KARATE: TJ sophomore Kiel Hicks wins gold medal at Junior Pan American Games

Thomas Jefferson sophomore Kiel Hicks won a gold and silver medal at the Junior Pan American Games, which were held in Cancun, Mexico.  - Courtesy Agnes Hicks
Thomas Jefferson sophomore Kiel Hicks won a gold and silver medal at the Junior Pan American Games, which were held in Cancun, Mexico.
— image credit: Courtesy Agnes Hicks

Kiel Hicks has gotten pretty used to standing on a podium and having a medal placed around his neck.

The Thomas Jefferson High School sophomore recently returned from Cancun, Mexico, with two more medals to add to his collection. Hicks was in Mexico competing at the 2012 Junior Pan-American Games.

Hicks qualified for the Pan-American Games in two individual events by winning titles in July at the United States National Championships and Team Trials in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

In Cancun, Hicks won a gold medal in the boys 14-15-year-old category in the kata (forms) division and brought home a silver medal in the kumite (fighting) division. The second-place finish came after Hicks lost a tie-breaking vote to the defending junior world champion, who happens to hail from Mexico.

In karate, kata is a word that describes detailed patterns of movements practiced in solo. Kata are executed as a specified series of a variety of moves, with stepping and turning. The athlete is told to visualize the enemy attacks and their responses. Kumite refers to an actual fighting bout in karate.

In total, the United States had a delegation of 76 athletes at the Junior Pan-American Games. Team USA brought home a grand total of 27 medals, including three golds, 11 silvers and 13 bronze. This was Hicks’ fourth year as a member of Team USA. He also competed in El Salvador and Canada.

But karate isn’t the only thing that Hicks excels at. The TJ sophomore is also an accomplished pianist and a nationally-recognized math student.

To illustrate the versatility of Hicks, he held his own benefit solo piano concert to raise funds for a 2011 trip to Malaysia for the World Junior Karate Championships, where he won a silver medal in the male cadet kata division at the 2011 World Junior Karate Championships.

Hicks also participated in the 2010-11 Valley Regional Solo and Ensemble Contest at the high-school level in piano as an eighth-grader at Totem Middle School and received a Superior rating — the highest given out.

He was also asked to play at the 100th anniversary of the PTA later this year. Hicks plays the drums and is currently a member of Thomas Jefferson’s drum line. He also plays the ukelele and the guitar.

In terms of academics, Hicks was nominated by Totem for the United States Achievement Academy for Math Excellence, resulting in a selection as one of the Academy’s All-American scholars.

Hicks also wrestled on the Thomas Jefferson varsity team as a freshman last year.

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