Had the TV cameras captured the moment in Ottawa over the May long weekend, the karate kids from Langdon could have yelled out, ‘I’m going to Disney World!,’ and they would have been correct.
Among the eight students from Oku Damashi Martial Arts who competed in the World Karate Commission Nations from May 19-21, seven of them qualified for the world championship. That means preparation has begun for the WKC World Karate Championship in Orlando this November, which just so happens to have a local attraction that makes people from around the world visit the Florida city.
“When you go, you have to see the sights. We have to go to Disney World,” said parent Jill Beaton, whose kids Kailey and Kayden Lang both qualified. “They are super excited. The kids love it. They love what they do.
“The competition is pretty nerve-racking. To be able to pull it together when you go out and try your best is amazing. To do what they’ve done is pretty amazing.”
At the nationals in Ottawa, the Langdon kids cleaned up, winning three gold medals, four silvers and four bronze. Ten-year-old Talisa Cowley led the way, picking up silver in point sparring, bronze in both continuous sparring and hard sparring and fourth in classical Kata, which qualifies her for four events at the world championships, running Nov. 4-10 in Orlando.
Eleven-year-old Kailey Lang picked up gold in continuous sparring, while her 10-year-old brother Kayden won silver in continuous sparring and bronze in point sparring. Amy Saretsky, the eldest of the group at age 16, took home gold in continuous sparring and silver in point sparring.
Eleven-year-old Allison Unruh also won gold in continuous sparring and added a bronze in point sparring, while nine-year-old Cole Visser qualified with a fourth-place finish in continuous sparring.
Eight-year-old Emily McWilliam, the youngest competitor from Langdon, won a silver in continuous sparring, while her brother Luke, age 10, supported the entire group with a gold-medal cheering performance.
Overall, it was an impressive performance from the Langdon kids, considering the size of the training facility. A lot of credit goes to Sensei Tammy Thankachen, who had the students competing with integrity, humbleness, passion and respect, the motto of the dojo.
“We couldn’t get where we are without her,” Beaton said. “There’s been a lot of tough love on her part. Their training is blood sweat and tears. Bloody noses and fat lips are on par when the kids are sparring.
“It’s such a small dojo and such a small town, so that it’s pretty impressive for the kids to have made it as far as they have.”
This is the second straight year the Langdon kids have qualified for the world championships. Last year, the Lang family was among the group that competed in Dublin, Ireland, and the trip created some lifelong memories.
“It was amazing. They meet kids from all over the world,” Beaton said. “Last year, there was a ton of European content. A lot of countries had kids represented there. This year, we’re expecting a lot of American and South American kids there. It’s going to be different than last year.
“It’s team building and the kids have a blast. When they aren’t competing we’re able to go out and do different things. We were able to see a lot of Dublin in their down time. It was more than just a tournament. We were able to have a lot of fun there too. We were the only ones who stayed the extra week. We rented a car and just drove around.”
Going to the world championships is going to cost a pretty penny though. Beaton estimates that taking her family of five will be several thousand dollars. To offset the costs for the students, the parents are planning to start fundraising this summer. They have applied for a non-profit license to be able host events, run bottle drives and raffles.
There will be plenty of work needed to be done before the trip can be booked, but it’s worth it to the parents to see their kids follow their passions.
“We have a plan to do a barbecue fundraiser at Langdon Days,” Beaton said. “We hope to get the kids out in the community maybe in the community garden, helping maintain that.
“We want to get the kids out and be a bit more visible so hopefully that will attract some donations.”