Thirteen-year-old Evan Squires is representing Airdrie and Cochrane on the national karate team by competing in the upcoming Pan-American Games, hosted in Mexico City at the end of August.
Squires was offered a spot on the national team after winning two silver medals at the Karate Canada National Championship in St. John’s, N.L. Squires won the medals in the Kata youth under 14-years-old division and the Kumite under 40 kilograms youth division.
The Kata section of karate refers to certain patterns of movements which demonstrate martial arts techniques while Kumite is the fighting portion, where someone trains to face an adversary.
An Airdrie resident who trains in Cochrane, Squires is one of only six Albertans on the national team and according to Namjal Squires, the young athlete's mother, he is the only double medalist from the provincial karate team.
“It is rare for a karateka athlete to complete in both categories as both take a considerable number of hours to dedicate to training,” Namjal said.
According to Namjal, only the top two ranked athletes in each division are invited to join the national team. Squires, being in the under 14 and under 40-kilogram division, competed against over 20 other karateka athletes in each category.
“He truly did amazing at nationals [and] we are so happy and proud,” Namjal added.
Squires said competing at nationals was very nerve-racking.
“There’s a lot of stuff that you have to think about, a lot of training goes into it but it was pretty fun,” he said.
His favourite part about nationals was getting to socialize and make new friends after the competition ended, Squires said.
Squires began training for nationals in September and spent five days a week kicking and punching at the Ippon Karate Dojo in Cochrane for at least two-and-a-half hours a session. The 13-year-old was selected for the provincial team in April, travelling to Newfoundland for the national competition in July.
Squires' successes at the national competition resulted in his placement on the Canadian team and they will travel to Mexico City at the end of August to compete in the Pan-American Games.
In preparation for the upcoming games, Squires has begun training seven days a week at the dojo and at least one hour every day at home, said Namjal.
Squires said he is feeling excited and the ever-confident karateka is most looking forward to winning the games.
Squires has been practicing karate for seven years, beginning the disciplined training at age six.
When asked why he likes karate, Squires said it fills him with confidence.
“It’s a good sport to condition your body and it’s good for self-defence and confidence,” he added.