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Karate- kicking dynamo

Capella’s Katie Clarke is kicking her way to the top after gold medal success in Italy.
Capella’s Katie Clarke is kicking her way to the top after gold medal success in Italy.

BIG plans require a big dreamer and a quick glance over the credentials of World Karate champion Katie Clarke makes it clear this pocket rocket is well stocked in both.

After taking gold at the World Karate Coalition in Italy last October, the former Mackay schoolgirl now in Capella, already has her sights on bigger and bolder plans for the future.

The sharp-kicking medallist not only hopes to open and run her very own karate school in Capella, she wants to make martial arts her career.

“Karate is my life – my dream job is to be in the martial arts movies like Jackie Chan,” Katie said.

A self-confessed fan of many of the popular kung-fu movies, she said to be living and working in the acting business would be the pinnacle of her career.

“I study them (the movies) all the time but a lot of it is pretty hard to learn.”

If Katie was to draw up a list of her most treasured sporting moments to date, she said standing at the top of the podium to accept her gold medal in the under-17 Kumite division would be hard to beat.

“I had been training so hard for it,” she said. “I still can’t really believe that I won.”

The world meet was Katie’s fourth championship with every previous attempt recording a fifth placing.

With some serious Year 12 study looming in 2011, Katie knew better than most this was to be her final stab at gold medal glory.

Preparation for Katie in the final couldn’t have been more troublesome, with two broken knuckles and a splintered bone in her finger.

The injuries pushed Katie’s pain threshold to breaking point.

“You could see the black coming through in her knuckles,” her dad Ray described as he watched his daughter battle through the ordeal.

“And you could see that she really wanted to win it.

“Then she came in with two really good strikes – the crowd just went nuts.”

Katie’s achievement was made all the more special considering she was the only Australian team member to win an individual gold medal in the senior grade.

“She has had her setbacks before but this time it looked like she really had her heart in it,” Ray said.

Now that her goal has been met it’s far from a case of simply taking her foot off the accelerator but rather a redirection of focus.

“My priority now is for school and only school,” Katie said. “Doing four hours of training a day, it was pretty hard to get everything done.”

Behind every good sportsperson is usually an inspirational coach and Katie has hers in Mackay mentor Lutie van den Berg.

Lutie, who has represented South Africa, New Zealand and Australia at a record seven world championships, has been a guiding light for Katie in her karate career.

“You know what he is saying is genuine, I could not ask for a better coach,” Katie said.

“He will work you hard and train you hard and some days you don’t like him at all, but at the end of it you know you are going to come out of it for the better.”


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