Melaka State Executive Councillors,
Members of the Malaysia and World Karate Federations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It gives me great pleasure to be here with all of you today to mark the opening of the 7th World Karate Junior and Cadet Championships 2011.
2. Malaysia is incredibly proud to be hosting this year’s competition in Melaka, a small state with an enormous vision – and I would like to congratulate Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and the organising committee for all of their hard work in making that vision a reality.
3. Believe it or not this is the first time the Championships have been held in Asia, but karate of course originated in Japan so I think it’s fair to say it’s coming home!
4. This year’s Championships will see teams from no fewer than a hundred countries and five continents compete to take their place at the top – and I expect to see a healthy spirit of competition and many exhilarating moments as you pit your talents against each other over the coming days.
5. But if karate is about competition, about the desire to succeed and be the best, it is also about much more than that. Focus. Discipline. Perseverance. Picking yourself back up when you get knocked down: these are the life skills that karate teaches, and I have no doubt they will serve you well in years to come.
6. Because you know better than anyone that karate is about much more than the myth that you see in the movies, where the bad guy gets taken out in a single, effortless strike.
7. To get to that level takes years of practice – which is why every night of the week in karate schools and town halls in countries and communities across the world, young people like you come together to train, to practice and to strive towards their dreams.
8. I have no doubt that some of you will in years to come go on to take your place among the karate greats – and maybe you will even be able to represent your countries at the Olympics if karate is finally recognised as an Olympic sport.
9. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the tournament and your time with us in Malaysia – and that the spirit of the games and its motto, “Be the Legend”, will inspire you to be the best that you can be.
10. Good luck to all of you – and remember, in the words of Gichin Funakoshi, “the ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat but in the perfection of the character” and the art!