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Jan 16, 1998

Belize Karate Team scores in Cancun

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The youthful participants came from as far away as Australia and Vietnam but in the end it was the karate kids from south of the border who stole the show.

The Belize Junior National Team of fifteen young people was one of the smallest contingents to compete in the World Congress of Martial Arts seventh annual Goodwill Games. The Competition, held in Cancun, had over four hundred competitors fighting for medals, but according to Rick Bateman, the President of Martial Arts Federation of Belize, the team never did lose confidence.

Rick Bateman Jr., President, MAFB

Oh it was fantastic, you know. We were outnumbered. The U.S team had over two hundred competitors, and they had equally amount of spectators. So our contingent was rather small, so there was a little bit of apprehension in the beginning about how well our students were going to do, but once the competition got going, we got a chance to see that they were well prepared.

The preparation which included three months of intense training paid off handsomely in the end. The Belize team won a total of fifteen medals: seven gold, five silver and three bronze.

They were also recognized for their quality performance and understanding of the role discipline plays in the martial arts.

Bringing home two gold for his outstanding performance in both the Kata and Weapons category was young Darwin Heredia. Heredia says one of the things he remembers most about the games is when his name was called.

Darwin Heredia, Gold Medalist

About the winning and doing my best at the Kata. When they called out your name, how did you feel? I felt really, really nervous at times. Most nervous in my whole life.

Fifteen year old David Grant, besides walking away with two gold and a silver, also captured the title of overall Junior Grand Champion.

David Grant, Gold/Silver Medalist

It was a lot of fun, actually. Its not scary, just a lot of fun to go and compete against countries around the world.

Such big wins, says Bateman are an encouragement for the next generation in Martial Arts who will, in the future, compete not only in Junior games, but in Senior tournaments as well.

The Cancun competition featured a number of different martial arts styles including Red Dragon Karate, Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Moo Du Quan, Hapkido, Tai Chi Quan and the ever popular Kung Fu.


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