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CFK students invited to train at Olympic Training Center

Posted: January 23, 2017 6:12 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Pictured above is the competition team of Carolina Family Karate with their coach, Mathew Gardner. The team will have the opportunity to train at the Olympic Training Center in February.

Lugoff’s Carolina Family Karate has been invited to send eight of its students to train at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center  February 16-20. The students, all black belts and on the CFK’s competition team, will have the opportunity to train with Tokey Hill, the first American to win the World Karate Federation Traditional World Karate title.

 CFK Coach Sensei Blake Wagers, Sarah Gustafson, Junior   Team member Hannah Gustafson, Lia Capello, Ian Shivar, Lydia Gustafson, Johnaston Gustafson and Cameron Sloan are the eight students who will have the opportunity to train under Olympic athletic trainers. The students are coached by Sensei Mathew Gardner. The invitation to train at the U.S. Olympic Center came after four team members, all siblings, visited Lake Placid on a family vacation. 

“While we were there, they met Tokey Hill’s daughter. The next thing I knew, Tokey Hill is calling Bob Montgomery (owner of CFK) and inviting them to the Olympic training center,” Debbie Gustafson, mother of the students,  said.

The students’ skills got the attention of Tokey Hill who, coincidently, used to train with Montgomery. Hill’s invitation comes just after the Olympic Committee voted to include karate as a sport in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.  In a letter from Hill, he states the purpose of the training camp is to identify and develop potential athletes for Team USA.

“We are excited, this came about really suddenly … A lot of these kids have been wanting karate in the Olympics for years. When they would do writing projects it was writing a letter to the Olympic Committee to get karate into the Olympics. Now they have the opportunity to go up to the training center and possibly compete,” Gustafson said.

“Just the potential that this is … its nothing we ever dreamed about in Lugoff, South Carolina” 

CFK is owned by Lee and Bob Montgomery, who are both former karate champions. They now spend their time coaching students 

 “I saw myself in these kids and I said I need to help them,” Bob said on starting CFK. “As I got older, I started thinking about making instructors -- extraordinary instructors -- come out of this; then I got blessed with these two guys.”

Montgomery then referred Gardner and Wagers.

“These guys are so good now; (my wife and I) can just sit back for most of the lessons.” 

Montgomery credits the perseverance and dedication of his students to helping to lead them to this opportunity. He says all students in his school must keep up their grades to participate. The students invited to train at the Olympic Center have placed in state, regional and national Amateur Athletic Union karate competitions.  

“All of our team has gotten medals at state completion. Almost everyone has gotten medals at regional and 95 percent won medals at nationals,” said Montgomery 

Wagers, who has been with CFK for eight year, says he is very excited about this training opportunity. He started practicing karate because his mom was looking for extracurricular activities to accompany his home school curriculum.

“My mom put me in and I just fell in love with it. I started to really enjoy it and eventually I became I teacher. I love to train and this is a great opportunity to be able to train under Hill, even for just a short time. I’m really happy about the training and what it could lead to,” Wagers said.

Dana Sloan, whose son Cameron will also be attending the training camp, says her children’s involvement in karate under Bob Montgomery has been a great experience for them.

“Bob has quite a history in the world of karate. We’ve been with him since my boys were 5 and 7.  Karate has been good for our family. It has taught a lot of discipline, self control … and he (Montgomery) is excellent at giving the students physical training list, he even gives chore lists and encourages them to help out around the house,” Sloan said.

Amy Shivar’s son, Ian, will also be attending the training session and she is looking forward. 

“He eats, sleeps and drinks karate. Ian has given up other things because he doesn’t want to miss class or practice. Not many athletes have this opportunity to go to a facility like this and to be evaluated on a personal level. They are supposed to each leave with an individual plan to help them grow in their abilities, strength and training so that they can have their eyes on 2020. That is huge,” Shivar said. 

The cost per student to train at the Olympic Center is $500 per athlete. The goal of the team is to raise $4,000, then another $1,500 for chaperone expenses. The fundraising goal does not include team travel expenses. Those interested in donating can visit the team’s Go Fund Me at or can email to inquire about ways to help.

A hot dog fundraiser will also be held on Jan. 28 at the IGA in Elgin.


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