Franklin Regional junior Smith earns spot at Junior World Karate Championships
Jared Smith of Murrysville will be seeking his second international medal in three months in the Junior World Karate Championships Oct. 25-29 in Spain.
Smith, 16, earned bronze in the Junior Kumite Male -68 kg division in the Junior Pan American championships in August in Argentina. His brother Riley, 15, placed third in Cadet Kumite Male -57 kg.
Both are members of the USA Karate Junior National Team. They helped the United States to second place to Brazil.
Dustin Baldis, chief instructor with the Pennsylvania Shotokan Karate Club in Penn and Leetsdale, where the siblings train, expects Jared to shine.
“With (his) recent Pan American success and his high placement in the last Junior World championships, I am expecting a strong run at a medal,” said Baldis, who is a national team coach.
Jared Smith came in ninth in Cadet Kumite Male -70 kg in the 2015 junior worlds in Indonesia, and believes he has improved.
“Over the past two years, my dedication to the sport has been tremendous,” he said. “I believe I can become a world champion, and my chance is right around the corner.”
Jared, a junior at Franklin Regional, said his medal in the Junior Pan American tournament did not come easy. Eighteen countries picked up awards.
“I would have to say that this was the most competitive medal I have ever earned,” he said. “Not only was (there) a lot at stake, my division included some of the top fighters in the world.”
His brother, a sophomore at Franklin Regional, found the competition tough, as well.
“Qualifying for the Pan American championships is hard enough as is,” Riley Smith said. “However, when you put a bunch of competitors (who) all want it in the ring together, (that's) when it really gets interesting.
“The question becomes who wants it most, and that is why this medal means so much to me.”
The two boys have competed for 11 years.
“They're coachable and focused,” Baldis said.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.