On August 4, eight Virginia athletes traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich., to compete in the martial arts of karate at the State Games of America National tournament, which included sports from archery to yoga.
The athletes, Shannon Chapman of Callao, Kelly Rife of Bristol, Sensei Glenn Fallin of Heathsville, Matthew Pittman of Lancaster, Mark Dean of Vinton, Greyson Clark of Weems, James Conley of Heathsville and Rayshawn Veney of Warsaw qualified to compete in February 2016 in Lynchburg, reported Donna Clark.
The opening ceremony, which took place Friday evening at the Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, included a parade of more than 12,000 participating athletes representing all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada; a tribute to the Michigan State Police on their 100th anniversary; the U.S. and Canadian National Anthems; worldwide entertainers the Skyriders trampoline acrobat team; and the Oath of Athletes.
A highlight of the evening was the lighting of the ceremonial cauldron with Paralympic and Olympic athletes from as early as 1968 to the most recent games of 2016. Special appearances by Greg Meyer, 1983 Boston Marathon winner along with popular college, baseball, basketball and hockey, a sports commission and multiple university mascots added to the excitement. The evening concluded with pyrotechnics and a laser light show, said Donna Clark.
The competitions got underway Saturday morning, August 5, in the DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids.
Representing the Rising Dragon Martial Arts dojo in White Stone, Sensei Fallin, Pittman, Clark and Conley competed in open hand forms/kata, forms/weapons and kumite/sparring. Pittman earned a silver medal. Clark earned a bronze medal, both in open hand forms/kata.
Representing American Open Combat Karate dojo in Warsaw, Veney earned a gold medal in open hand forms/kata and a silver medal in forms/weapons. Chapman earned a bronze medal in forms/weapons.
Rife, representing the Stryker Martial Arts Academy in Bristol, brought home fourth in weapons and bronze medals both in open hand forms/kata and sparring.
Dean, representing American Freestyle Karate in Salem as well as Dragon Connections in Virginia Beach, earned a gold medal in open hand forms/kata.
Virginia was well represented by this fine group of outstanding athletes, both in their abilities and their sportsmanlike conduct, said Clark.