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Karate Champion Determined to Promote Inclusive Message

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A University of Worcester student who won gold and silver at the recent UK Open Karate Championships has set her sights on combining her passion for the sport and her university degree to help others benefit from the discipline.

Katinka Ernst, who has just started the second year of her Sports Coaching Science with Disability Sport degree, took home gold in Kata (form) and silver in Kumite (fighting) from the tournament, which was staged in Birmingham last month.

Having taken the sport up seven years ago, the medals are the latest in a long line of successes for Katinka, who has competed in countries throughout Europe.

“From the first day I walked into the dojo (the Japanese term for a training or competition venue) I have enjoyed every moment and never looked back,” she explains.

“I have been lucky enough to train with many World champions, travel to different countries and win various titles.”

Now, after her most recent success, Katinka says she is not only determined to continue her own personal development, but also to pass on her enthusiasm for the sport following the University of Worcester’s inclusive ethos.

“I teach karate and movement to kids with moderate to severe learning difficulties, such as Down’s Syndrome and autism, as well as those with physical disabilities,” she continues.

“I try to do this as much as my time allows, as it is a great joy and very rewarding. Seeing the improvements they make is amazing; I am a big believer that the sport can change their lives in many ways, just like it did for me.

“I hope to do some research in developing sporting programs to help these children and give them more life quality and the feeling of inclusion. Everybody deserves a chance.”

Worcester’s Sports Coaching Science with Disability Sport degree is a trailblazing programme which allows students to develop their knowledge and skills around coaching and inclusion.

Katinka says she believes that what she is learning in the classroom is having a direct impact on her performances at competitions.

“My degree is helping me to understand the concepts of planning, training and performance from the view of a coach, but also opening up my knowledge of how I can help myself to maximise my pathway as an athlete.

“As I train six days a week, it is not easy to balance training and studying, but I am very lucky to have support from the University’s Strength and Conditioning department, which helps me improve on some of my weaknesses.

“In the future, I want to continue the path of a karateka in many aspects, from competing, to deepening my knowledge and understanding of this great sport.”

The University of Worcester will be staging its next open events on October 31 and November 1. To find out more, visit the Open Day pages