Trinity Allen smiled as a group of 4-year-olds walked through the door of her father’s dojo, ready for their lesson.
“Sometimes when you’re training, you forget to have fun,” she said. “Teaching kids, it’s all about having fun. It really helps me to remember why I do karate.”
The 17-year-old Summerlin resident is teaching a karate class, passing on her knowledge and skills to what she hopes becomes the next generation of stars. She has a lot to teach, after all.
Allen is the top-ranked American in her age group and 59-kilogram weight class, ranked No. 22 in the World Karate Federation. In December she will compete in Italy, itching for a chance to join the US Olympic team when karate makes its debut at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
“We’ve been fighting for this representation as a sport — I don’t think karate gets the respect it deserves — and so just to have it gain its way into the Olympics is huge,” Allen said. “Whether I’m competing there, whether I’m watching, wherever I am, I am so happy it made it that far after all these years.”
Allen started young. Her father and trainer, Hiroshi Allen, was a member of the senior U.S. national team, and his father, Bob Allen, was a former captain of the U.S. national team. Trinity made her first national team when she was 12. She trained this year in Croatia and spent the summer of 2017 in Spain.
“Trinity is probably my greatest experiment,” Hiroshi Allen said. “What I try to do for Trinty is that I look back and think what would I have liked, or what would have made me better? And what I do is introduce it to her.
“It’s kind of like a mad scientist.”
The odds are against Allen making the 2020 Olympic team. She doesn’t start accumulating qualifying points until she turns 18 in February, which would give her only about year to gather enough points to make the American team. She said 2024 in Paris is more realistic, as is 2028, when the Games are a short drive down Interstate 15 in Los Angeles.
Allen has Vietnamese and Japanese heritage, meaning she could have chosen to fight for either of those countries. Vietnam is a weaker karate country, and there’s an argument that she would have a better shot of making that team.
But she was born in Louisiana and moved to Las Vegas as a baby.
“I’ve stuck to the U.S. I’ve grown up on the U.S. team since I was 12, so it means more because I’ve always been patriotic,” Allen said. “We’ve become a team, and it would be really cool to represent them.”
The West Career and Technical Academy senior plans to attend UNLV next fall to major in psychology, and hopes to open her own dojo one day.
Right now her focus is on the WKF K1 Youth League in Venice, Italy. A strong showing could break her into the world’s top 10; then anything could be next. Even the Olympics, an opportunity her father never had.
“I’m really happy that she is going to have things that I didn’t have,” Hiroshi Allen said. “That’s my enjoyment as a parent: just opportunities.”