By JOSEPH ARTHUR
The chance of an Olympic Games debut in Tokyo next year has grown for Isaac Hoshi, after the karate young gun claimed gold at Australian National Championships.
The 21 year-old Monash University student said he was relieved to last month improve on his bronze medal from 2018’s Australian Nationals.
“Last year I finished with a bronze medal and with that result I wasn’t too happy,” Hoshi said.
“It  was my first time at nationals in Australia and maybe I just got a bit nervous or something, so I decided to try and work as hard as I could for nationals this year.”
After growing up in New Zealand, Hoshi has spent the past three years competing in Australia and studying science at Monash, with aspirations to represent New Zealand in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Hoshi said he has enjoyed the welcoming environment and support from his Australian competitors.
“The victory was my first ever gold in Australia in the Nationals and it feels a bit weird because I’m a New Zealander, but at the same time everyone has been so welcoming,” he said.
“When I got the gold medal, I wasn’t happy because I received it for the sake of the medal, but it sort of showed the support and everything that just came with achieving the result.”
Competing in the Kata division, a karate discipline focused on performance and technique opposed to fighting, Hoshi said he viewed his sport as a way of life.
“Usually with a sport you just focus on that sport with your physical and mental preparations but with Karate it’s a better way of life,” Hoshi said.
“It motivates me to improve myself as a person rather than just competing for the sake of a gold medal.”
Qualification for Tokyo is highly competitive but Hoshi said he was confident in his own ability and believes he has what it takes to compete with the best.
“It’s very tough because karate is going to be a sport for the first time in the Olympics… they’re not doing one person per country, it’s more Oceania overall,” Hoshi said.
“Out of both fighting and performance, only the top two highest ranks – one male and one female – get to go.”
Hoshi said his preparation and upcoming international competitions will help his chances of representing New Zealand in Tokyo.
“If I try to get the points in upcoming international events, maybe I might be able to slide into that one male spot," he said.
“I’ve got mental trainers, an athletic coach, I’ve got my karate teacher and I feel like the environment and the support I have from Australia is quite good, so I feel very confident with my support and preparation for these competitions.”
Hoshi said it would be “a privilege and very humbling” to represent his home country at an Olympic Games
“Growing up in New Zealand, it would just be really overwhelming and I’d be really, really happy,” he said.
As a 16 year-old, Hoshi was fortunate to meet former Kata division World Champion Takashi Katada.
Hoshi said his competitive drive – which likely turned into his Olympic aspirations – grew quickly during his time under the tutelage of the former World Champion.
“After visiting his [Katada’s] University, all the students were really good, and that sort of motivated me and pushed me to improve my craft,” he said.
“From then, my level just escalated and I started competing internationally.”