Valentyna Zolotarova, a former Ukrainian-born member of the Canadian national karate team who is now raising the Jamaican flag as a senior member of the island nation’s karate team, says her mission is to help improve Jamaica of this sport.
According to Zolotarova, Jamaica has talent and she would like to see more development in the sport.
“I would like to see more opportunities for our youth athletes to participate in international competitions and training camps, which are critical to their development,” she said.
“Regular participation in the Pan American Youth Championships, Youth World Championships and Youth Leagues, as well as Caribbean competitions on the surrounding islands, helps to achieve this vision and develop to a competitive level for the 2026 Youth Olympic Games and the 2028 Olympic Games.”
Another goal of Zolotalova is to increase the number of female athletes representing the country in karate competitions.
“In 2021, Jamaica had a chance to earn a spot in a women’s division at the Youth Pan American Games (but) unfortunately, we did not have athletes in the required weight and age categories and had to pass up this fantastic opportunity,” she said. Pass.
“I am saddened by the experience and have made it my goal to increase female participation.”
Zolotarova said that if more Jamaicans participated in karate, it could help them in their daily lives.
“Karate builds character, and that can transfer to any area of life,” she said.
To highlight her point, Zolotarova pointed to the myriad of opportunities she has had with karate.
“I’m pursuing an advanced coaching certification offered by the Jamaican Olympic Association and the American Sports Academy in partnership,” she said.
“I also completed a postgraduate degree in International Sport Management at the University of London with a full scholarship to the World Sports Academy and the Commonwealth Games Confederation. I am deeply grateful and responsible for these opportunities given to the Jamaican Olympic Association, and I think I am grateful for Jamaica Sport’s commitment to Contribution is my life’s mission.”
As a coach, Zolotarova said the process behind the improvements she was trying to achieve benefited from her experience.
“I look at the world of international competition from three different perspectives – athletes, coaches, referees,” she said.
“I competed as an athlete at the senior world championships in 2021, 2007 and 2005. I was a judge at the 2015 and 2016 world championships when I took a break from competing to become a mother.”
She coaches Jamaica’s 67kg men’s Khalil Gordon in her first world championships in 2021.
She said working with other coaches and having the support of the president of the Jamaica Karate Federation (JKF) has helped her continue to contribute to the progress of the national team.
“I’m driving the development of an annual training plan that provides feedback on the athlete’s technical performance and collaboratively monitors the athlete’s progress,” she said.
She said that although she is Jamaican, choosing to represent Jamaica came naturally to her because she fell in love with Jamaican culture at a young age, even before her visit.
Zolotarova will compete in next week’s Senior Pan American Karate Championships in Curacao.