Local athlete used "Karate Kid" as a springboard to the medal standPosted: Updated:
In 2010, Jaycie Nelson went and saw the remake of "Karate Kid" in theaters. Afterwards she had the itch to try out karate and it didn't go away. Nine years after play fighting with her brother, karate has become a passion for Nelson.
The Derby native competes in Kata, where she is judged on power and correctness of her techniques, instead of sparring against another competitor.
"There's so many sports that the school provides and karate is something that really stands out and it builds respect and discipline," said Nelson.
Nelson quickly found success in the sport. In her first time competing at the USA's team trials in 2018, she won a bronze medal. Making the U.S. Junior National Team. Just last month, she won a silver medal at the same event and gets to represent USA for a second year.
"It's kind of crazy when I think about it. Just because even looking back like three years ago, if you would've told me I would've been on the junior national team I would've of believed it," said Nelson. "Even now it's really crazy, so when I tell people it doesn't seem like real still."
While representing the United States is a honor all on its own but you also get some perks. Like training at the Colorado Springs Olympic Center.
"It kind of felt like I was on a field trip at first," said Nelson. "I walked in and I was like 'oh I'm just here visiting' and the coaches were like no this is here for you guys. You're here to train."
It's an exciting time for Nelson and her teammates because karate makes its Olympics debut next summer in Tokyo.
"It will go really well because that's like the karate capital basically," said Nelson. "So hopefully it all goes well and it ends up being in Paris."
There are around 400 athletes from around the world competing in Kata for 10 spots in the Olympics. Nelson has a long way to go to be in contention for Team USA's Olympic squad but ever punch and kick is geared at getting her there.
"That's what my end goal is," said Nelson. "Even when it got announced that [karate] might not be in it, it's like keep training just as hard because there's still WKF, and there’s still the world champions and there’s still so many titles and chances to place. If the Olympics happen to be in it again, I'm still on that path."