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44th European Senior Championships Zagreb - Croatia 2009 - Reports

Report by Wayne Otto O.B.E, England National Coach

The final selected athletes for this European championships was held in April 2009 and with such a short preparation time for the athletes, it was important for the selected athletes to understand exactly what was required from them in order to perform to their best and, on an unfortunate level discover how much money it would cost them in order to compete at these championships.

With the aforementioned out of the way, the selected athletes were then invited to Birmingham for 1 week where they would have there pre training for the event. The pre training went very well; I was very impressed with each individual’s commitment to the training and acceptance of the training strategies that I had put in place.

We traveled to the event on Monday 4th May, 5 days before the event starts so naturally we manage to fit a few more light training session in before we got down to the business of competing.

The selected athletes were as follows:

Jonathan Mottram
Ashleigh Kenny
Alton Brown
Amy Thomason
Katie Hurry
Chris Rigg
Chris Harris
Emily Griffiths
Gemma Marwood
Natalie Williams
Male Kata
Female Kata
Male -75kg
Female -68kg
Female +68kg
Male -60kg
Male -67kg
Female -50kg
Female -55kg
Female -61kg

Friday Day 1

Ashleigh Kenny female kata

Ashleigh Kenny female kataThe championships started with the individual kata competition, Ashleigh Kenny had a very good start to these championships with a bye in the 1st round. She then went on to defeating her 2nd round opponent E.Horvath from Hungry with Bassai Dai 4:1 then defeating her 3rd round opponent M.Steenbeek from the Netherlands with Anan 4:1.Her 4th round opponent S.Livitsanou from Greece a former junior World Champion was poised to be a much harder task but in the end Ashleigh defeat her opponent 5:0 with Super Empi.

The 6th round against Y.Martin Abello from Spain in the semi finals proved to be a much harder task and as a result Ashleigh lost the bout 0:5 performing Chat GU . With all her all the best kata’s used in the previous rounds, her bronze medal bout against the French competitor did not produce the result we had hope for, never the less Ashleigh had put up a tremendous performance and gained a joint 5th position at these championships.

Jonathan Mottram male kata

Jonathan Mottram male kataJonathan Mottram came into these championships with great confidence and hoping to do better than his previous bronze medal position he gained at these championships last year and his outstanding performance at the World Championships last year where he gain a joint 4th position.

Jonathan had a very good start to these championships defeating his competitor R.Jeronimo from Portugal in the 1st round with Kanku Dai 5:0, then going on to defeat his 2nd round opponent M.Sekulovski from Romania with Jion 5:0.

His 3rd round opponent F.San Jose Bastante from Spain proved to be the down fall and all though this contest was close with Jonathan performing Unsu, the match was a loss of 2:3. Suffering this defeat at the hands of the Spanish competitor was a huge blow however the competitor from Spain did make it to the final which gave Jonathan another chance at securing a medal.

The 1st round repercharge bout would have Jonathan against the very strong competitor J.Tesarek from the Czech Republic. Jonathan performed Kanko Sho however his performance was not enough to convince the referees that he was the better competitor, and as a result Jonathan lost the bout 2:3. Jonathans’ final position for this tournament was within the top 8 a disappointing finish for him.

Amy Thomason -68kg

Amy ThomasonThe individual kumite categories started with Amy and Katie. Amy’s 1st round bout against A.Mirea of Romania was a great start for Amy and a well fought match. Amy gave a very controlled and satisfactory performance to secure the win 3:1, however, her 2nd round opponent V.Panetsidou from Greece proved to be some what elusive and after her Greek opponent scoring the 1st point, Amy found it very difficult to regain the point lost, and as a result lost the bout 0:1 The competitor from Greece did not make it to the final and as result Amy had to settle for a 2nd round last 16 placing.

Katie Hurry +68kg

Katie HurryKatie Hurry started off her championships gaining a bye in the 1st round which then placed her 2nd round bout against the very experienced J.Cargill from Switzerland. The match was very closely fought, but Katie managed to take the advantage and secured the win 1:0 to advance to the next round. Her 2nd round bout was a much more convincing win of 3:0 against R. Krejcova from the Czech Republic which in turn set her up for her semi final show down with former World and Multi European Champion Y. Aras from Turkey.

The match was very tight, neither fighter making any mistakes, the bout went to extra time and although there was a point in which Katie took the advantage, the technique was warned for excessive contact. In the dying seconds of the fight, Y.Aras managed to score a point in an exchange and as a result Katie lost the bout 1:0.

C. Feo Gomez of Spain came through the repercharge to challenge Katie for the bronze medal. The bout was an excellent performance from Katie, and as a result the fight was won 3:0 giving Katie a well deserved bronze medal at these championships and England’s 1st medal.

Alton Brown -75kg

Alton BrownAlton Brown Championships started of with a 1st round bye, which then saw his 2nd round fight against J.Schultz from Germany. The bout was closely contested with Alton eventually winning the bout 1:0. The 3rd round fight was against V.O Hora from Ireland. Both fighters struggled with the quality of the mats and as a result the performance was not the best I have seen, however, Alton did manage to secure a 2:0 win against his opponent and proceed to the quarter final stage against S.Yagci from Turkey. During this bout, Alton had an unfortunate incident in which he was penalised for excessive contact and thus lost 2 points immediately, now he had to chase the points while his opponent adopted evasion tactics to secure the bout.

Alton did manage to regain some ground on his opponent, but while trying to gain the points lost, he conceded another point. The final score was a 2:3 loss for Alton and great disappointment. His opponent lost his next round fight and as a result all hope for Alton gaining a Medal at these championships was lost. Alton finished the tournament with a top 8 placing.

Saturday Day 2

Chris Harris -67kg

Chris HarrisChris Harris competition started off with a 1st round bye which then saw him pitted against V.Popa from Serbia. The mats at theses championships were very slippery and many complaints about the quality of the mats were made to the organising committee, however although repeated attempts where done to make the mats better the final result was that all had to deal with the problem and perform the best they could.

For Chris the problem with the mats seem too great and as result he greatly under performed and lost the bout 3:0. His opponent then lost his next round bout and as a result lost all hope of gaining a medal at these championships.

Chris Rigg -60kg

Chris RiggChris Rigg first round fight was against A.Kyriakides from Cyprus, this was a great start for Chris and a well fought match. Chris gave a very controlled and satisfactory performance to secure the win 3:1, however his 2nd round opponent A.Bruna from the Czech Republic proved to be some what elusive and after his Czech opponent scoring the 1st point, Chris found it very difficult to regain the point lost and as a result lost the bout 0:1

The competitor from the Czech Republic did not make it to the final and as result Chris had to settle for a 2nd round last 16 placing.

Natalie Williams -61kg

Natalie WilliamsNatalie Williams has been long over due a medal at these championships and as one of the most experienced fighters in England high hopes was resting on her achieving her goal. The championships for Natalie started off with very confident and very controlled win against V.Veliu from Albania 3:0. The 2nd round bout against A.Serogina from the Ukraine was a much tighter bout, however Natalie did manage to break the dead lock and seize the advantage and win the bout 1:0.

Her 3rd round fight would set her up for the show down with an old adversary and reigning World Champion M.Sobol from Russia. The fight was always going to have to rely on tactics and as a result Natalie followed the plan to the letter and secured the win against the Russian 2:0.

The win put Natalie in the semi finals and pitted her against a very experience and explosive fighter M.Suljikanovic from Bosnia. The performance Natalie gave in this bout was inspiring and on this occasion really showed Natalie at her best. The bout was won 7:0 and as a result secured Natalie’s place in the finals.

The final saw Natalie having to face up to another old rival former World and European Champion E.Mededova Tulejova from Slovakia. The match was closely fought however, there were many missed opportunities for Natalie to score and a few points that I thought should have been hers, however at the end of 3 minutes the bout was 0:0. During the last 15 seconds of extra time both fighters clashed and in that moment Natalie conceded her first point of the championships and was hit with a kick that put the Slovakian fighter 3 points ahead. Although Natalie fought fiercely to regain this point back and on at least 2 occasions there was moments when it looked like she succeeded, the bout ended with a 0:3 loss and Natalie had to settle for silver. A disappointing result for Natalie but her performance was simply outstanding.

Emily Griffiths -50kg

Emily GriffithsEmily Griffiths first appearance at these championships gave her a 1st round bye which then pitted her against P.Linhartova from the Czech Republic. Leading up to these championships Emily had flared up an old injury which drastically hampered her final preparation for this championship and as a result could not train for at least 7 days prior to the tournament. Only thanks to the great care and skill full knowledge of our Physio Mo was she able to compete. The match was closely fought, with the Czech fighter seizing the advantage in the early stages of the bout with Emily fighting her way back during the latter half of the fight.

Although a very spirited performance from Emily she eventually lost the bout 2:3. Although her opponent did go through another 2 rounds she did not make it to the final and all medal prospect for Emily was gone.

Gemma Marwood

Gemma Marwood has always struggled to make her mark on the international circuit, never the less she always works hard to improve on each performance. Her 1st round bout pitted her against K.Strika from Serbia, unfortunately for Gemma her opponents height advantage and reach was too much for her on this occasion and once her opponent had scored the first point it was always going to be a hard job for Gemma to regain the points back. The bout ended in a 0:4 loss against Gemma and yet another disappointing result and performance for her. Her opponent did not make it any further in the championships so there was no possibility of any repercharge bout for Gemma.

Sunday Day 3

The England Women’s team consisted of Natalie William, Katie Hurry, Amy Thomason and Gemma Marwood. After the women’s success of the previous two days, hopes were running high that we could achieve the same sort of success with the team event.

The 1st round bout was against the team from Serbia. The match was won but the performance of the individuals involved in this match was not that which they had displayed over the previous 2 days and as a result Katie 1:1 draw, Amy 1:1 Draw and Natalie a 3:2 win in the last second.

The next round bout was against a very experienced team from Switzerland. Once again the ladies performance lacked lustre and was not a reflection of the true potential these ladies had previously displayed. The results in the end reflected what was to come with Katie having a 2:2 draw, Natalie losing 0:1 and Amy losing 0:2.

The loss for the ladies team was very disappointing and shows that mentally we now have to start getting stronger and remember that when fighting at international events like this we need to prepare for 3 days worth of fighting and not just the individual categories which may happen on a separate days. The team from Switzerland did not make it past the next round which put an end to any chances of the ladies redeeming themselves.

I would like to thank all the competitors for their effort and support at this championships and I would like to state that I was very proud of their conduct while at these championships. All the athletes were a credit to themselves and their country, and I look forward to working with all of you within the near future.

In closing I would like to thank Debbie Sell for all her hard work, Mo for keeping the athletes in excellent shape and Ian Cole for assisting me at these championships. I would also like to make a special thank you to Mick Billman, John De Bono and his wife for their support at these championships, it was greatly appreciated.

Report prepared by

Wayne Otto OBE
England National Coach

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