- middle-level punch
- 明かす（後出 confide は打ち明ける）
- 優勝する、勝ち取る（後出 victory は優勝）
- Japan ... Championships
- 全日本空手道選手権大会（後出 World Senior Championships は世界空手道選手権大会）
- Olympic Games
- オリンピック（後出 games もここでは同意）
- give back
- merely ～
- become confident
Using her split-second middle-level punches as a powerful weapon, karate champion Uekusa Ayumi has made herself well known on the world stage. She holds the world No. 1 ranking in the women's over-68 kilogram class — the heaviest weight division in karate.
Uekusa, 27, began learning karate in her third year of elementary school, and later was a university champion. But she divulges, "I was a negative thinker. I was scared to lose." When she was in university, she failed to achieve her goal of winning the Japan Cup Karatedo Championships. "I was going to give up karate after I graduated," she confides.
Around that time, however, the sport of karate became a candidate for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games. Her trainer prodded her on, asking, "Why don't you give back to karate what you've gotten from it?" Uekusa decided to keep competing with the goal of participating in the games. She declared that she would pursue victory on the "dream stage," which brought her more public attention. This was merely what she had been told to say, but it became the cue for her to change. By entering the public spotlight and focusing on achieving the dream she had told people about, her negative thinking naturally started to fade. "If your words change, your actions will change," she says.
In 2015, Uekusa won her first Japan Cup Karatedo Championships. She became confident that she could turn the new attention into a source of power, and went on to win the 23rd World Senior Championships in 2016.
Uekusa's birthday is on July 25, the day the Barcelona Summer Olympic Games opened in 1992, and the day the Tokyo Olympic Games will begin in 2020. For Uekusa, the Olympics are her "destiny."
"I want to win a gold medal at the Olympics held in Japan and bring even more excitement to karate," commented Uekusa, setting her sights on achieving the honor in the country where karate was born. (Story by Yoshinaga Yasuo, related story on page 16)
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