British Karate Federation

Olympic Qualification Tournament

Performance Director Gary Anderson reflects on the Olympic Qualification Tournament

“Probably the most brutal and intense Olympic qualification process I have ever experienced in all my years in Olympic sport” was the way Performance Director Gary Anderson described the journey for the British Karate athlete’s who competed in Paris this weekend. As it stands GBR will have no representation in Tokyo, but that’s not a reflection on the performances of the athletes. With the merged weight categories and low numbers of athletes in each category it was a huge ask for any athlete and the qualification lists shows with the absence of world champions and leading world karateka how difficult a process this has been for everyone. The sheer number of athletes in each of the categories and the quality of these athletes here in Paris was staggering.


Anderson reflected by saying “this group of athletes were tasked with two things, how do they want to be remembered ? and to have to no regrets, only they can answer these questions, and in their own way they are processing this right now. We came agonising close to being in a qualification slot on day 1 and we had performances that some athletes may feel were not their best performance, but at this level that is the sport, the margins between winning and losing are tiny. What I can say, with certainty, is that every single athlete engaged fully with the performance programme set and wanted to give their all for their country, their commitment and their attitude cannot be faulted. I am extremely proud of every single one of them and will support them the very best way I can to take positivity from this experience.


We are all naturally disappointed and will reflect on the performances over the coming days, we will review and learn. Already some of these athletes are looking to their preparation plans for the World Championships later this year, their appetite to be the very best athlete they can be has not diminished, if anything it has got stronger.


Athlete Natalie Payne stated:

"It was such a great competition, and great to be around such positive and inspirational people, who have the same drive and goals as you. Win or loose we have been together as a team, which some people will never understand. Thank-you to all the staff for their continued support, in this crazy time of competing. We have all done our best, just that our best on this occasion just wasn’t enough, that’s sport"!







Athlete Carla Burkitt who narrowly missed out on qualification finishing 5th, gave her view of the event:


 "I am very disappointed to fall just short of qualification for the Olympics, finishing in 5th place overall. However, I am happy with my performance on the day considering the many challenges I have had to face during my preparation for this event".







BKF President Roger Williams was full of praise for the squad and how they have coped in the last twelve months, "it has been a really difficult time for everyone but our squad did the very best in the circumstances, UK Sport supported us and gave us the opportunity to compete in Paris, I know that Gary Anderson and his staff will be disappointed but nobody feels it more than these athletes, however they can hold their heads high and just to get selected for the Olympic Qualification tournament was a huge achievement.


The Great Britain programme is evolving, and with the future editions of the Youth Olympic Games and the European Games on the horizon the British Karate Federation is developing pathways to support the athletes in the qualification process for these events. The new Board of Directors have given me the assurances that this will be the primary focus of the BKF”.


Gary Anderson added a final line;
“As I said to all the athletes this morning this may be the end of a chapter but it is not the end of the book”.