Karate Kid

Mesa Verde Middle School student John-Michael Rivera has been making his Rancho Peñasquitos community proud by excelling in school and karate. Last June, John-Michael competed at the AAU National Karate Championships in Raleigh, NC, where he received gold medals in both kumite (sparring) and kata (forms). He is a black belt, and has won the AAU National Karate Championships two of the last three years. He also competed last July at the USA Team Trials in Greenville, SC, where he received a gold medal and earned a spot on the United States Junior National Karate team. “I felt really surprised and happy,” he said about making the team. In August, he traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to compete against the top junior athletes from North, Central, and South American countries in the Pan-American Karate Championships. He was the youngest member of the junior national team, and ultimately earned a bronze medal.

“I felt really surprised and happy.”

Karate has recently been recognized as an Olympic sport, and will make its first appearance at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. John-Michael has his sights set on someday making it to the top. “I hope one day in the future that I will qualify for the Olympics for karate and do my best to get that gold,” he said. But for now, he’s focusing on being a seventh grader, getting excellent grades in school, and playing the violin, while fueling his passion for karate. John-Michael is certainly one to watch!