Dec 20 2012 by Andrew McGilvray, Hamilton Advertiser
A hamilton karate champion proved that Asperger’s syndrome isn’t a barrier for him by finishing third in the Karate World Championships in Paris last month.
Now dedicated Derek Darvell is gearing up for his next challeng,e the International Karate Open in Dubai in January.
Derek is an expert in kata, an athletic series of blocks and counter-attacks against an imaginary opponent, and in what he describes as “the best day of my life”, Derek wowed a 12,000-strong audience in Paris in November.
He competed against athletes from 13 countries, all of whom were demonstrating their expertise in the disability section.
And a board member for the Dubai comnpetition who was in the Paris audience was so impressed by Derek’s skills that he invited the karate champion to compete in the United Arab Emirates on the spot.
However, the hard-working student is completely self-funded and fears his Dubai dreams may not come true if he cannot raise his target of £1000.
Alongside his trainer Terry Connell, president of the Scottish Karate governing body, Derek is calling on big-hearted businesses and Hamilton people to sponsor him as he showcases his amazing talents around the world.
Terry, who has been Derek’s trainer for eight years, said: “It was fantastic to hear so many VIPs attending the Paris event say that Derek’s demonstration was the highlight.
“I’m absolutely confident that he’ll be a star attraction in Dubai too – we just need to make sure he gets there.
“This is an exciting time for karate, with lots of new developments on the horizon.
“The Scottish karate community is hoping demonstrations of Derek’s skills will help persuade the World Karate Federation to formally introduce a disability section to all its competitions.
“The International Olympics Committee is also in the process of making a decision on karate becoming an official sport at the next Olympic Games.
“Olympic representatives were in the audeicne in Paris and demonstrations like Derek’s are absolutely crucial to helping persuade them to take karate to that next competition level.
“The Hamilton International Sports Fund has been fantastic; they stepped in with the funds to help Derek compete in Paris, and we’re hoping that more organisations will want to follow that example.”
Like many people with Asperger’s syndrom, a form of autism, Derek experiences challenges in communication, but he is determined to break through the barriers as he obtained his black belt 2nd Dan last year and won titles in the Scottish Championship in 2009 and British National open in 2010, 11 and 12.
He said: “Karate is the most important thing in my life. I used to be quite negative about myself but karate and Terry’s training opened up a whole new world. My concentration, confidence and communication skills have improved so much.
“It’s my absolute dream to show the world what I can do in Dubai and play a part in helping make karate a recognised sport in the next Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Anyone willing to contribute to Derek’s Dubai dream should visit his JustGiving site at: www.justgiving.com/derekdarvell.