By CASS MARRETT
Queenstown’s queen of karate, Mackenzi Jackson, 16, is heading offshore next month to represent New Zealand at the Oceania Karate Championships in New Caledonia.
The Wakatipu High School student is one of 39 selected NZ athletes and will be competing in both kumite and kata disciplines.
‘‘There’s two types of karate,’’ Mackenzi says.
‘‘With kata it’s about how strong, how you look, whereas the fighting [kumite] is like scoring points on the body and head.’’
Athletes are selected based on several factors, including results from competitions — athletes must place consistently in the top three at particular events — and attendance at regional and national trainings as well as fitness tests where Karate NZ can watch and assess ability.
Her mum originally got her into karate when she was 11, because she thought it would be good for self-defence, but Mackenzi soon became attracted to the discipline and competitive side of the sport.
She trains four to five times a week and often travels as far as Auckland, Christchurch and Australia to train.
Mackenzi says she’s excited and has high hopes for New Caledonia.
‘‘I just want to do my best, but hopefully I come out with a couple of medals.’’
Once there, Mackenzi will be put into a category based on age and gender and face off against her competitors through a series of random draws.
She’s quite certain the trip will be all business, but is hoping to get out to a beach, at least.
‘‘I’m excited about going somewhere warmer,’’ she says.
After the competition, Mackenzi hopes to continue competing internationally, and is currently teaching younger children karate at her home dojo, Samurai Karate Queenstown.