O'Fallon Progress

USA Karate Clubs of O’Fallon represents Southern Illinois at the 2019 USA Nationals & U.S. Team Trials

70-year-old O’Fallon woman earns black belt

Local news: Watch a 70-year-old O'Fallon, IL., woman break boards with her bare hands and feet during her Tae Kwon Do black belt testing in Southern Illinois near Belleville, IL, and St. Louis, MO.
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Local news: Watch a 70-year-old O'Fallon, IL., woman break boards with her bare hands and feet during her Tae Kwon Do black belt testing in Southern Illinois near Belleville, IL, and St. Louis, MO.

Local karate school attended the 2019 USA Nationals & U.S. Team Trial in Schaumburg, Illinois. USA Karate Clubs of O’Fallon took a group of local students to this championship July 11-14 held in the Schaumburg Convention Center.

An estimated 2,000, best of the best athletes from around the country competed in this event that was held in Illinois for the first time in more than 20 years.

This year’s Nationals Team selection highlighted the 2019 Junior Team selection to compete in the Junior Pan-American Championship in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the Junior World Championship in Santiago, Chile.

The Senior Team selection focused on the selection of the top six competitors in each division to compete for the top two spots at the Senior Team Trials at the USA Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. USA Karate Clubs’ team consisted of 21 athletes ranging in range from five years through 38 years old bringing home 25 medals overall.

USA Karate Clubs had two junior athletes, Jackson Neal (13) and Thoren Bedard (16), and one senior athlete, Mackenzy Fields (19), compete in the “elite” divisions for a spot to represent the United States on Team USA. Of the three athletes, Fields qualified for the U.S. Senior Team Trials in Colorado Springs this coming January.

The USA Karate Clubs delegation was organized by Jeff Bedard and Monique Fields of O’Fallon. Bedard is the founder of USA Karate Clubs as well a 5th Degree Black Belt with the USA National Karate Federation, karate’s Olympic governing body for the United States. Fields is USA Karate Clubs program director and recognized 3rd Degree Black Belt for the USA-NKF. Bedard and Fields are also World Karate Federation international referees.

Both coached and officiated during this national event. Additional coaches included Scott Miller, who assisted with preparing the athletes to compete in staging and coached ringside as well. Through their combined efforts, all athletes finished within the top 10 in the country, with most finishing within the top three in divisions of 20-40 competitors.

Said Miller, “The team was comprised of talented youth players, many who are 2019 Illinois State Champions. We were very pleased with their performance, especially kids under 10 years old. This championship was the first for many of these younger athletes. Most medaled and they all seemed to have a great time too.”

About the USA National Karate Federation

The USA National Karate Federation is the national governing body of karate for the United States Olympic Committee and as such is a member of World Karate Federation for the United States.

The organization has complete authority over all decisions regarding the U.S. National Junior and Senior team selections for WKF events. The tournaments the USA-NKF holds are big and nationwide and many famous martial artists attend the events. The Junior International Cup and USA Open held annually in Las Vegas is one of the largest international karate events in the world.

Every year the USA-NKF holds its National Championship for all ranks and ages in varying locations around the country where athletes who qualified at one of qualifying competitions held throughout the country compete for Junior and Senior Team slots as well as the National Champion Title. Karate has been a part of the Pan American Games since 1995 and is currently taking place in Lima, Peru, through Sunday.

Additionally, Karate will be featured in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in July of 2020. Olympic karate will feature two events: Kumite and Kata. Sixty competitors from around the world will compete in the Kumite competition and 20 will compete in the Kata competition.