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Jessica Cargill, the Karate Victress

Published:Monday | June 10, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Each punch landed with precision as Jessica Cargill, Jamaica’s very first female karate athlete, warmed up for her daily night-training session. Though drenched in sweat and flushed pink from exertion, she smiled with eyes beaming from a desire to become the best. As she demonstrated the different styles of karate kicks, it was obvious that the Swiss native enjoyed every aspect of the sport. With focus and the agility of a wild cat, each punch and kick was preparing her to compete in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima and the 2020 Olympics.

“I am simply paving the way for the younger karate athletes, especially the females, to be able to compete on the world stage,” said Cargill, as she explained how difficult it is to be a pioneer for the sport in her father’s country. “I moved to Jamaica seven years ago and fell in love with the country. I want to be able to represent my Jamaica to the best of my ability. The pressure is real but the sport is something I love and I want to see it grow,” explained the former European karate champion.

Passion for Karate

The first-degree black belt athlete discovered her passion for karate at the age of 12 while residing in Switzerland with her mother. She has competed within the European arena, which allowed her to hone her craft and learn about the different disciplines within the sport. “Karate has definitely kept me focused throughout my life because it teaches discipline. You also become goal-oriented because you are always working towards something, like (the) next belt or a competition,” said Cargill.

Training for the Pan American games is no easy feat and requires intense concentration for the conditioning of her mind and body. “I still have to work so I schedule my training session for in the morning and at night,” she explained. Her morning training session consists of 50 minutes of cardio or the gym and after work, her routine focuses on the technical elements of the sport. “Nutrition is such an important aspect of performance and you cannot outwork a bad diet,” she said. “I am a rasta so I eat very healthy already, but I am a lot more mindful of what I put into my body because I am training,” continued Cargill.

Karate is an unconventional sport in Jamaica, so one of Cargill’s greatest challenges is getting sponsorship to participate in competitions. “Karate is not like track and field or male football. Getting sponsorship is difficult,” she said as she explained the struggle of using her own money at times to travel or have the right nutrition.

Apart from winning at the games, her sole goal is to help to build the foundation for the future of Karate in Jamaica. Cargill is disciplined, determined and dedicated to making an impact for the sport within the island.

To see her journey and become a sponsor visit