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Portraits

With heart, mind and muscles

When you see her, it’s hard to believe that Alisa is a world champion in karate. Her pretty face is lit up by a radiant smile and she has her long hair tied back in a cute ponytail. You immediately notice how she manages to unite athleticism with femininity so perfectly. We sat down together for a relaxed chat and wanted to know what her hometown, Salzburg, meant to her.

Alisa Buchinger was born in Salzburg in 1992. At the tender age of just five, she discovered her love for the sport of karate and it quickly became clear: this girl had real talent. Added to her love for the sport itself, was the opportunity it gave her to push, and constantly expand her limits. In the 68 kg division, Alisa is ranked first in the world – though she no longer competes in this category. She was simply so good, she had an enormous lead in the standings. In her new weight division, 61 kg, she expects to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She has one clear goal in mind: gold!

What is so special for you about Salzburg?

That’s simple. Where else do you have within 30 minutes mountains for hiking and skiing, lakes where you can swim and chill, along with such a fantastic downtown area like you find here in Salzburg?

How do your fellow competitors react when you tell them you come from Salzburg?

I have to admit, whenever I tell them that, I have a true sense of pride in my voice. And sometimes we get into a real battle of words about who comes from the world’s most beautiful city. (laughter) That’s when I can get into quite a huff.

Do you have any special places in Salzburg where you go to re-energize? Places where you can find a peaceful escape? You sometimes train three times a day, so you must be drained at times.

I love the Kapuzinerberg mountain. It doesn’t matter if it is a comfy walk with friends on a Sunday or just a simple look over Salzburg – this is great. Even when I do some running on the mountain, I sometimes have to stop and just indulge in the view. That gives energy, let me tell you! I also love riding my bike and the Hellbrunn Alley is perfect for that. Three kilometers without cars, just the Gaisberg mountain on the left and the Untersberg mountain on the right – and a coffee break at the Gwandhaus half-way (laughs).

Aside from your sporting career, you also dedicate a lot of time to children. What kinds of projects are you involved with?

I often travel as a spokesperson for “Project Sun International”. Last winter, I was in India for the second time in order to teach young girls self-defense. If you are traveling overseas as an athlete, you generally only see the inside of hotels, sports arenas and airports. But the minute you get a glimpse of the outside world, you see how tough some people have it, children in particular. I’m especially interested in projects that focus on prevention of sexual violence.

What profession would you have chosen if you had not become a karate world champion?

You know, I always wanted to become a vet. Or an actor. (ponders) That’s something I would still like to do. So, if Hollywood comes calling, I won’t say no. I could imagine shooting action scenes for movie, perhaps even as a stunt double.

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