ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.(KRQE)- More than 50 countries will be represented and seven of the 20 athletes from team USA competing at the Junior Karate World Championship in Ireland will be from Albuquerque. The magnificent seven range in age from 12 to 17. They are all under the instruction of Sensei Yasuaki Nagatomo of the Japan Karate Association of New Mexico. Nagatomo is a 7th-degree black belt that has been a team USA coach since 1992. This year he is the USA Youth coach, but that’s not why so many from Albuquerque made the team.
They made it because they are really good. Nagatomo’s daughter Emily describes the group as being just like a family. “We’re so close and we know each other really well,” Emily said. “It’s so easy to rely on one another. We also have a good coach.”
Brother and sister August and Citlali Tierney have been on the world stage with Nagatomo before and look forward to the trip in August. “Last time I lost in the first round in KATA but, in sparring, I made it to the top eight competitors,” August said. “This time I am hoping to clean house.”
The best way to do well at the world championships is to leave the nerves behind. “You can prepare as much as you want but, if you don’t prepare for being under pressure, you’re not going to do anything right,” Citlali said. Danielle Lovato’s take on having a successful trip is not all about winning. “Our successful trip wouldn’t necessarily be winning,” Lovato said. “Our successful trip would be doing the best that we know we can.”