Patricia Wright was on top of the world, literally and figuratively Monday, flying home from Vancouver as a Canadian champion in her division at the Karate Canada championships.
“I did stuff I’ve never done before, even when I was more able bodied,” she said, speaking from a jet with more than 80 other athletes aboard. “I beat a guy – I’ve never beaten a guy.”
Patricia, 39, has fought a lifelong battle against epilepsy and the effects of a severe car accident six years ago.
She qualified as a member of Team Ontario through the Athletes With a Disability (AWAD) program.
A member of the Zanshin Dojo Karate Club, she had her sights set high, but knew the odds weren’t necessarily in her favour.
“People say when you get to the nationals for the first time, you just feel lucky to be there. It was my first time and I won. I’m on top of the world.”
Due to her epilepsy, Patricia isn’t cleared for contact so she earned her medal for being the best at executing her Kata, a series of detailed patterns of movements.
Daniel Whittal, the chief instructor at the club, is Patricia’s sensei (karate instructor) and coach.
“Patricia has worked so hard for this. I am very proud as her instructor and her coach to see her succeed at a national level. I hope that her resolve and dedication will inspire more youth in Chatham-Kent to train for competition at provincial and national level, and beyond!”
Patricia said being part of the Ontario team was an incredible experience.
“Having everyone cheering for you was great. We had 80 athletes and we won 40 medals.”
She said she was nervous before the competition. At one point in her career, anxiety made her abandon plans to become a black belt.
“I got more nervous as it got closer, but when I started, I felt better,” she said. “I saw the marks but it didn’t sink in to me that I won a gold medal until someone told me.”
She said she’s waiting to see if her division will be formally recognized, thus allowing her to compete in the world championships this fall in Austria.
In the meantime, she will keep training and hold on to the medal.
“It’s a bit heavy, but it’s full of memories,” she said.