First year student Nick Smith claimed a silver medal in the BUCS karate championships last weekend, despite not fully understanding the rules.
The 18-year-old England international usually fights under the Karate Union of Great Britain rules and has not competed under the World Karate Federation rules since he was 15 years old.
However, the Physics student performed well to win a silver medal in the Men’s Kata competition, losing only to talented fighter Reece Taylor, from London South Bank University.
Following the silver medal, Smith said he was delighted to win his first BUCS accolade.
He said: “I wasn’t really expecting to win anything, so I’m really happy to have come second. Reece Taylor was a very strong opponent in the final and I’d have to really improve to beat someone of that standard.”
Smith said it was sometimes a struggle to adapt to the rules of the competition.
He said: “In the BUCS rules you can’t kick towards the head which is different to my federation’s rules. I kept making kicks and being warned by officials, which meant I had points deducted.”
With a BUCS medal in the bag, Smith now hopes to be selected by England to compete in the ESKA European Championships in Austria in September and then go on to the WFKA World Championships in November.
He said: “I’m hopeful of representing England at both events so I’m looking forward to going out and performing well for my country.”
Smith currently trains at Leeds Karate Academy and admits that it is sometimes difficult to balance time between his sport and his studies.
He said: “At the moment I train twice a week in Leeds, but I’m going to have to start training at a club in Sheffield soon.
“It’s hard to manage my time between university work and training. And with the major championships coming up, it means I’ll have to take some time off uni to compete.”
Smith’s dreams of competing for Great Britain at the Olympic Games could also be boosted if karate is selected as a new sport by the International Olympic Committee when they meet in Copenhagen in October.
Karate has been shortlisted as one of seven sports which could be introduced at the 2016 games, with baseball, golf, rugby union, softball, squash and roller-sports the other contenders.
Smith said: “The Olympic vote is going to be massive for karate, because at the moment it isn’t valued enough as a sport and falls behind the other martial arts.”