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Riha Matej: On the road to the top of the world

12-year-old Matej has to study in car as he pursues champion dream

Gulf News

Dubai: Just 12 years old and Czech Republic’s Riha Matej is already nursing ambitions of being a world champion.

“Karate is my life,” Matej told Gulf News after bagging the kata gold medal in the male under-14 category that had attracted 30 contestants from 12 countries. “I don’t mind doing anything to ensure this dream of being a world champion comes true.”

Encouraged by his father Zdenek, Matej’s love for karate was nurtured watching the popular childrens’ movie ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ as a seven-year-old.

But that was just the beginning for the cheerful Czech as the nearest club for practice is a good 125 kilometres away from home in the capital Prague. “I make the journey to and fro three times a week and the only time I get to study is when I am in the car,” Matej said.

“I don’t mind it at all as I love karate so much and am willing to sacrifice anything to be a world champion one day.”