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43rd Junior, Cadet & 8th U21 European Championships, Limassol, Cyprus, 5-7 Februrary 2016
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The below are reports and results posted from Finland.
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Day three was individual finals day and England had two athletes competing, Alton Brown in the male -75kg bronze medal match and Jordan Thomas male -67kg final.
First up was Alton Brown with a real opportunity to win England’s first medal of the championships, competing against DONA of France. Although Dona is a well decorated athlete he has not been in great form in recent years which presented realistic expectations of a medal and up against the ‘in form’ Alton Brown of England. The bout itself proved to be a disappointing one and in a largely inactive bout Alton was unable to claw back the two point deficit and proceeded to lose 0-8 on category two warnings. Unable to recapture the drive and performance of day one we had settle for fifth place overall. The flip side being, if this was the 2015 European Championships, Alton would have automatically qualified for a place in the 2015 European Olympics being held in Baku Azerbaijan next year. In addition Alton has gained important WKF ranking points of which will improve his World ranking status, so therefore a great effort over all.
The last individual match of the championships and England’s ‘Golden’ opportunity now rested on the young shoulders of Jordan Thomas. On day one Jordan was in fantastic form scoring a total of 16 points only conceding two against and although this is not a guarantee of success it could be argued that it is sound performance indicator and we were confident in his scoring abilities. Jordan was up against the competitor from Azerbaijan, ALIYEV NIYAZI and as expected proved to be a very tactical and close bout. Jordan scored first with a counter punch found it difficult to hold onto the lead and his opponent drew back the match 1-1. In line with the rules in the event of a draw, throughout the match Jordan was better tactically and committed to more attacks therefore won the bout (and the title) on a 3-2 decision.
‘Congratulations to Jordan Thomas’, the English Karate Federations first Senior European Champion and England’s second over 14 year span. His name now resides in the record books next to names of former Senior European Champions such as, Leon Walters, Wayne Otto, Mick Sailsman, Mervyn Etienne, Molly Samuel-Laporte, Jillian Toney, Willie Thomas (phew, to mention but a few) and now Jordan Thomas -67kg Senior European Champion 2014.
Major championships always bring sorrow with joy, elation and despair, both physical and emotional pain, but the excitement and adrenalin of competing against Europe’s finest keeps us coming back for more. Whether we won, lost or drew all the EKF competitors did their country proud and has acted with distinction both on and off the tatami. Note on the medal table England came joint sixth and that it does not say a name of a category but simply ‘England’, thus meaning we all share in this in this success and indeed are a part of it.
Final statistics; 1 x 9th place, 2 x 7th place, 1 x 5th place, and 1 x 1st place. Therefore five of the nine individual entrants finished in the top nine in Europe of which can only mean one thing. England is on the rise. The message is a simple one, ENGLAND – ‘YES WE CAN’
Thank you to the EKF staff that have worked to support the squad both prior and during the event.
As national coach it has been a privilege to represent the EKF at major championships and shoulder the responsibility and trust placed in me to nurture and develop England finest. THANK YOU
Willie Thomas National Coach
The second day started with both male and female Kata events England’s male team athletes were Robert Bingham, John Gardiner and Chris Karwacinski. The female team were Natalie Payne, Aimee Sell and Melissa Williamson.
The men faced Portugal in the first round and unfortunately lost 0-5, Portugal then went against Spain but lost out to Spain 4-1 in the semi-final and therefore no repo-charge for the guys. The female team suffered a similar fate and put up a spirited performance against the Belarus team narrowly losing 3-2 on flags. Belarus lost 5-0 in the next round to the eventual finalists Italy. The standard of European Karate is rising all the time and both teams have learnt from their losses and keen to get back to training and come back stronger and more determined.
Next up was the female kumite team namely Amelia Harvey, Carla Burkitt, Natalie Williams and Kate Karwacinski. From the outset there was an air of confidence around this team and given the individual pedigree of the athlete’s expectations were high.
England were drawn against the Ukraine in the first round and were confident of contesting the bout well knowing if they win their chances of a medal would increase. Natalie Williams was up first and took up and an early 2 point lead. As she edged closer to victory she got caught with uro maewashi geri and ran out of time to recoup the point thus losing 3-2. Kate was up next against the former European Champion and although worked hard was unable to hold off the attacks from the Ukraine and lost 2-0 to provide Ukraine with the 2-0 overall.
There are areas for improvement in this promising team and through training and development England can achieve these new benchmarks for performance
W Thomas National Coach
Female individual Kata
Emma Lucraft got off to a great start beating the competitor from Denmark 5-0 and in the second round lost 0-5 against the highly decorated Italian athlete who proved to be in formidable form all day and went on to make the finals. This brought Emma back into the repo-charge where she lost to Turkey in her first repo-charge bout.
Male individual Kata
John Gardiner Stepped in to represent England with a positive attitude and was eager to perform on the European stage. He competed against the competitor from Montenegro and narrowly lost two flags to three. The Montenegro athlete lost 4-1 to France who then himself lost to the Italian 3-2 in the next round, thus dashing any hopes of a repo-charge opportunity John. The benchmark has been clearly drawn for John who has only been inspired to train harder.
Female Individual umite
Carla Burkitt (-55kg) put up a spirited battle against WARLING from Luxemburg dropping and early point in the bout. She pulled it back 1-1 but in the dying seconds dropped another to lose 1-2. Warling was in great form and went on to make the finals bring Carla back into the repo-charge. Undeterred, Carla was drawn against MEYLNK from the Ukraine and lost 5-0. A disappointed Carla will have an opportunity to compete in the ladies team and another medal opportunity.
Natalie Williams (-61Kg) was in great form beating STELAND SONJA (LUX) 5-0 in her first bout and then ABIYEVA FARIDA (AZE) 6-0 in her second. Natalie fought a controlled fight in the quarter finals drawing the match 1-1 and lost on the tightest of margins 2-3 on flags. An astounded Natalie felt sure to progress to the semi-finals and thus a medal winning opportunity but her hopes were dashed when the athlete MAKSIMOVIC JELENA (MNE)lost and hopes of a repo-charge quickly faded.
Kate Kawacinski (-68kg) was in a positive mind-set approaching the fight and was up against the U21 European Silver medallist ZUANON CHIARA (ITA) in the first round. Kate was challenging her opponent throughout the bout but was unable to break through losing 0-2. The Italian went on to lose to the eventual finalist in the following round leaving Kate the team event to focus on.
Chris Harris (-60kg) made a steady start beating MCLOUGHLIN AARON(IRL)in the first round 3-0. Now safely through the first round Chris continued his campaign against a talented competitor CHARALAMPIDIS IOANNIS (GRE)beating him by an impressive 6-0. Now in the quarter finals Chris senses a real chance of success but came up against LIDEGAARD CASPER (DEN) who was in formidable form beating Chris 5-0 and went on to gain a place in the final. Chris had one fight to gain a place in the bronze medal final and lost 3-0 to HEIMANN ALEXANDER (GER)who competes on Saturday for the bronze medal. Chris finished 7th place overall.
Jordan Thomas (-67kg) came of age this day. He produced an outstanding performance to reach the finals of the Championships on Saturday. Jordan had a bye in the first round and had to ensure he was properly warmed up to meet in GIEGLER RICARDO (GER)his first bout. Jordan won 8-0 scoring with a variety of punching and kicking techniques. Jordan then beat the world no.3 POKORNY STEFANfrom Austria (4-1) who beat the favoured French competitor GARIN MARVIN in the previous round.
The semi-final Jordan confirmed his dominance by beating the Hungarian athlete TADISSI YVES4-1 to become the first male English Karate Federation male competitor to medal at a European Championships. A level headed Jordan is quietly preparing himself for a very real opportunity of becoming a European Champion.
Alton Brown (-75kg) produced a fantastic performance wining his first two bouts. Round one saw him convincingly beat AL-WANDI AHMED (SWE)3-1 and in round two with another sound performance beat VIRAG ANDRASfrom Hungary 2-0. In round three he came up against current World Champion, Busa from Italy and in a well contested fight lost 0-2. Busa went on to make the finals giving Alton another medal winning opportunity.
Alton was drawn against MORENO_PAZ FERNANDOfrom Spain and beat him is a very tight match 2-1 to gain a place in the bronze medal fight off against DONA of France on Saturday
Ryan Jay (-84kg) competed against the capable LUCIC DANILO from Montenegro in the first round and disappointing lost 2-0 without a chance to get his ‘motor running’. Ryan remarked that ‘I did not fight to my best’, but he remains positive for the future and keen to build on his experiences here at the Championships.W
W Thomas National Coach
The squad again went to the training venue with their coach's after breakfast to continue their preparations for these championships. Wednesday was registration day which went very smoothly followed by a meeting of congress with the other European Federations. The congress was addressed by Mr Espinos the WKF and EKF President. There are some exciting new things in the pipeline to come from the WKF to which Congress was informed about these included the dates and qualification criteria for the new European Olympic Games of which, karate is a participant but only via membership of the WKF. There are to be some changes to the Junior/Cadet U21 event with additional18 -21 categories. There is also some new video technology which is to be used at these championships which will also include, video analysis, talent ID and performance other exciting new features for coach's of National Federations.
The squad returned by lunch time to the hotel, relaxed and waited in anticipation for the draws.
We have some fighters on today including Kate Karwacinski who met up with the squad late last night and the Individual kata events. We hope to bring you updates via Facebook and Twitter depending on Wi-Fi connection.
Good luck to the squad and coach's for today.
The squad met at Heathrow T3 Monday afternoon for the first leg of the journey to Tampere, Finland. We landed in Stockholm for our connecting flight where we all squeezed on what must be one of the smallest planes ever, to continue the journey to Finland. We arrived at the hotel about 1am and once rooms were sorted it was agreed to meet up for breakfast at 8.30-9am as training was to start at 10am.
Tuesday morning and the squad were taken to the training session which is next door to the competition venue they were fortunate to have the whole training area to themselves, so this allowed the squad to have plenty of room on the mats. As usual kata and kumite split and the squad started training in their respective teams or as individuals. The training was very light with the kata squads going through their chosen katas and bunkai. The kumite were fine tuning some techniques and scenarios. The squad finished around 1pm and returned to the hotel where they were briefed on what was happening over the next few days. The squad are now relaxing before dinner. Some of the squad will return to the training venue tomorrow whilst registration begins at the HQ Hotel. The squad are in good spirits and looking forward to the competition starting.
Photos by Aether Productions and W Thomas
The Kata and Kumite squad met up at Alex Harts Dojo in Waltham Abbey at the weekend. The squad going to the Senior Europeans were also joined by other England 'A' squad member to take part in this training session.
Both Kata and Kumite took part in a conditioning session and although demanding it was enjoyable. The groups were then split to complete their relative specific training with sessions led by Coach's Willie Thomas, Johnathan Mottram and Davin Pack.
Spirits are high with an air of excitement amoungst the squad. With this in mind there is still work to be done before the big event.
The squad will be meeting up during the week to continue their training with their respective coach's and then meet up for a final session on Saturday 26/5/14 again at Alex Harts Dojo.
W Thomas National Kumite Coach
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