Karate champ Calum’s Japan joy


By Michael MacLeod

SCOTLAND’S top karate star is home with a bronze medal from the world’s toughest fighting competition in Japan.

But unlike his foreign competitors whose countries gifted them houses and cars for taking part, Calum Robb, 23, came crashing down to earth by going back to university the next day.


The eleven-time Scottish champion and six-time reigning British title-holder says he’s “desperate” for ‘all-styles’ Karate to be accepted as an Olympic sport so he can fight for his country.

Nobody had ever brought home a medal for Scotland in the World All Styles Karate Championships since the late 1970s.

The Herriot Watt PHD student represented the country with six other Scots – all amateur status – but most of his opponents were professionals.

But Calum hopes his success in Tokyo last week can be built on with all-important funding he says the sport needs.

He said: “Despite the fact that Karate is probably something like the third most participated sport in the country, there is just very little money pumped into it.

“There is a big difference between Karate in Scotland and Karate in other countries.

“The Turkish competitors for example were given a car, a house and 100,000 Euros for doing well. Me on the other hand – I was back at university the day after the tournament.

“But I don’t really care about the money anyway; I mean if it was there I would take it! What a bonus. But at the moment it’s enough for me to do it for my country.”

The Haddington fighter first leapt into Karate aged eight, then began competing at a club in Edinburgh aged 11.

Now he trains for 12 hours on a quiet week – more if there’s a tournament on the horizon – all in between his university studies.

The Team GB squad disbanded in the 1970s, and Calum admits there is “a temptation to hit a bit harder if your opponent is English.”

But England is where he wants to be in 2012, when the Olympics rolls into London.

He said: “I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the IOC will make the decision next year to bring Karate to the Olympics.

“Not only will it open doors for me, but it will raise the profile of the sport and open doors for younger kids who are interested too. We have a lot of brilliant juniors coming up.

“I’m desperate for it to be included in 2012, and to be able to go down to London with a team of other Scots and do our country proud would be the biggest honour.

“There is a bit of rivalry at the moment between Scotland and England just like in football. But this is an actual fight – and a temptation to hit a bit harder if your opponent is English.

“But that’s how it is because of history. It’s light-hearted, and there are rules about that kind of thing. So it’s just playful, nothing serious.”