Mike Powers | News-Bulletin photo
Competitors with a wide range of skills and ages took part in the Capt. Tamara Long-Archuleta Memorial Karate Championships at Belen High School on Saturday.

After a two year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, what Richard Long called “a six-ring circus” was back. The “circus” was the 15th annual Capt. Tamara Long-Archuleta Memorial Open Karate Championship held at Belen High School, where the gym floor featured six different events simultaneously.

There was 175 competitors from 12 different karate schools taking part, ranging in skills from beginner to advanced and ages 5 to adult.

“It was very successful,” said Long, admitting he was nervous about the response after the hiatus. “We are thankful to be in a community that helps put this on — Belen schools, businesses and individuals in the area. It’s very humbling.”

Richard and his wife, Cindy, owners of Belen Goju Ryu Karate, have hosted a tournament since 1993, with the last 15 championships named in memory of their daughter. Capt. Tamara Long-Archuleta died in a helicopter crash while serving in Afghanistan in 2003.

Long said more than $6,000 was raised this year for  college scholarships given annually to Valencia County students. More than $40,000 has been raised in total.

“It feels like normal again,” Long said, adding they will continue to sponsor the championship as long as they are physically able.

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.