To better understand the role of the ambassadors for the Karate2020 promotion campaign, we asked Rika Usami (Japanese kata female) and Giorgina Xenou (Greek kata female) to explain their work and purpose.
Giorgina Xenou, born 10 June, 1997, is a multiple Greek national champion in kata and bronze medalist at the World Cadet, Junior and U21 Championships in Guadalajara (Spain), 2013 with Kata team (14-17 years).
WKF: How did you start karate? How old were you when you started?
Rika: When I was 10 years old, I saw an exciting scene in a TV drama of a woman who practiced fighting sports. She defeat the bad guy, and I thought she was so cool. Also, my elder brother was practicing Karate at that time.
WKF: And what do you like about karate?
Rika: Karate can be practiced by anybody, anytime and anywhere.
WKF: On Youtube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiiznDpoapQ), your video of Bercy 2012 final is the most watched video in the world (+2 000 000 views). What do you think about this?
Rika: Actually, I am very surprised myself, but I am very glad if I can impress people who don’t know anything about karate.
WKF: And what was your feeling in the moment of victory that day?
Rika: I was very happy. I received loud applause from all the spectators in the stadium, and I felt all the people from all over the world united into one. That is what I cannot forget.
WKF: After your gold medal at Paris 2012, you stopped competing. What was the reason? And what is your karate practice now?
Rika: It was my goal to obtain a gold medal at the world championships. At the World Championships in Paris 2012, I could demonstrate moving kata and obtained the gold medal. After I was able to achieve my goal, I wanted to obtain greater maturity as an instructor. I finished the postgraduate course and now I am working and practicing karate back in Tottori Prefecture.
WKF: What is your role as ambassador for Karate2020?
Rika: As for the promotion activities for the inclusion of karate into the Olympics, I give kata demonstrations and lectures.
WKF: Why do you think that karate should be Olympic?
Rika: We can impress the greatest number of people around the world through the Olympics.
WKF: What are your wishes and your hopes for the Olympics?
Rika: I hope karate becomes an Olympic sport and everybody gets to know about karate.
I would like to pass on the karate techniques and introduce the merits of karate to the mind and body, and I fervently hope for world peace through our Olympic sport.
WKF: How did you start karate? At what age did you start? And what do you like in karate?
Giorgina: My parents are Karate trainers, so I almost grow up in a Karate school! I was watching the groups trainings since I was a baby and I loved the karate movements so I started imitate some of them. I joined a group when I was about 3,5 years old!
I love everything in karate: kihon, self defense techniques, kumite but I have a small preference at kata.
WKF: You were seriously ill and karate had an important role in your healing. Could you explain your story and why karate was important?
Giorgina: All these difficult days and nights of my life, I was trying to find ways to forget pain, chemotherapies and all the relative adverse effects of them. The most pleasant and positive thoughts I had, that made me laugh and hope, were these which had to do with my favorite sport, karate! So I had found the way to fight my illness! I saw cancer as another opponent that I had to win! At most difficult moments I was closing my eyes and thinking myself again in the pedestal as a winner… And I had given a promise to myself: to manage to stand in the pedestal again after my illness! Karate gave me strength to overcome cancer!
And a few months after my recovery that I managed to win the gold metal in National and Balkan championships, I was definitely sure that cancer would not dare to come back again!
WKF: Now, what are your goals in competition? And personally?
Giorgina: On 2013 I managed a bronze European and a bronze World medal in team junior kata! My goals are to manage at least the same in individual category. This is my greatest dream!
This year I finish high school and from September I will study at University Physical Education!
WKF: You became ambassador for the campaign Karate2020. Can you explain how does one become an ambassador? What is your background for the future?
Giorgina: I had this great opportunity due to the organization “Make a wish” to travel to Tokyo, meet my favorite athlete Rika Usami and train with her! During my stay in Tokyo I was announced that this great honor of being ambassador was going to be awarded to me! I really feel very excited about this fact and very grateful to the JKF about this unique quotation!
The greatest dream for an athlete is to participate in the Olympic games! Hope that this opportunity will also be given to karate athletes!!!
WKF: What is your mission? And what are your hopes for karate?
Giorgina: My mission is to carry forward the message that karate should be into the Olympics! Hope that this so amazing and dynamic sport will manage to be at the Olympic Games this time, especially because on 2020, Olympic games will take place at the country that karate was born, and believe that this is the correct time and place for Karate to win what it deserves!
At the same time I will try to participate to as many worldly events as possible having always as purpose to propel karate at the Olympic Games! I already started to do this in several means of transports in my country!
WKF: Rika Usami is your supervisor for Karate2020. What is your relationship with Rika and how do you work together?
Giorgina: As I mentioned before, I am an admirer of Rica and a few days ago I had the honor to meet and train with her! In addition to an amazing athlete, Rika is also a very wonderful, kind and sweet person that I really like and love very much!
I will be in contact with her, using her guidance and advises in my trainings and also in our common purpose the entrance of Karate in Olympic games!