Olivia Deans shapes up for karate world title

Slight 19-year-old Olivia Deans isn't afraid to punch above her weight for karate glory.

The first-dan black belt has been training at GKR Karate, Kiama, for 12 years, but has been competing for just four.

She is the current black belt open NSW sparring champion, took gold at a national level for sparring in 2018, and in June will travel to London to represent Australia in competition.

"I used to say I would stop when I got my black belt," she said.

"But now I have the goal of being the best in my division.

"It gives me confidence - some people think girls can't do that. It's nice to prove them wrong."

She said competition success hadn't come easily, and it took commitment to overcome her initial nerves.

"I used to never place and be really nervous," she said.

"At the World Cup two years ago, I was ready to vomit from nerves - I had to run off the mat after my match. 

"I've learnt to control that. Now, I put my headphones on and block everything out. I just want it more."

Olivia Deans, 19, is a karate black belt and international competitor.

Olivia Deans, 19, is a karate black belt and international competitor.

Olivia is carrying an injury and can't train as much as she would like, however, she particularly enjoys sparring.

"I like the movement," she said.

"Ideally, I'd train four times a week, plus PT sessions for strength and some runs - about 10 hours a week, max.

"At the moment I can only train twice a week."

Balancing her training load with work at the Gerringong Bowling Club, and studying a Bachelor of Primary Education at the University of Wollongong isn't always easy - but Olivia said the support she had received from the community was immense.

"The bowling club, Rotary and Lions have all supported me," she said.

"I just asked if I could put a tin on the bar - I've been overwhelmed.

"That's given me the confidence to keep going."

The Illawarra will send nine competitors aged from 14 to 50 to compete. Olivia said although karate is an individual sport, having a team made all the difference.

"We support each other to compete at that level," she said.

Olivia will compete in the female open division, which includes competitors aged 18 to 34.

If you would like to contribute to her trip, you can visit: https://www.gofundme.com/help-olivia-represent-australia-in-london