LONGMONT — Athena Allen has been practicing martial arts since she was 5 years old, but she took it to a new level in 2016.
On Oct. 25-30 in Carrara, Italy, the 16-year-old Silver Creek sophomore represented Team USA at the World Karate Association Unified World Championships. She reached the medal round in a grand total of nine events and brought home two gold medals at the tournament, which featured competitors from nearly 100 countries and included many different martial arts styles.
After it was over, Allen couldn't decide what was more exciting, the rush of winning two gold medals or the opportunity to represent her country on the national stage.
"This was my first time being on the USA Team so it was a great honor," Allen said. "I've competed at the national level for a while now and this was really special. To be selected was a huge honor to me because the people who run the team are huge role models for me. It was amazing to represent my country."
Allen, who has already won five Colorado state titles and seven national championships while competing in a karate circuit called the North American Sport Karate Association, added a silver and three bronze medals to her two world titles in Italy. She qualified at the regional level and was later selected to the 25-competitor national team by the coaches.
Reaching the world championships was challenging enough for Allen, but competing in so many events meant 12- and 14-hour days throughout the four-day tournament. On the final day of competitions, she participated in the finals for all nine of her events in a single day. She shined the brightest in the open traditional forms and musical weapons events, winning her age group in both.
"To compete at this level of martial arts was amazing," Allen said. "It was very different to be competing against other countries and new people. It was very eye-opening, even at the opening ceremony in the beginning, for sure. Getting through to the medal rounds was the first challenge and then I just had to focus on my competition to make it on the podium. Standing up there and hearing the anthem get played was an incredible experience."
Allen has a second degree black belt in taekwondo and competes in karate competitions. She will be looking to add more hardware to her collections when she competes in the karate national championships this coming weekend.
Allen is also a member of the swim and dive team at Silver Creek.