Marie Kicks has overcome a family tragedy to become a gold medallist at the World Karate Championships at the first time of asking.
Just 12 hours before she was due to fly out to Slovenia for the competition, Haverhill-based Kicks’s dad, Alex Croucher, died suddenly at the age of 64.
Wracked by doubts as to whether she should go, Kicks was only swayed by the words of her mum, and now she is the proud holder of a gold medal and the title of World Champion after she and her two team-mates won the rotation competition in the veteran class for England A — beating England B in the final.
Kicks, who was first introduced to the sport by her late dad at the age of seven, said: “My mum said, ‘your dad wanted you to go so you are going.’
“I was in two minds whether to go but my mum said ‘you are going to go.’
“He was supporting me and was quite excited (about her going).”
The 43-year-old was selected for the England squad after coming third in the English Karate Championships in Sheffield in May, although being chosen for the fighting discipline of the sport came as a surprise because she normally competes in kata, a sequence of moves that are performed on your own on a mat.
In all, the competition in Slovenia had 46 participating countries and on their way to the final, England A had to beat the challenges of Italy and then Romania.
Having not competed in a world championship before, Kicks admitted her expectations were not that high.
But, with the help of her husband and fighting partner, Colin Kicks, and sensei and chief instructor 8th Dan Joe Anderson, she prepared so well she ended up surprising herself.
“To be fair my expectation wasn’t high because of the situation I’ve just gone through,” said Kicks.
“To fight for England is just phenomenal. It’s an achievement just to get there.
“I was happy with anything that I came back with to be fair but I didn’t want to lose.”
Having had a spell out of the sport, Kicks has been practicing karate for 21 years in all and last April she and her husband Colin set up the KMA Shotokan Karate School in Haverhill.
The not-for-profit club meets in the Clements Primary School from 6.30pm to 7.30pm and 7.30pm to 8.30pm on Tuesdays and at the Leiston Community Centre from 6.30pm to 7.30pm on Thursdays.
The club can be contacted at email@example.com or via its Facebook page.
Having tasted success in Slovenia, Kicks is now looking forward to competing in the European Karate Championships in Ireland next June.
l Anglia Ruskin University student Tecwyn Lee, from Steeple Bumpstead, has been selected to represent Great Britain at the European Iaido Championships in Berlin this weekend.
Tecwyn, 21, who trains at Kenyukan Suffolk in West Wickham, will compete in the Nidan category on Saturday.