Steamboat’s own karate kids hoping to be in perfect “form” at world champs
This week, Sydney Ryan and Jordan Ward will head to Phoenix, Arizona, to compete in the United States Karate Alliance’s World Championships, a chance to chase their childhood dreams.
“I expect it to be bigger than the nationals, way bigger,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a little scary, but if I can place there, then I will have a better chance of making it onto the Olympic team.”
Ryan understands that a spot on the Olympic team is still years away, but she views this competition as the next step on a journey she has dreamed of taking since she first learned about the sport’s bid to become an Olympic sport as a seventh-grader.
It’s a dream she shares with 12-year-old Ward, who will also make the trip to Phoenix this week with hopes of a top finish and fuel for her own quest to be one of the top women in the sport of karate.
The girls qualified based on results from the USKA national championships, held New Mexico last April. Ryan, a junior black belt, placed second in kumite and third in kata in her division. Ryan and Ward teamed up with Delaney Parker to earn a third-place medal in the team kata competition.
But the Steamboat girls are expecting a different level of competition when they step in front of judges Thursday at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. On that day, the first of the competition, Ryan and Ward will join forces for the team weapons events. On Friday, they will compete, in different divisions, in Ippon (one point) sparring and, later in the day, will compete as individuals in the weapons division. On Saturday, the focus will be on kata (forms), and the event will wrap up with sparring on the final day.
“I an excited to see all the different forms and the different styles,” Ward said. “I hope it will be an inspiration to keep pushing in karate.”
Ward, who started karate when she was in first grade, said that pursing the sport of karate in Steamboat Springs is not always easy. Most of her friends are involved in more traditional sports, such as skiing, basketball, volleyball and soccer.
“All of my other friends like basketball or volleyball,” she said. “I’ve even had some tell me that I should play soccer. I tried it once, but it wasn’t for me.”
But Ward said she is hooked on karate and had found success at the state, regional and national levels. The first time she competed at nationals, she came home with the grand champion title in kata.
Now, she is hoping for similar success in her first appearance on the world stage, but she doesn’t expect it to come easily.
She has been training with Ryan for the past few months in preparation for this event. The two spend one or two hours practicing in the park each day, working on kata, weapons and sparring. This week, they are hoping all that hard work will pay off with a top results at worlds.
“I like the rush,” Ryan said of competition.
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