Local athlete ready to battle the nation’s best

Faith Collier is a black belt and has been practicing karate for 10 years. 

Faith Collier and Ryan Crocker are ready to take on the nation’s best during the 2022 Karate Canada National Championships July 1-3 at the Mary Brown’s Centre. She says training regularly keeps her performance consistent. Sakib Ibn Rashid Rhivu/Kicker

Sakib Ibn Rashid Rhivu

Faith Collier is getting ready for her next fight. She is calm and her eyes are focused.  No opponent scares her when it is time to prepare for the upcoming national championships.

Karate Canada will hold its 2022 Junior and Senior National Championships July 1-3 at Mary Brown’s Centre in St John’s. After being cancelled for the last two years because of COVID-19 restrictions, 530 athletes are expected to participate in the event. 

Almost half of those athletes will be female. 

“I remember always feeling a little bit insecure being the only girl in my karate class,” Collier said. “Now I teach here and there are a lot more girls. Sometimes there (are) more girls than there are guys.”

Because of this, Collier says more girls in her class are capable of self-defense. She considers it the best gift she has got from karate. She says her family feels more secure when she is in public because she is a black belt.

Her coach, who is also the president of Karate Newfoundland and Labrador, Nathaniel Besso, says the difference between the general public and a karate athlete is confidence.

“We do see (a) more confident person after they leave the class,” Besso said. “The girls certainly hold their own.”

Athletes at the Avalon Karate Club are getting ready for nationals. Eleven members of the club are top ranked provincially in their respective age category. Sakib Ibn Rashid Rhivu/ Kicker

Collier gets emotional while talking about karate and her journey. It hurts her when people think their belts are merely bands of colour. She says there is no exact time period when someone can achieve a black belt. It took her 10 years to get that belt after starting in Grade 3.

“It’s definitely not just a colour,” said Collier. “It’s definitely a lot more work than people think. I think people are starting to recognize that a bit more, which makes me happy.”

Collier says the perspective and support of people outside karate is important for growth, especially for female athletes. Her family and friends, she says, supported her throughout her journey. And it hasn’t been an easy journey. She lost her father in 2015, but her mother is always by her side. 

Apart from the regular training, she is also doing mental training under Besso’s guidance. She also watches videos about competition pressure and how to deal with it. She says it helps her stay calm and focused during a match.

“We visualize ourselves in a match,” said Collier. “We visualize the perfect point, the perfect match. Obviously, we’re not going to get all the perfect points, but we (visualize) getting our way up to gold.”

Confident with his athletes’ abilities, Besso says he does not care about the medals. He only cares that his athletes give 100 per cent.

“I tell my athletes, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the ring, as long as we go in there and we do our job and fight to the best of our ability,” Besso said.

Collier has a similar approach when it comes to reaching the podium. She is just proud to fight in her first nationals on home turf. She says this competition can change people’s views about karate. Watching the country’s biggest karate stars from up close may change everyone’s perspective, she says.

“There’s so much more to karate than just fighting, punching and kicking,” Collier said.

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