Wagga junior impresses world champ

THERE is no stopping Wagga junior karate sensation Hana Sawal.

The incredibly gifted junior athlete has added another impressive achievement to her sporting resume, after returning victorious from the prestigious New South Wales State Karate Championships.

The championships, which attract the best athletes from metropolitan and regional centres, were held in Sydney on March 31.

Competing in the highly-competitive under 10 years girls kata division, nine year old Hana blew the competition away to secure a gold medal – and the honour of the state champion title.

Thrilled coach Sawal Salleh revealed Hana’s prodigious skill had attracted the praise of current karate world champion Kristina Mah. “Hana won in the finals, to be crowned the NSW State champion,” Sawal said.

“Hana performed an advance kata in the finals – which is known as Paiku – and, after the event, the current Karate World Champion Kristina Mah came up and

commented that the kata was executed so well for her age that ‘it sent chills down her spine’ while she was watching it being performed.”

Hana has been selected to represent NSW at the National Championships in August. To prepare for the hotly-contested competition, Hana will compete in a number of tough international and national events.

Next week Hana, and 12 other competitors from the Shinwa-Kai Karate Club, will fly to Singapore to compete in an international karate competition which attracts competitors from Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Love of karate sees old and young bond

THEY live 6000 kilometres apart and are separated by 52 years in age, but they share a focus which gives them a special bond.

Richard Ng, who is recognised around the world as a master of his craft, and Hana Sawal - a tiny Wagga schoolgirl - are both driven by their love of karate.

At 60, Richard has done it all in a sport in whichhe is known as a shihan. He has been a mentor for 45 years, is a seventh dan black belt and the national coach of the Singapore team. At the other end of the spectrum, Hana is only eight years old and in the early stages of her karate career.

But the Henschke Primary School pupil is already making experts - including Shihan Richard - sit up and take notice.

"I think Hana will one day represent Australia and compete against Singapore," Shihan Richard said in Wagga yesterday.

"What she needs is tournament exposure overseas.

"She will be coming to Singapore next year to compete, which will help her progress."

Hana's eyes light up at the prospect. "I would love that to happen," she said.

Shihan Richard's association with Hana's family goes back a long way.

He coached Hana's father Sawal Bin Salleh in Singapore from the time he was 10.

"I can remember Sawal from when I first started coaching him 34 years ago," Shihan Richard said. "He loved his karate so much. It's my passion ... and Hana's as well."

Sawal is now a coach in Wagga but has called on his old teacher for a hand this week.

Shihan Richard was only too happy to make the long trip to the City of Good Sports via Sydney, where he gave Hana some last-minute advice before she claimed a silver medal at the Commonwealth Karate Championships at the weekend.

Karate kid gets her kicks
21 Jul, 2010 Riverina Leader

DON’T be fooled by her small stature and sweet smile – Hana Sawal packs a mean punch.

The seven-year-old loves playing with toys and colouring in, but she is also making a name for herself as a karate kid.

“I train three times a week and learn about punching, kicking and blocking,” she said.

Hana is under the guidance of her father Sawal Salleh, who runs the Shinwa-Kai Karate Club in Wagga.

The club cleaned up in the Tournament of Champions in Sydney, coming home with five samurai sword prizes.

Hana was the star of the show as she took on bigger competitors up to the age of nine.

The year 2 pupil at Henschke Primary progressed through three rounds of the girls’ kata senior belt category to be crowned champion. In the second round Hana came up against clubmate Jasmin Plane, who ended up in fourth position.

Shinwa-Kai member Angela Becroft turned in an exceptional performance to finish second – beaten by just one point – in the female sparring event.

Other club members to achieve placings in senior belt categories were Margaret Plane (adult female kata), Hayley Stimpson (girls kata 12 and 13 years) and Thomas Garvie (boys 10 and 11 years).

Although she works hard, Hana views karate as “just some fun”.

“I like making new friends and my dad is a good teacher,” she said.

Sawal Salleh, who moved with his family from Singapore to Wagga two years ago, has more than 100 members ranging from five years old to their 50s in his club.

“Karate provides fitness, discipline and confidence,” he said. “And there’s also the social side, meeting different people.”

Hana upstages experienced rivals

18 Mar, 2010 Daily Advertiser

By Stephanie Muir

WAGGA'S newest junior karate star has shone at the Sydney All Styles Karate Cup, stunning older competitors to steal the Girls Kata gold medal.

At just seven years of age, and competing against rivals two years older than herself, Hana Sawal has shocked the crowd to take her first medal at the Cup.

Proud Wagga Shinwa-Kai Karate Club coach Sawal Salleh was yesterday thrilled with young Hana's result, admitting natural ability and dedication were two key factors in her success.

"She has done very well to win the gold medal," Salleh said.

"What happened is she is in the advanced category and there was no category for her to compete in her age group, so she has had to compete in the nine years and under competition."

A team of nine karate students from the Shinwa-Kai Karate Club represented Wagga at the Sydney All Styles Karate Cup.

Incredibly, despite eight of the nine students competing for the first time, the talented contingent brought home an impressive two gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

Rising star Angela Becroft secured the club's second gold medal in a nail-biting female sparring final.

Trailing three to one against her favoured opponent, Becroft pulled out all stops in the final stages of match to record a stunning victory.

"Sparring is done against one other opponent for two minutes and uses shin pads and gloves and the aim is to try and score points by punching and kicking," Salleh said.

"Angela was down by points but she did not give up and her persistence ended up paying off.

"She got the points she needed in the last 20 seconds of the final, her last two points actually came in the last two seconds.

"It was very exciting."

The Wagga team was in the minority at the championships, with Salleh admitting the majority of entrants were from Sydney-based clubs.

"There were around 200 competitors at the championships," he said.

"Mostly, they were from Sydney; we would have been one of the clubs that would have travelled the furthest to compete."

According to Salleh the Wagga club continues to go from strength to strength.

"The club is going very well," he said.

"In one year we have gone from 50 members to 80 members, and it is continuing to grow."

HomeInstructorsClassesPhoto GalleryNews and EventsMore PhotosNews linksArticlesSponsorsContacts