CARLSBAD— While most teenagers were spending their summers soaking up the sun, 14-year-old Kacie Pou was training three to four hours a day to compete in the Olympic sanctioned Pan American karate tournament in Lima, Peru.
“This summer was a whirlwind,” said Marci Pou, Kacie’s mother.
Her hard work and dedication paid off. She won a gold medal in her division against competitors from 10 different nations on the USA Junior National Karate Team.
“When I won, I felt on top of the world,” said Kacie Pou.
This was Pou’s first time in the Pan American competition.
She has been practicing karate since the age of five, according to Marci.
Her father, John Pou, was a police officer in North Carolina and thought martial arts would be a good way to subdue criminals without the use of force, said Marci.
He then got the whole family involved in order to teach them self-defense for nights when he was away on duty.
Kacie has been practicing ever since and won the gold medal in six consecutive national competitions.
She spent a week in Lima with her older brother, Chase Pou and her sempei, Josa Cortez, of the East Lake Dojo.
“I trained so much for it, and then when I finally got there, it went by so fast and when it was over, I was like, wow, its over so quickly,” said Kacie.
Kacie said it’s great having her brother involved.
“It’s a lot (more fun) with him with me. Even if he’s not competing he comes to tournaments and watches me and coaches me. He’s always been there and he’s a great training partner,” said Kacie.
She and her family were able to raise $4,600 on GoFundMe to cover traveling expenses for the tournament.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without it,” said Marci.
Marci said she and her husband were willing to do whatever it took to send her to the competition, including taking out a home equity loan, she said because “it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for a 14-year-old young lady.”
Kacie said one of the obstacles was getting a passport with such short notice.
“In the beginning, I didn’t have a passport,” said Kacie, “so I had to get an expedited one really quickly or else I wasn’t going to get to go on the trip. That was scary.”
Kacie trains at the Japan Karate Organization.
Karate is not on an Olympic sport although Marci is hopeful it will someday be recognized.
“(Karate) has been on the voting ballot the last two times, and (it) got second place to golf two votes ago and … was beat out by squash this last time,” said Marci.
Kacie also plays soccer, which her mom said, really helps her cardio.
She said during sparring, her competitor will visibly get tired and Kacie is still going strong, thanks to her strong cardio.
Now that summer is over, Kacie is back in school at Carlsbad High School and catching up on the week she missed for the competition.
She said she’s going to continue training just as hard and try to get into Junior World.