have gold medal athletes, you need gold medal coaches. Congratulations to Roman Saltikov, Daniel’s personal coach, and to Nassim Varesteh, the Head Coach of the Olympic Kumite Program. It is also important to note that 3 other Karate Canada athletes came amazingly close to qualifying for Tokyo 2020. Melissa Bratic, Haya Jumaa, and Rita Ha Thi Ngo just missed representing Canada in Tokyo and I cannot say enough about the commitment, hard work and sacrifice these athletes have put in. Amazing coaches and support networks stand behind these athletes as well.
An event such as the Olympic Games, and with Karate in it, also provided opportunities for other Canadian Karate-ka. Norma Foster was appointed as an International Technical Official by the World Karate Federation. Chris de Sousa Costa provided excellent play-by-play analysis for the CBC Sports English broadcast – which was very well received. Daphné Trahan-Perreault worked as a consultant for Radio-Canada and did her best to help broadcasters unfamiliar with our sport, to the best of her ability. Our Program Manager, Alexandra Roy, went to the Games as an expert volunteer on behalf of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Indeed, while this was an amazing achievement for many, I think it is important to note that the Board of Directors, both present and past, had the vision and forethought to approve a program that would act to support potential athletes to Tokyo 2020. In a federation with limited resources this is not an easy decision, but I believe it was instrumental in helping our top athletes forward in many ways. I would also like to acknowledge our staff, whose job it is to manage Karate Canada on behalf of its Board and Membership, as this success is their success as well.
While Karate may take some time to return to the Olympic scene (it remains on the Junior Olympic program), I believe that the many challenges and opportunities of the last four years, including working with Own the Podium, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Sport Canada as an Olympic sport, and not a Pan Am Games only sport, has forever changed us as a federation. Gone are the days of showing up to a few continental and world events and whichever world championship is taking place, gone are the days of being satisfied with a good performance as being sufficient, gone are the days of ad-hoc programs and individual ideas of governance and high-performance. Canadian Karate-ka, its provincial and territorial associations, the athletes, coaches and officials, as well as our funding partners, now expect more of us. I expect more of us, of all of us.
Were the last 5 years perfect? Absolutely not. Did we make mistakes and missteps? Absolutely we did. Are we taking the necessary steps to improve? Absolutely we are. Fresh on the news of inclusion into the 2027 Canada Winter Games, Karate Canada has received a report on governance to allow it to improve the way it conducts its organisational affairs. In a few months we anticipate receiving a High Performance Pathway review that will take a critical look at our various High Performance systems and will offer us ideas and suggestions to help us improve these programs as well, including a look at our HP and Operational structures.
Moving into 2022 I anticipate that Karate Canada will make bold changes as it attempts to capitalise on the lessons of the Olympic adventure and to embrace a more modern governance and High Performance structure. This will likely involve some change, and change can be hard, but, this is karate. Of course it is hard, but, as in all things, we will be successful.’
(Photo by Darren Calabrese/COC – © 2021 Canadian Olympic Committee)