KAMLOOPS — They are some of the cutest little martial artists you've ever seen.
But don't be fooled — they're also as tough as nails, especially a pair of athletes who are headed to a big meet in California in early 2019.
They're hoping to spread the word about their sport, and get some support in their quest for a Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu championship.
The pair of Liam Wlodarczyk and Kasey Wycott.
"Half of the gold medals you see on this wall are from him — him and Kasey both," says Chad Freeman, the owner operator of BOA Martial Arts in Kamloops. "They're in there every weekend grinding it out and representing their team."
Liam is just eight years old, but according to his coach his skill set is head and shoulders above the competition.
"He's so strong for his size," says Freeman. "He's a very little guy, very athletic, very aggressive, he comes at it really hard. A very quick learner, a little bit above the norm for a child his age and size."
Liam is the defending Pan American kids champion and will be heading to California in the new year to defend that title.
Despite his success in the sport, Liam remains pretty humble.
"My favourite part (of the sport) is helping people get better and better," says eight-year-old Liam.
Joining Liam at the California competition will be Kasey Wycott. His goal for the 2019 event is pretty simple.
"Do better than last year," says Kasey. "Last year I came third."
For Kasey, competing against the top competition in the world is the best way to test himself.
"Learning by my mistakes and next time I go in there being a bit better."
While coming home with some new hardware to hang on the walls of the gym is always nice, their coach says the results aren't the most important part of competition.
"Good sportsmanship is always the number one key thing," says Freeman. "I don't expect anything other than to have them go in and give it their best and to handle themselves as sportsmen, like always."
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