MEET SENNAH KILVINGTON; ‘I’ll FIGHT MY WAY TO MY DREAMS’
17 year old Karateka, Sennah Kilvington, from Australia is the first athlete to receive a Peakz sponsorship. Sennah has been super dedicated to her sport since she was 10 years old. Her devotion and persistence are tremendous, and the ambitions are to always reach the top. It makes her a true athlete. We are very happy to collaborate with Sennah. It is an honor to be able to support her during such an important phase in her karate career. Today the Junior World Championships start in Chile. Sennah is participating in the -53kg Junior Kumite for females. Learn all about Sennah and the road to the top in a young athlete’s life with the Q&A below.
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MEET SENNAH KILVINGTON
Date of Birth: 13/12/2001
Hometown: Gold Coast, Australia
Your karate academy: Shotokanfit Academy of Martial Arts
When did you start karate?
When I was seven, my mum put me into a dance class and hope that I would like it. However, when she came to pick me up, she found out I had skipped dance class to join a karate club across the road. There, I found my passion as I looked up to older kids and worked hard to be as good as them. It has been over 10 years since I joined karate.
When did you discover you really have a talent?
From the very first time I put on a gi and tied a white belt on, I knew that karate was the sport for me. Instantly, I fell in love with everything about this sport, how it is about the athletic performance as well as the strategy. After training for a while, I first discovered that I was good at it when I was around 11 years old as my coach put me into an 11-13 years mixed-gender division. During practice, there were several matches and I had to go against a huge 13-year-old boy. Despite my size, I fought really hard and I ended up winning by a lot, surprising my parents :-).
When did you go professional?
This is my second year of being in the Australian team and competing in international events. Ever since I joined the team, I have been given a huge number of opportunities to train and compete in a whole new level.
What do you love about your sports career?
My journey of being a karate athlete has taught me so much about myself, such as my strengths and weaknesses, and how hard I can push myself, physically and mentally. My favorite thing about the sport is to travel and meet like-minded people from all around the world. The fact that I can fight my opponents on the mat and still be best friends off the mat, demonstrates how respectful and peaceful karate athletes are.
Not only have I been lucky enough to travel around the world for international competitions, I have also traveled the world to train too. To push myself to become a better athlete, I attended a training camp in Umag, Croatia where I learnt great lessons from multiple world champions. I also love how I can train alongside many athletes around the world. Beside Croatia, I also trained in Japan for two months during the summer holidays which really helped me grow as an athlete.
Who helped you the most to get this far already?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have the greatest support network. My coaches at Shotokanfit has been taking good care of me not only as an athlete, but also as a person. On top of this, I know that my family has sacrificed so much to ensure that I can take all the opportunities to be my best self. They support my goals so much and I would not be where I am today without them.
What are you proud of so far?
One of my proudest moments is last year when I represented Australia and won a gold in the individual and team event at the Oceania Karate Championships. It was my first international competition and it felt great to win with my teammates cheering me on.
What are your biggest challenges?
To be honest, my biggest challenge in competitive karate is cutting weight in order to fight in my category. At the competition, I fight in the lightweight category (-53 kg) and the week or two leading up to the weigh-in can be mentally and physically hard.
What are your biggest achievements?
I have been fortunate to experience numerous national and international competitions as a karate athlete. These experiences have allowed me to achieve a world ranking of 6th place, win two gold medals in the Oceania Karate Championships (2018), place third in the Pacific Cup (open weight category) and win multiple Australian National Championships. The highlight of my career so far was last year when I competed at the first ever Youth Olympic Qualification Tournament for karate which was held in Croatia in 2018. I also competed at the Youth League in Croatia, a world-class event. I have been selected to represent Australia again at the Junior World Championships in Santiago, Chile which is super exciting.
Did you have a sponsor before? If yes, how did that help you?
I am currently an ambassador for three companies: p3 Sports Recovery (a recovery centre), Optimisationhub (a sport psychologist) and rdksport (sport talent management). They help me out by offering me their services which has been awesome. Having a team take care of my physical, mental and social health without having to worry about the money for these services has been a huge relief and makes me feel supported.
Is it difficult to get the right funding in your sports?
Despite the fact that karate now has become a part of the Olympics, karate has very limited funding, especially in Australia, as it is not one of the major sports. I know that many of my teammates struggle to pay for their own flights and accommodation as they travel for international competitions.
Why is it difficult to get funding?
It is hard to get sponsored since karate doesn’t get much publicity. So, most of our travel and competition costs are left to our own devices. As a twin, my family has had to juggle both of our finances at the same time. I work a part-time job to try and help with the costs of my sport, but it is hard to balance it with karate and school.
What is your dream in sports?
I think any athlete’s dream is to represent their country in the Olympics and win a medal. Yet, with karate most likely being taken out of the 2024 Olympics, it is a tough dream. A more realistic dream, and one that I would like to aim for is to medal at the World Karate Championships, the most prestigious competition for a karate athlete. To win gold for Australia would be the ultimate dream.
Will you combine it with school?
I’m in my last year of high school now and it definitely hasn’t been easy to balance all my travels and training with study. Already this year, I’ve attended the Australian open and school age cup in Sydney, Nationals in Tasmania, the Pacific Cup in New Caledonia, National training camps, and fight-offs for worlds in Canberra. Now that I’m in Chile for junior worlds, missing a further 2 weeks of school. I have to work really hard to catch up on the work I miss and get assessments done.
Next year, I plan to go to University and study physiotherapy. Being a karate athlete has taught me a lot about the body and I’m excited to study it further.
Next up is the world championship in Chile, how excited are you? How did you prepare? And how is the competition?
I’m beyond excited for the junior world championships in Chile as it is my first worlds. I’ve been training really hard towards it and am feeling ready thanks to my coaches who have really helped me on my road towards Chile. Although I know that there are tough competitions out there as many top athletes will come and give it their all, I want to prove to myself that I can do it. I plan to leave nothing on the mat and give my opponents everything that I’ve got. I will fight my way to my dreams.
How many days before the tournament did you arrive in Chile?
I arrived in Chile on the 16th of October and the tournament starts on the 23rd, it left us a week to train and adjust to the time difference, overcome jetlag and feel our best. There are 26 athletes going from Australia along with a few Aussie coaches.
How do you think this sponsorship with Peakz will help you in your career?
This sponsorship with Peakz will help me and my family so much. These past two years have been hectic with travelling and competition costs and this sponsorship is exactly what I need to ensure I can keep competing at a high level. Without it, I would have struggled to pay my way to more world-class events. I plan to use the sponsorship money from Peakz on my flight to Chile for the Junior World Championships. It is obviously very costly. I am so grateful for the team at Peakz for their generosity.
What do you think of the mission to make funding easier for athletes?
Peakz’s mission for funding would allow athletes to focus solely on their sport as it takes a major weight off the stress involved in travel, competition and training fees. It breaks my heart to see athletes with talent not be able to reach for their full potential because they are restrained by the cost of reaching for their goals. I believe that everyone deserves the equal opportunity to strive for success which is why I 100% support Peakz and they’re mission.
Are you also going for the top in your sports? Support the mission for easier sports funding here. So that you can use the Peakz Scoutfunding platform before the summer of 2020 to get funded.