Tokyo Olympics: Andrea Anacan named as New Zealand's first Olympic karate athlete

New Zealand will send its first karate athlete to the Olympic Games, with Andrea Anacan confirmed to travel to Tokyo.

Anacan, 30, will compete in the women's kata event, which sees athletes judged on form rather than combat.

"It means the world to me to be part of this New Zealand team," Anacan says.

On Wednesday, the final two more names will be added to the NZ team, taking the total number of kiwi athletes heading to Tokyo to 211, easily eclipsing the 199 sent to Rio in 2016.

Tuesday's penultimate selection announcement gave a group of rest home residents a unique look at a sport making its Olympic debut.

"I didn't ever dream of going to the Olympics when I started this sport - it's been a bit of a surprise to be honest. 

"There's been a lot of hard work. I can't quantify the hours that me and my sensei have put in.

“We never could have imagined this, but I couldn't be more excited.

Anacan picked up karate at the age of four in her native Philippines, before moving to New Zealand at 12, training under sensei Johnny Ling.

At 14, Anacan gave up kumite - the combat form of karate - to focus on kata.

"Sensei told me 'if you don't grow any taller in a year, you'll stop competing in kumite and do kata'," she adds.

"He told me that I can't reach my opponents when I'm fighting, and they're so much taller than me and with a longer reach. 

"I didn't grow any taller, I'm still 4ft 11in [1.50m], but it's actually really beneficial for kata, because my centre of gravity is lower."

Anacan finished seventh at the 2018 karate world championships at Madrid, Spain.

Competition will take place at Nippon Budokan, a legacy venue dating back to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.