Savannah Garcia already knew she was one of the best at karate in the nation.
The Port Huron Northern senior already won a World Karate Commission national championship in June, booking her spot on Team USA for last week’s WKC World Championships in Orlando.
She went into her first World Championships with an unknown feeling, but left having her name known by anyone who faced her. After a week of competition against the best 16-17-year-olds in the world, Garcia got to fly home with silver medals in team fighting and Korean style.
“The caliber of martial artists at this event was unreal,” Savannah’s father and coach, Christopher, said. “They were the best of the best from around the world, so for her to come home with two silver medals (was great).”
Savannah has been perfecting her technique tirelessly for about 14 years now, competing in national and international events her whole life. Last week’s tournament was certainly different than any other tournament she’s competed in, and Christopher even said it “dwarfed” the Junior Olympics.
“It was just a great experience all around,” Savannah said. “(The best part) was probably fighting with my team I was on. It was very different than what I was used to.”
Flying down she didn’t really know anyone else on Team USA, but once they all joined down there they created a strong bond from the get-go. During her fights she would have other team members – strangers for the most part – stop by to cheer her on.
“She’s a lot more humbled by it,” Savannah’s mom, Amy, said. “I know she’s proud of herself, but I know she’s very humbled by it … her feelings on having people from across the country become teammates down there and at times they’ll all of the sudden walk by and see a Team USA person, and they cheer you on (was very humbling).”
Unfortunately for Amy, she had to follow the tournament from home by relying on text messages, Facebook posts and the occasional live stream.
It was also a different experience for Christopher as well, who is usually coaching his way through the entire tournament. This time he got to sit back for a little bit since Team USA had their own coaches over the week.
“I got to do it all and that was pretty cool,” Christopher said. “Normally at these events I’m just the coach.”
Next up for Savannah is more training, this time for the Olympic qualifying process. There’s just one problem – it’s not an Olympic sport just yet.
As of now karate is on the short list of sports to add, and with the 2020 Olympics being held in Japan Christopher, Savannah and plenty of others believe it will make the cut.
Until then, Savannah can walk through the hallways of Northern knowing she is one of the best in the world at what she does.
“Not too many (classmates know),” Savannah said. “There’s people that know, but not every knows (of my accomplishments). I’m kind of fine without having everyone know. I’m just that mellow person.”