P.E.I. athletes gearing up for karate's Canada Games debut

'I get to meet everyone and see how the rest of the country does karate,' says P.E.I. team member Joshbir Roy. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)
'I get to meet everyone and see how the rest of the country does karate,' says P.E.I. team member Joshbir Roy. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)

The countdown is on for the 2023 Canada Winter Games to be held in P.E.I. starting Feb. 18.

Inside Charlottetown Martial Arts, P.E.I. karate students are getting ready for their Canada Games debut.

"I've seen the stadium where we're gonna be," said Joshbir Roy, who will compete in kata.

"When we go in there, I'm pretty sure it's going to be brilliant, really. And I'm kind of scared, but I'm excited for it, too."

It's not just a new experience for the P.E.I. athletes. This is the first time for karate in the competition.

"It's the first time for Canada in either the Winter or Summer Games," said P.E.I. head coach Collin Affleck.

"Having an opportunity for these young athletes to participate in a multi-sport event similar to the Olympics, that kind of experience in their karate careers is pretty significant and I'm glad to be part of it."

'I can't wait'

According to Affleck, the province can send up to nine athletes to compete. Only five will be representing the province this time.

In addition to Roy, Mark Seemann, Jayce Mills, Bria Wong and Sarvessh Dhanasekar will also be there. All have been studying the sport for years.

"I was very excited [because] I never imagined that karate would be considered a sport in the Canada Games," said Dhanasekar. "I can't wait to be on the spot and wave the flag and cheer 'Go Team P.E.I.'"

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News

The team has been meeting at Charlottetown Martial Arts to practise for the past few months.

The sessions don't only focus on physical skills but mental preparation as well.

"It's the first sport that I've been in that I've actually felt passionate about," said Mills.

"It's not that popular here, if you haven't noticed. I haven't seen as many people here as I have in other provinces who participate and I think it would be really cool to be able to share it with the community."

Growing the sport

Erick Silva, Karate P.E.I.'s past president, agrees. He said there have been efforts for years to get karate included in the Canada Games.

"We are hoping the exposure at the Canada Games ... not only in P.E.I. but across the country  ... will give us opportunity to grow and develop a new generation of athletes," said Silva.

"Not only at the national level but at the international level, too."

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News

Silva and Affleck both hope to see karate included in future Canada Games as well.

"More coverage like this, I think, will bring more people to the sport, hopefully, and get more people involved and create that opportunity for others in the future," said Affleck.

The athletes understand what is ahead and have worked hard toward it, he said.

"I think they're gonna do very well," he said. "I think they've all been preparing very, very hard. I'm proud of them all, no matter what happens."