Kilmer golden at world karate championships


  Kilmer brings home a gold medal


   St. Thomas native represents Canada at the world karate championships


   Saturday, December 9, 2017

Kenzie Kilmer

  Kenzie Kilmer with her gold medal, from the World Karate championships.  (photo / courtesy Kilmer family)

By Rob J. Ross

ST. THOMAS - Kenzie Kilmer is a world champion.

The St. Thomas native won the gold medal, in the light contact 11-12 years old girls' division, for continuous sparring, at the World Karate championships (WKC), held in Orlando, Florida.

"It was the best experience I could have asked for. I really liked the training process. I trained 15 hours a week and I loved every minute. I was really happy to be there and representing my country," said Kilmer, a grade eight student, at Mitchell Hepburn elementary school. "I wanted to be a world champion ever since I started when I was four, but I never really thought it was possible."

Kilmer was in Orlando for 10 days last month, five dedicated to the competition featuring athletes from 15 countries. The remainder of the time included visits to Disneyland and Universal Studios.

Continuous fighting is sparring for a full two minutes. Five judges count points for each competitor and the one with the most points at the end of the fight wins. Contact to the head and mid-section is allowed, but not to the face or back and no below the belt strikes.

Kilmer defeated Mia Somerville, from Scotland, to advance to her final, to face a fellow Canadian, Allison Unruh. However, due to injuries suffered in the team fighting event, Unruh was unable to compete.

"I was warming up when my teammates told me she didn’t have any gear on," Kilmer said. "When I got to the ring, I found out she bowed out because her nose was so broken she couldn’t compete. She came to me after and apologized for not fighting. She said, she rather take a silver medal than a trip to the ER after the fight."

Kilmer understands the pain of a nose injury, having suffered one during a fight at the Canadian Nationals, where she won the bronze medal to earn her spot on the world stage.

"It was a very rough fight," recalled Kilmer. "I got five warnings and a point taken away. She got three warnings and a point taken away. I got my nose fractured and her nose got broken. That was my first face injury."

Not bad for a career about to reach 10 years in the sport. She also had an ankle injury a few years ago.

Kilmer's initial interest in karate was due to her aunt, MaryLynn Okkerse, being president of Martial Arts Canada.

"My parents (Ken and Tamara) brought me out to karate and I just loved it," said Kilmer. "I really like how you can just keep getting better. There is really is no limit. You strive to get better within yourself."

Kilmer who reached brown belt this past May, credits several people for her success, including sensei (coach) Patrick Grigg, also from St. Thomas.

"A lot of people have helped me. Sensei Mark Delvemans trained with me so much and is one of the sole reasons I have a gold medal. I couldn’t have done it without him," said Kilmer. "My mom drove me all over the place. I couldn’t have done it without her either."

Kilmer, who has a younger brother, Michael, still finds time to be involved with sports at her school, ranging from volleyball to slo-pitch.

Up next, for the now 13-year old, is training towards attaining her black belt and a long term goal of appearing at the Olympics.

"It (world's) was a good confidence booster and the training will be with me my whole career. I just started continuous fighting this year. It’s my favourite, so I'm going to keep going with that."