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"Everyone I've met on the tatami has taught me something"

Sara Hägge
Last year, she surprised everyone, including herself, by reaching the final and winning the European Karate Championship. We talked to her during her move to London about this success and future plans.
At what age did you start Kyokushin? Why did you choose this martial art?
— I started training karate when I was 15 years old, my whole family was training Kyokushin so it was an easy choice.
Your brother is also engaged in Kyokushin. Which of you was the first to start studying?
— My brother was first! He started when he was 8 years old.
Do you always get to support each other in competitions?
— Yes! We always support each other at competitions and I love watching him fight. Now we live in different cities but we spar together when we get the chance.
Kyokushin Family
You train in Gothenburg. Tell about your dojo and your coach.
- I recently moved to London but my home dojo is Gothenburg karate Kai. Shihan Collins is the chef instructor and sempai Jörgen Ghose has been my coach since my very first tournament. It's a big dojo where we're all friends and help each other to improve.
Tell about your training. How do they pass, what is hardest for you?
— Training depends on season, I don't keep the same schedule over the year. But there is always a mix of karate, running and strength training. When I get a chance I also do yoga for extra flexibility and mindfulness. I guess the hardest part for me is running intervals. I just don't like it but interval running is really good for stamina so it's worth it.
Tell about your diet, how do you follow your diet?
— I love food! But during season I try to eat whole food and cut the junk. Eating clean gives me more energy to train and help me feel rested.
What fight did you remember most in your career? Do you have any principal rivals?
— I remember all my fights. I wouldn't say I have any rivals and I don't think rivals is a part of kyokushin, everyone I've met on the tatami has taught me something.
You went a long way towards winning the European Karate Championship 2017. Tell about your way to the first place.
— To be honest I was surprised to even reach the final. My preparations for the championships were not optimal and I had to fight very good fighters to reach the final. But after the semi-final I was free from injuries, which is rare. My team mate told me to make the best of the opportunity and enjoy the fight. The final was a long and very even fight, we fought full time before the referees made a decision. I had to pinch myself to realise I wasn't dreaming when the fight was over.
What do you want to achieve in Kyokushin now?
— I've always wanted to participate in the World Championships in Japan. But I want to keep learning and maybe coach some day.
Tell about your hobbies outside a tatami.
— I like to be active and try new things. This summer me and my boyfriend tried surfing which was lots of fun! I also love reading and painting.
Sara Hägge hobby
Short questions:
What is the point of defeat?
To learn!
Kyokushin taught me ...
To never give up!
The best place on Earth?
The archipelago of Gothenburg.
It seems to me that Kyokushin in 10 years ...
Will be one big family.
We are sure that her further victories will no longer be so unexpected – she is quite capable of winning the European Championships more than once and at least taking part in the World Championships. OSU!
Photo: Courtesy of Sara Hägge