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Karate , Rugby, 5K race begin in Saturday Commonwealth Games action

Karate , Rugby, 5K race begin in Saturday Commonwealth Games action

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) - While the main weekend of Virginia's Commonwealth Games is slated for July 21-July 23, that didn't stop athletes from getting the party started a little early.

Karate competitors hit the hardwood at Linkhorne Middle School in Lynchburg, with numbers increasing for a 2nd straight year. The competition featured a big turnout in a variety of martial arts, in a wide range of ages, with some competitors starting as early as 4 years old. Gold Medalist Kasey Addair from Tazewell competed in her 12th straight Commonwealth Games, and says it's become a highlight of her summer. "Honestly, over the years, I've met quite a few martial arts family members." Addair says. "We are just one big happy family. We've got each other's backs, we're happy to help out, and it's really fun competing against one another, too."

Rugby made a welcome debut in the Commonwealth Games, with the Blacksburg Rugby Club taking the gold medals. The tournament followed the format of the Olympic and Collegiate "sevens" tournament, featuring two, fast-paced, seven minute halves of action. The competition is part of Lynchburg Parks and Recreation's Youth Rugby Initiative to increase the sports popularity.

Richmond-James River took the silver, while Lynchburg's Blackwater Rugby defeated the Washington & Lee/VMI club for the bronze medal.

Saturday's 5K race always marks the beginning of Commonwealth Games activity, and if Saturday's finish is any indication, we're in for an outstanding year of competition.

In an exciting stretch run, defending champ Jeff Harrington of Lynchburg outkicked 16-year-old Dillon Nelson of Louisa County by one second. Highlights and reaction from the runners can be found in Dennis Carter's recap of the race, which can be found here.

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