The recreational side of karate keeps Zachary Waschuk athletically-tuned, but the 14-year-old also thrives on the competitive aspect of the sport.
“I’ve probably got 30 medals and 10 trophies at home,” he said Saturday, after placing first and second in his two events of the 31st Annual Western Canada Karate Championship at Hunting Hills High School.
Waschuk added to his hardware haul by taking top honours in the 14-16 junior B men’s blue/brown belt sparring event, and settling for runner-up status in kata.
“I was feeling pretty confident today considering this was my first tournament of the year,” said Waschuk.
“I normally enter four events a year, including this one.”
The Grade Nine Lindsay Thurber student has been a member of the Cheney Karate Studio in Red Deer for nine years.
“I followed my brother and sister into karate,” he noted. “This is pretty much my main sport, I work out twice a week. I really enjoy the fighting part of karate and the self respect that I’ve gained over the years has kept me interested and involved.”
Waschuk has seen Cheney students come and go since he first became involved.
“It seems to be about 50-50 in terms of new faces and the people who stick with karate,” he said.
Waschuk will likely be competing at a higher level next year and perhaps even later this year.
“I’m moving up the ladder a bit. I’m going for my black belt in June,” said the brown-belt holder, who last year placed first in the 12-13 blue/brown belt forms event of the Western Canada Championship.
“From there, I don’t know what will follow. I’ll probably get my junior black belt and then go after a main black belt. We’ll see what happens from there.”
Could the Olympic Games, or another prestigious international competition, be in his future?
“I don’t know about that, but there’s nothing wrong with setting your goals high,” he said.
More than 300 athletes from mostly Alberta and Saskatchewan attended this year’s tournament.
The ages of the competitors ranged from five to 60-plus.
The Cheney Karate Studio (and perhaps other Red Deer/Central Alberta) results will appear in the Advocate Tuesday or Wednesday.