A soccer match can last 90 minutes or more, a tennis match can stretch for hours, but a competitive karate match is a quick three minutes. Win or go home. It’s possible to fly to Europe for one match, make just one mistake and have to fly back.

“On a great day, you’ve put in six or seven fights for a medal match,” Tom Scott says. “If you do go home early, you need to make quick corrections for the next month and not repeat mistakes. Every trip is valuable, regardless of winning or losing.”

Tom fell in love with karate at the age of eight and entered the competitive arena at 18. The winner of North American and Pan American championships as well as two Pan Am gold medals, he hopes to add an Olympic medal to his collection next year.

“I’ve been dreaming about karate in the Olympics before it was ever even possible,” he says. “I’m excited about it! It’s a big challenge, but that’s what I’m here for.”

Teachable Moments
Tom has been training with sensei Brody Burns at the Academy of Classical Karate in Plano, Texas, for more than 20 years. There, he has the perfect set-up, where he can train, work and travel.

“Thankfully, I am in a unique spot,” he says. “So many athletes have to carefully manage their work schedule and be careful about time off because they have to pay bills. I get to use what I learned while earning my master’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship, working with marketing and other ongoing projects at the academy.”

When he’s not travelling to competitions or managing the school, Tom also teaches many of the school’s students. It’s rewarding to share his love of the sport with others.

“It’s great helping kids gain confidence by learning new skills,” he says. “I also teach kids self-discipline. I love when they realize that they actually enjoy being rewarded for behaving the way they should.”

More in Store
Besides sharing his love for karate, Tom is also open to sharing his love for God.

“I was raised Catholic,” he says. “Then in college, I really got into exploring my beliefs to a deeper level. At university, if something’s important to you, you study it, write about it, read about it, watch videos. That’s how I approached my faith, finding answers to things I didn’t quite understand. I had a great group of Christian friends in a good fraternity. We held Bible study groups together and really learned how to push each other and be accountable. That was 10 years ago, and I’m still doing that.”

As Tom trusts in God, he looks forward to experiencing what He has in store for him, Olympics and otherwise.

“Jesus Christ has become my backbone and safety net,” he proclaims on his website. “I can stand tall and fear not the trials of daily life, the shortcomings of humanity and the world, and especially what happens in the ring.”

Rolling With the Punches
The trials of daily life were on full display last year, when Tom lost his spot on the U.S. Olympic team and then the Olympic Games themselves were postponed to 2021 in the wake of COVID-19.

“The qualification process for these games was very rough for me,” says Tom. “I qualified and then lost my spot to another athlete. Then the virus shut down my last opportunities for points.

“I was devastated when I lost my spot but by contemplating Jesus’ Easter journey, I have found peace and hope in my own.”

Though Tom narrowly missed out during the original selection process for the games, the World Karate Federation awarded him a spot in July when another athlete was no longer able to compete due to a doping issue. The Olympic karate competition will begin on August 5.

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