Kids kick butt at champs

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Karate kids: Green belt Gemma Thomson, left, and brown belt Mackenzi Jackson practise their skills

Two Queenstown youngsters have kicked their competitors to the curb to win podium places at the New Zealand Open Karate Championships.

Mackenzi Jackson, 13, claimed silver in kata (display) and gold in kumite (fighting) for her age group at the event held last month.

Another fierce competitor, Gemma Thomas, 10, took home bronze in both categories.

The girls’ success comes after the unexpected death of their competition coach, much-loved Queenstown Sensei Chris McGregor, who died of a heart attack last July in Japan.

Mackenzi’s mum, Nikki, says it’s been a difficult year for the karate students, but they’ve stayed motivated thanks to the support of their other coach, Sensei Pat Quaid.

“Mackenzi told me she went out there and won it for him [Sensei Chris],” Nikki says.

Managing to “keep the nerves down”, Mackenzi felt proud to perform so well.

“I was so happy and excited to win.”