Smithers fighter wins bronze at karate worlds

Lando Ball narrowly missed a chance to fight in the gold medal match in Austria

Lando Ball at the World Kickboxing and Karate Union World Championships in Bregenz, Austria. (Submitted photo)

A Smithers-based, Tahltan martial artist has won bronze at the World Kickboxing and Karate Union (WKU) World Championships.

Lando Ball, 13, was just one point away from advancing to the gold medal fight in the U12 50+ kg Karate point fighting division when he narrowly lost out to American opponent Diego Galeano.

“I felt like I won,” Lando said via text from Bregenz, Austria. “I’m a winner for just coming here to the World Championships.”

Ann Ball, Lando’s mother, said in a Facebook post it was “without doubt, the most intense fight I’ve ever watched.”

WATCH:Lando Ball’s bronze medal performance at karate worlds

Lando did amazing. Bronze medal and the best fight he’s ever had. This is without a doubt, the most intense fight I have ever watched. He represented Canada 🇨🇦, the Shogun Dojo and our Tahltan Nation on Tahltan Day like a true champion. We are all super proud of him and look forward to his future, in his chosen sport of karate. A few teams and his Kiyoshi Marwan said it was the best fight of the tournament so far. They were tied at the end of regular time, then had a 1 minute extra time tie breaker and they tied again. He then lost by 1 point in sudden death to advance onto fight for gold. And the first 2 point kick the US kid was awarded definitely was a shoulder not head shot. No excuses though, all part of the sport. He has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, that is for sure. Again, Wayne and I would like to thank everyone for the amazing support you showed our son during his first WKU World Championships, without everyone’s support we could not be here.#TahltanStrong

Posted by Ann Ball on Friday, October 18, 2019

“He represented Canada, the Shogun Dojo (Smithers) and our Tahltan Nation on Tahltan Day (Oct. 18) like a true champion.”

Lando qualified for worlds by virtue of his gold medal win at the Canadian National Championships in Calgary in March.

He is currently looking forward to going back to nationals next March and qualifying again for the worlds, which will be held in Quebec City next year. He is nothing if not confident.

“I believe I will be a world champion and if it’s in the Olympics, I will be an Olympian,” he said.

“I also want to have my own dojo (training facility) with Kiyoshi (expert teacher) Marwan (Abu Khadra) and Shogun Dojo.”

READ MORE: Smithers dojo captures quadruple gold

Marwan was also in Austria as a coach for the Canadian team. His son, Sensei (teacher) Karim Abu Khadra competed at the event in Adult point fighting and light contact karate.

Marwan attributes Lando’s success to a very simple formula: “Training, commitment and a fighter’s heart,” he texted.

Aside from winning a medal, Lando said the highlight of the championships was meeting other Canadian fighters and being there with his Sensei Karim and his Kiyoshi Marwan.

“I could not have done any of this without the training from the Shogun Dojo and the support of my parents, friends and family,” he said.

He was especially pleased to have with him at the tournament his grandmother Marge Fraser—who is reportedly his biggest fan and was almost brought to tears by his performance, Ann said.

The family will be back in the Northwest on Oct. 22, just in time for Lando to pick up his Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports. One of 36 2019 recipients of the award—six from each of the six regions—Lando will be honoured at a ceremony in Hazelton on Oct. 23.

The regional recipients become nominees for the provincial awards, which will be announced in early 2020.

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