Karate expert gears up for Tokyo 2020

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A karate expert from Holloway has set his sights on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Last June, the Olympic Committee announced that karate would be included as an Olympic sport for the first time. This announcement signalled a number of significant changes in how the sport is governed.

Alton Brown, who trains at Ringcross Community Centre in Holloway, has come a long way in 20 years. Growing up in Bethnal Green in East London, Brown started Karate when he was 11. Now he sees qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a real possibility.

“I want to go to the Olympics without a doubt, and I’ve started to put things in place to make that a probability,” he said.

But in order to be selected, he needs to enter the global top 8. He is currently ranked 55th.

“In terms of the Olympics nothing starts until 2018, that’s when I need to start hitting the top ten.”

Brown works full-time at the Southbank Centre as an Event Manager but trains five times a week at Veras Academy at Ringcross.

Last week Brown returned from the Karate1 Premier League in Rotterdam, where he made 5th place out of over 160 other athletes.

Competing as an under 75kg middleweight, the East Londoner fought seven rounds, winning five. He left feeling “disappointed but also like I had done well”.

He puts this success down to hard work. “I’ve been training five days a week, in and out of this place, intensively, since last August,” he said.

“There’s been more competition. The category’s getting bigger. The opponents are getting tougher. Instead of going through five rounds last week in Rotterdam, I had to go through seven.”

But despite the increased competition, Brown thinks that this is a good thing for the sport: “I know there can be a lot of politics in karate with the various governing bodies but I think this will make it more accessible.”

Raphael Veras, who runs Veras Academy, has been a close friend of Brown’s for almost 15 years. Only recently has he taken on the role as Brown’s coach.

“It’s been hard to step back and be the student to his teacher. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been tough but well worth it. Because his guidance has been amazing,” said Brown.

For now, Brown’s aim is to maintain momentum in his training and “keep his eyes firmly fixed on next year,” making sure he is prepared to perform well in the run-up to 2020.

“You have to be quite selective about what tournaments you go to and what you say no to. Otherwise you just find yourself constantly competing.”

Recently, Brown secured a deal sponsorship deal with PerformancePro, a personal fitness training company, which will provide him with the funds he needs to train hard. With only two and a half years until Tokyo, Brown will need to work hard if he is to make the cut.

“For me the community centre is vital. If it wasn’t here I don’t really know where the kids would go. The centres a bit of a lifesaver for them all.” – Alton Brown