Impact shines for Team USA at World Games

Published 2:25 pm Monday, August 7, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Impact Martial Arts has returned from representing their county and Team USA at the World Martial Arts Games in Daytona Beach, Florida from July 29-31. Impact sent eight athletes to the games for Team USA, including four from Chilton County and local coach Sean Gilham as a Team USA coach.

“They did very well, and I was very proud of them,” Gilham said. “They put in the work, and it showed. They not only presented themselves well in the ring, but outside of it as well.”

Impact brought home 20 gold medals overall and five grand champion wins in various divisions. Team USA competed against countries like Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, India and many more during the World Games.

Local athlete Holly Pate led the way for Impact winning a team-high four gold medals and added a silver medal to her totals. She also captured the grand champion of the 13 and under Overall Underbelt CMX Weapons division.

Pate said the competition for her at the event was a bit stiffer than she has seen before, but the event has made her want to pursue other events in martial arts.

Chilton County’s Tyler Stallings also won multiple gold medals at the World Games with three. He is also the only member of Impact to be named grand champion in multiple divisions taking home the crown in the 14-17 Underbelt Overall CMX Forms and the 14-17 Underbelt Overall Traditional Weapons.

“Overall, it was a pretty good experience,” Stallings said. “Getting to meet new people was fun and I made some new friends.”

Stallings added that certain divisions were tougher, but some were a bit easier, and it depended on who was competing in each division.

Stallings said he enjoyed getting to tour Daytona International Speedway while on the trip. His aspirations in martial arts still reside with cage fighting and the MMA discipline, and plans to move more into fighting in the coming months.

Will Headley showcased a great skill set in some tough divisions at the World Games. Headley said he enjoyed going on the beach while down there, and getting to meet some of the foreign competitors such as the Great Britain team. He thought he did really well in the forms divisions he competed in at the World Games, and those were his favorite events he competed in there.

Bryant Culpepper was the final Chilton County athlete for Impact to compete at the World Games and he brought home a gold and silver medal.

“It was a good time,” Culpepper said. “I got a gold medal … And I really enjoyed getting to know the other members of Team USA while we worked out on the beach.”

Culpepper said going to the World Games has inspired him to do more big tournaments and it showed he is capable of winning them.

Caysen Junell was of four Impact athletes to compete for Team USA that resides outside of Chilton County. He has been in the Chilton County area recently training and preparing for his test to level up his black belt at 15 years old.

“It is always fun getting to compete with other people from around the world, and you do not get that opportunity often, so it was good,” Junell said.

Olivia Vick, Cyrus Vick and Sophia Simon-Lacombe were the other out of state Impact athletes who competed for Team USA at the World Games.

Gilham said the rest of the year for Impact Martial Arts will be preparing for the end of year championships with a few tournaments in September and October, leading up to the finals in November.