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Federal Way's karate kid makes Team USA
Kiel Hicks is a good student, skilled pianist and a talented karate pupil with eyes on the Olympics — but he has to make it through middle school first.
Hicks, 12, returned from Florida with three new medals this past July. He competed in the USA National Karate Federation National Championships.
He received his gold medal for first place in the Elite Team trials for Kumite (fighting), a silver in Open Kata (form) and a bronze in Open Kumite.
As the 2009 National Champion for the Elite Team Trials Kumite (boys 12-13 under 40 kilograms), Hicks earned a spot on Team USA, said his parents Eric and Agnes Hicks.
Hicks will be representing the United States at the Junior Pan American Games. He will travel to El Salvador for the competition beginning on Aug. 31.
In November, he will be traveling at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Selected among the top 40 athletes in the country, Hicks will participate in an athlete development program for young athletes with Olympic potential.
For one week, Hicks will live and train with Olympic athletes and coaches.
Somewhere between all that, Hicks will start the seventh grade this fall.
Hicks has an older brother who plays football for Thomas Jefferson High School. Both parents support their sons' activities, but are not insistent, they said.
Hicks began karate classes at the YMCA five years ago after his father suggested he get involved in some type of extracurricular activity.
"I thought it was just going to be a class a few times a week. I never expected it to go this far," Eric Hicks said.
Neither did Kiel Hicks. He said he never thought about competing until his sensei (instructor) started mentioning tournaments.
Agnes Hicks said her son regularly practices for two hours, three days a week. When training for a competition, he will practice up to eight hours a day.
He also plays the piano in the school jazz band, as well as solos and recitals. He practices the piano with the same passion he has for karate.
"I really like classical," Hicks said.
He does all this while maintaining his grades. According to his parents, Kiel does well in school despite having to miss school occasionally. Agnes also said they have the full support of Kiel's principal.
"His grades have never been an issue," Eric Hicks said.