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Impressive kick

Karate in the city is on the upswing with karatekas doing well at the national level


AN ASSORTMENT of `Hoos' and `Haas' greets one at the Sree Padmavathi Ammal Cultural Centre, where the 19th All India Karate Federation (AIKF) National Championship is on.

It is the first time that the Manchester of South India is hosting an official championship of this class. And, there's enough reason too, if you go by the popularity of this sport among students. Close to 10,000 kids drawn from 40-odd schools are learning this martial art. Not just for self-defence or the sake of learning it, but to make headway in the sport.

They are coming back with awards too.

"If Coimbatore is doing better than other cities in this sport, it is due to proper planning and the professional approach by the men concerned," says So-Shihan Moses Thilak, founder-member, AIKF. Coimbatore's karatekas have it in them to do well both in the country and abroad, he adds.

"I will not be surprised if somebody from this city bags an international gold in the years to come. Their biggest advantage is having instructors and officials who are into karate full-time. That's not the case in other cities," he adds.

A whopping 1,000 karatekas from Coimbatore took part in the Silver Jubilee State Championship held in Chennai in August last year. A special train was arranged to take them to the championship.

AIKF General Secretary, Sensei Paul Vickraman, claims this is the first time that a single district had sent such a large contingent. "We have already sent the participation list, the train tickets and the relevant papers to the Guinness Book of World Records for verification."

Though karate started taking roots in the city in the seventies, it took a decade for it to take shape. The Coimbatore District Karate Association (CDKA) was formed in 1988 with Paul Vickraman, B. A. Devaraj, K.R. Sarangadaharan

and S. Kumaresan as founders.

The first batch of competitors sent by the CDKA for the TN State Championship in Erode came back with the bronze. From 1990 to 1998, they inched up to the second spot before reaching the top in 1999.

At the national level, Coimbatoreans bagged 11 gold medals in the 2000 Bhopal nationals and improved their tally to 17 and 20 in the subsequent championships. Having done well both in the state and national level, the karatekas have now set their sights on foreign shores.

RAYAN ROZARIO

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