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36th European Junior & Cadet Championships, Paris, France 2009 - Reports

Final Paris Report

Posted 2nd February 2009
Journey Home & Round-up

Well what can one say, a fantastic championships with England coming 7th overall out of 45 countries. Considering nearly 2 years ago there was a point where we may never have sent a squad again to a Junior European Championships, yet here we are, with a young squad, who are raring to go and are hungry for more, being placed in the top ten countries in Europe.

The squad returned to their hotel last night after the last event, buoyant, enthusiastic but emotionally drained (and a little hoarse from all the shouting and singing), but with a sense of euphoria. The coaches gave the squad a final debrief, which was on a more emotional and personal level on how they felt, the squad had acted, gelled and affected them personally.

The debrief ended with everyone wishing Stephanie Thorndick a happy birthday and giving her the birthday bumps!!! Another nice touch was that Carl Lindley arranged for a birthday cake to be brought to Stephanie at dinner, which was hugely embarrassing for Stephanie!!!!!

Monday morning and the squad gathered for one final time in the hotel foyer. Due to the adverse weather in Paris, the coach was delayed by one hour affecting the squads travel arrangements by Euro Star. The squad had to rearrange travel onto a later train delaying the arrival into St Pancras. The waiting parents were informed and everyone managed to compensate or make alternative arrangements. Once off the train, there were lots of emotional farewells amongst the team as many friendships and bonds had been formed. The squad and coaches then went their seperate ways, sad it was all over but happy to have been part of something special.

Everyone has worked really hard to make these championships successful, from the coaches, management, staff, the sponsor Chikara, Jelinet web support, all the way down to the Parents and supporters. The squad are a credit to their families, their associations and their governing body reiterating the President of the EKF Carl Lindleys sentiments. There was positive comments from the other nations who were pleasantly surprised to see England back competitive, and in full voice.

On a more personal note, Juliette Toney was fantastic as acting head coach, and was instrumental in getting the team to gel and work together. Greg Francis was very motivational and encouraging to the squad bringing out the best in them. It was great to have a current senior member of the National side assist in the kumite coaching in Davin Pack, he brought all his experiences in competing into his coaching. Jonathan Mottram, England's No1 kata exponent who has supported, encouraged and pushed kata to new levels for England, and inspire a younger generation to new height. Surdhur Mohinder, is invaluable and has been there for the squad ensuring their health and physical ability is maintained throughout a physically demanding championships.

Carl Lindley - EKF President, a leader by example, training with the squad, sitting with the squad at mealtimes, sitting with the supporters and squad members in the stands and lending his voice to cheer on the competitors, how many national federation's presidents do that!!!

A big thank you to Chikara Ltd for supporting the squad, sponsoring their tracksuits and supplying the England attire. Having the squad wearing the 3 lion emblem in various guises, helped for the squad's identify. The squad are now big on England hoodies!

To Jelinet and the webmaster.......what can we say, many hours and late nights have ensured a massive awareness of what the National Junior team went through at these championships, which many people don't normally get to see. Families and supporters have been kept up-to-date constantly, everyday, throughout these championships, which would not have been possible without their dedication and hard work.

We hope everyone enjoyed the reports, videos and photos and hopefully for those who couldn't be part of the championships it brought the championships to them.

English Karate Federation

Message from EKF President, Carl Lindley

Posted 3rd February 2009

The England Team has returned with 6 European Junior/Cadet Championship medals. They were in four further Bronze Medal fight-offs and suffered numerous close losses to ultimate medal winners. Not only did every member of this young squad show themselves capable of World Championships success, but they all conducted themselves with enormous dignity, sportsmanship and respect for their opponents. The team spirit was truly inspiring and the support for the English competitors louder than even that of the hosts, France. I feel very privileged to have been part of this event and the future of English Karate looks very bright indeed.

I would like to thank the Head Coach, Juliette Toney, Assistants, Greg Francis, Jonathan Mottram and Davin Pack, as well as Physiotherapist, Mo Surdhar and not least, chaperones, Debbie and Mark Sell, for their enormous efforts over the past week. Our thanks also go to Chikara Ltd for sponsoring the team tracksuits for these european championships. I would also like to specially thank Jel, our Website Manager, for keeping all our supporters informed of every part of the event in such a prompt and professional manner.

Carl Lindley, President, English Karate Federation

36th European Junior & Cadet Championships, Paris, France 2009Posted 1st February 2009
3rd Day of Competition - Juniors

The final day of the championships and the Under 21 year olds take to the mat to finish off what’s already been a great championship for England. The coaches really praised up the squad during dinner last night and the squad is buoyed and ready for action today.

At the stadium some more supporters turned up with their England supporters kit, handing out mini flags, hooters, party screamers, pinned up England bunting and placed flags around the seating areas. England certainly got noticed!

Up first on the mat was Reisha Hull competing in the U60kg event. Facing a Spanish opponent both fighters come out firing but as both launch a Jodan Mawashigeri, the Spanish fighter got the 3 points. Reisha attacked again but all the points seemed to be going to Spain. At 6-0 down, Reisha received a contact warning giving Spain another point which was shortly added to following another decision going Span’s way. Reisha bows out early 8-0 even though she fought really well, she just didn’t get any of the decisions today against the Spaniard. Reisha’s winning opponent made it to the final allowing Reisha the chance to fight in the repechage rounds for a bronze medal. Kicking a series of Ura-Mawashigeri’s Reisha scored 3 points to take an early opening lead over her Danish opponent in her repechage semi-final round. The lead was held until the dying seconds where Reisha giave away a contact warning point reducing her lead. A non-contact warning went against Reisha in the last second but that didn’t affect the result as she progressed into the repechage final. The repechage final was against Germany with both fighters being a little cagey at the start. The first point was awarded to the German on the minute mark and she scored another as Reisha was caught with a punch after trying a Chudan Mawashigeri kick. Reisha pursued her opponent but got caught again and the fight ended with Reisha losing 4-0 settling for 5th overall after just missing out on European bronze.

The complete opposite opening round for Carla Burkitt fighting in the U53kg event. Carla came out fast and sharp and the Macedonian opponent had no reply to Carla’s fast hands as she scored with practically every attack. Carla walked off the mat early an 8-0 winner. Carla’s 2nd round fight was a lot tougher as she walked into a Jodan Mawashigeri kick within the opening seconds of the fight. A Gyakuzuki punch reply from Carla reduced the deficit to 2 points and she pressurised her Turkish opponent into every corner trying to score. But the next point went Turkey’s way making the score 4-1. A contact warning for the Turkish fighter reduced the score to 4-2 but Carla just simply ran out of time to claw the points back. Carla made the repechage semi-final and faced a Swiss opponent in this round. Carla scored the opening point with 30 seconds gone. Another point to Carla and a penalty point for contact given away by the Swiss saw Carla take a 4 point lead. Another point opened the gap to 5 and another Swiss warning gave Carla a 7-0 lead. A final point going Carla’s way and she sees off her opponent with a convincing 8-0 leaving Carla in the repechage final fighting for bronze. In the final the opening point goes to Carla against her Hungarian opponent but gives away a contact warning point levelling the score at 1-1. Carla extends her lead again with a Gyakuzuki punch and scores with it again to lead 3-1. A Jodan Gyakuzuki 1 point score extended her lead to 4-1 and another took it to 5-1. Then 6-1 almost immediately after just being awarded her 5th point. Carla gave away another warning and 2 points went to the Hungarian bringing the scores back to 6-3, but Carla held on till the end to claim European Bronze medal.

The boys were up next with Ross Mathieu competing in the U68kg event facing a Georgian opponent in his opening round. Both fighters come out charging and an energetic fight ensued but neither fighter scored until the end where the first point went against Ross. Ross then got penalised for the second time for contact giving away a vital point. As Ross chassed the fight he was caught once again at the death eventually bowing out early 3-0 down despite his spirited effort.

Gareth Hains competed in the U78kg event and faced a big opponent from Belarus. Both fighters scrapped hard but neither scored until near the end. With 15 seconds left on the clock Gareth’s opponent nicked a vital point to take the lead. Gareth tried to get the point back by the clock ran down before he could reply and was another early casualty like Ross on the other mat.

After a lengthy break for the supporters, they found their voice again as both Rio Smith and Michael Campbell both take to the mats at the same time but at opposite ends of the hall.

Rio Smith faced a Slovakian opponent in her opening round fight of the Over 60kg event. Rio started well throwing a number of techniques at her opponent but lost the opening point early on herself. Rio continued to press trying to level the scores but just couldn’t pin her opponent down. With 23 seconds left on the clock, the Slovakian caught Rio once more to extend her lead to 2 points and put the fight beyond Rio as the clock ran down. Rio did make repechage as her opponent made the finals and Rio faced an Greek opponent in her repechage opening round. Rio starts well and is denied and opening Jodan Mawashigeri score as her opponent stepped out of the area. Another step out and Rio received the first point following the Greeks warning. Rio then got a bonus 2 more points as her opponent steps out once more backing away from Rio’s barrage. Rio uncannily then got caught four times by her opponent counter Gyaking her to lose the lead to her opponent with the score to 4-3 now against her. She pursued her opponent until the end but couldn’t score against her bowing out before the medal round.

Michael Campbell was competing in the Over 78kg event and faced a Macedonian opponent in his opening round encounter on the mat in front of the England supporters which ensured he got a lot of encouragement as the sound of ‘Come on England’ flooded the stadium. Michael did well scoring the opening point with a Gyakuzuki punch and followed it up early on with another to double his lead. Michael then swept his opponent to score picking up another 3 points for the technique. His opponent did reply with a 2 point Chudan Mawashigeri kick but Michael wasn’t going to let the lead slip and scored another Gyakuzuki punch to see out the fight 6-2. Michael’s 2nd round fight against the Serbian was close going to extra-time and the vote. Michael got the opening Gyakuzuki point with a sweet clean punch but then got caught with an over-the-top Jodan Gyakuzuki to level the score. Michael regained the lead but dropped the last point at the death levelling the match once again. The extra-time minute fight ensued with Michael taking a knock mid way through the fight which gave him a point following the Serbian’s contact warning. Michael doubled the score to 2-0 before the Serbian replied with his own Gyakuzuki. Michael then dropped the last point following a step out of the area at the death which once again tied the score calling for the judges vote which all went Michael’s way seeing him into the next round. Michael then faced a Dutch opponent in the next round and went 1-0 down early on. Shortly after he was 2-0 down falling to another Gyakuzuki. Michael harassed his opponent trying to score but slipped on the mat and his opponent went in to score 3 points. However, the points were withdrawn as Michael had received contact to the face. Still 2-0 Michael chased the fight again but slipped at the end blowing his chances of catching his opponent to bring back the score. Michael looked sharp but was just unlucky this time round.

And so the day ended with another Bronze for the squad courtesy of Carla Burkitt meaning the squad medalled at every level, cadets through to the U21’s. The final squad tally for England from these Junior European Championships was a 1-2-3; 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze totalling 6 medals, one of the largest hauls for a long time.

The squad have been fantastic its’ been a great week filled with some wonderful memories, the team have been truly inspirational. The squad have set a standard now for all to aspire to. The England National Squad are back where they belong, roll on the world championships in Morocco Oss!

It’s been a privilege to bring you daily updates on the squad progress, and include photos of the training and competing. The web masters at Jelinet have been working tirelessly too to download the reports, sort and sift through the photos and edit the video clips so the EKF members and general public have a website that is the best Karate website in the world for news and information. Big OSS to them to as it has been a real team effort all round.

Posted 31st January 2009
2nd Day of Competition - Juniors

Day 2 of the championships and this time it’s the turn of the Juniors to impress and surpass the exploits of the Cadet squad members who did very well yesterday. The squad were a little bleary eyed in the morning having to get up earlier for the 7:30am coach.

The two Kata competitors were up on the mat first ahead of the Kumite competitors. Emma Lucraft was up against a strong Italian girl in the 2nd round match after securing a bye in the 1st round. Emma performed Bassai-Dai but lost out 5 flags to 0 as her opponents Kanku-Dai proved too strong.

Jack Dixon also received a 1st round bye and was straight into round 2. Jack performed Kanku-Dai, as did his Croatian opponent but Jack got the flags 3-2 in his favour. The 3rd round saw Jack perform Unsu against his Russian opponent’s Kanku-Sho and Jack stormed to a 4-1 victory to make the semi-finals. Jack performed Kanku-Sho against his Slovakian’s Chatanyara Kushanku but unfortunately this time the 4-1 vote went against him leaving him the repechage semi-final. The next round Jack faced a Serbian opponent who performed Gankaku. Jack matched his Kata and won the round 3-2 to make the repechage final. Jack performed Goju Shiho-Sho against his Austrian opponent’s Sochin and Jack stormed to victory with a 5-0 win to claim European Bronze.

The Kumite fighters were on next with both Jay Kirton and Ben Coward fighting at the same time on different mats. Ben Coward, who was competing in the U61kg event came out feisty harassing his Slovenian opponent and eventually scored a 3 point Jodan kick. As his opponent advance Ben picked him off with a series of Gyakuzuki punches to win the fight 6-0. The 2nd round pitted Ben against a Czech opponent and both fighters fought a cagey fight as they both tested each other. On the minute mark Ben took the lead courtesy of his opponent’s penalty point for contact but Ben returns the favour almost immediately. Suddenly a clash of heads/face with 30 seconds left on the clock and Ben is penalised with disqualification.

Jay Kirton was competing in the U555kg event and came out fast and furious against his Scottish opponent but was unable to score until 39 seconds remained on the clock and Jay threw a Ura-Mawashigeri to score 3 points. The Scottish lad pulled a point back before the end but Jay had done enough to advance into the next round. Up against a German fighter in the 2nd round Jay has another fast and furious fight. The German gave away a penalty point away within the first minute and Jay extended his lead shortly after with a Gyakuzuki punch. The German then gave away a series of contact warnings and finally get disqualified handing the match to Jay. The 3rd round saw Jay have a rough encounter with his Turkish opponent who seemed to have double-jointed legs countering Jays Ura-Mawashigeri kick with his own to open a 3 point lead. Pressing forwards Jay got caught by the same technique again to go 6-0 down. Jay got penalised a few times for holding and with the score at 9-0 the match is won by the Turkish competitor. Jay did make the repechage semi-final and scored the first point against his Croatian opponent. Jay then conceded a Jodan Mawashigeri only to reply with his own to maintain a 1 point advantage. The Croatian then gave away a series of penalty warning points to Jay with him sealing the match 7-3. The repechage final saw Jay against a Russian but Jay is unperturbed and scores the first point. Jay received his second warning for holding and a point to his opponent levels the score. But Jay is now fighting for bronze and goes all out for that point which he gets on 30 seconds left. Jay holds out till the end to secure European Bronze.

Stephanie Thorndick was up next in the U53kg category. Stephanie looked in good shape but dropped two early points to her Serbian opponent. Stephanie then chased the fight and although she picked up a point she eventually bow at 5-1.

The over 59kg category saw Charlotte Platts in action against a Slovakian competitor. Charlotte initially dropped two early points but quickly pulled it back to 2-1 to narrow the score. However, she gave away a penalty point for contact before succumbing to two more Gyakusuki punches finally losing out 5-1. However, her opponent went on to make the final allowing Charlotte a chance of a medal through repechage. Her 1st repechage round was against Cyprus and she looked a different fighter opening up her account well with two quick Gyakuzuki punches. She then kept the momentum going running out a 7-0 winner. The 2nd repechage match saw her face a Danish opponent. Charlotte scored three times without reply until her opponent found her rhythm and brought the score back. Points went both ways with the fighters end the match 6-6 to take it into extra-time. The Danish competitor scored the initial point and then picked off the advancing Charlotte to win the extra-time bout 3-0 leaving Charlotte out of medal contention.

Both Alex’s were in action at the same time but different ends of the hall. Alex Kinsmore competed in the U76kg category and fought a tough opening round match against a Slovenian opponent but eventually came out a 4-2 winner after coming back from an opening 2 point deficit following a Chudan Mawashigeri kick. The 2nd round match saw Alex face a Serbian opponent and Alex kept his winning ways going beating him 6-3. The 3rd round is where Alex’s medal hopes ended as Alex initially gave away a penalty point to his Ukrainian opponent before getting caught with a Gyakuzuki punch. Alex pulled back a point but then lost out again to another Gyakuzuki punch. A final Jodan Mawashigeri kick ended the match 6-2.

Alex Sell competed in the U68kg category and received a 1st round bye. The 2nd round pitted him against a Dutch opponent. A spirited encounter ensued with Alex scoring the only point with 30 seconds remaining and held off his opponent to win the fight. The 3rd round had Alex against a Russia opponent and both fighters fought an edgy fight with neither scoring. After the 1 minute of extra-time the scores remained 0-0. The judges decision vote all went to Alex who had been the busiest taking the fight to his opponent most of the time. The 4th round saw Alex against a Norwegian and Alex dropped an early point. Following two contact warnings Alex gave a penalty point away to this opponent giving him a 2-0 lead. Alex pulled back one point but got caught by a Gyakuzuki punch shortly afterwards. Chasing the fight in the dying seconds Alex thought he had won it following a Ura-Mawashigeri kick, but the referee overruled the judges flag handing the match to the Norwegian with a 3-1 win.

Saule Del-Rio made en early exit in the over 76kg event after facing a Serbian opponent. Both fighters scored a point quickly two more points were divided levelling the scores at 2-2. The Serbian than managed to score two Gyakuzuki punches against Saule leaving him missing out on further progression as he couldn’t reply to the 2 point deficit.

Last but not least, Alice Goudie was fighting in the U59kg category and her opening round fight was a spirited affair against her Finnish opponent. Alice thought she had initially scored a Jodan Mawashigeri kick but her opponent had just stepped out of the area and so her kick did not score. She carried on the fight and with 30 seconds left the Finnish opponent somehow scored against Alice. Within the last 10 seconds of the fight her opponent was penalised for holding which levelled the scores 1-1. Extra time ensued and Alice once again dropped the initial point but she pulled it back in the dying seconds securing a win with a 2 point Chudan Mawashigeri kick. The Finnish opponent gave away a final point through a contact warning leaving Alice with a 3-1 win which saw her into the next round. Alice’s second round fight was a lot more comfortable against her Serbian counterpart. Alice scored the initial point and doubled her lead through a contact penalty warning by her opponent. As the Serbian advanced Alice scored a Ura-Mawashigeri kick to go 5-0 up. Another Serbian contact warning gave Alice a 7-0 lead but Alice herself gave away a penalty point at the end to win the fight 7-1. Alice’s 3rd round opponent was from Holland and Alice started where she left off by scoring the opening point. Shortly afterwards Alice gave away a penalty point for contact levelling the scores to 1-1. Within a few seconds Alice reclaimed the lead from a Gyakuzuki and scored another towards the end to claim a 3-1 and a place in the semi’s. The semi finals saw Alice against a feisty Portugese competitor but, Alice held her own scoring 2 Gyakuzuki’s to seal her place in the final. The final saw Alice against some French home grown talent. With the partisan crowd behind the French competitor, the English Supporters responded to try and give Alice a boost. Alice came out attacking and was unlucky to concede the opening point. Alice continued to attack but once again was caught to go 2-0 down. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Alice let rip but nothing caught the judges eye and dropped a final point. Although unlucky not to win gold she came away as a Junior European silver medallist, a major achievement.

Again there was terrific support from families and friends of the team, it was also nice that the English Karate Federation President Carl Lindley sat with the squad and supporters to cheer the competitors on. Also there have been Club Instructors and some senior team members watching and supporting the next generation of senior squad hopefuls.

Again, upon the squads return to the hotel, the coachs congratulated the Junior members who had competed and said how proud they were of the team and what true team spirit they showed. Carl Lindley reiterated the coach’s sentiments adding that England was back and a force to be reckoned with. The squad then retired for the evening in anticipation for the final events on Sunday.

Posted 30th January 2009
1st Day of Competition - Cadets

What a day… It started early with the squad congregating together at 8:15 waiting for the transportation coaches to take them to the stadium for the first day of competition. All on the bus swiftly enough and were soon inside the stadium waiting for the tournament to officially start.

The Cadets, 14-15 year olds were the only ones competing today, the Juniors are on tomorrow with the under 21’s on Sunday.

The Kata competitors were on the mats first with Rachel Newey up before Mitchell Roberts had taken to the mats. Rachel performed Bassai-Dai in her opening round against her Maltese opponent’s Kanku-Dai Kata. The flags went 4-1 in Rachel’s favour safely seeing her into round 2. Her 2nd round saw her compete against a competitor from Belarus. Rachel performed her second compulsory Kata, Seienchin whilst her opponent performed Bassai-Dai. The flags went 3-2 but this time they went against Rachel scuppering her European medal hope by the narrowest of margins.

Mitchell received a 1st round bye and was straight into the 2nd round with a choice of compulsory Katas to perform. Mitchell performed Bassai-Dai but his opponents Kanku-Dai won the round with a 4 flags to 1 decision.

The Kumite competitors were up next with Oliver Doyland competing in the Male U52kg category. Oli received a warning within the first 10 seconds in his opening round fight but held it together scoring a Gyakuzuki punch and then picking up another point from his German opponent to win the fight 2-0. Oli’s 2nd round fight was against a Spanish opponent and both athletes went the whole two minutes without scoring a point against each other. In the extra-time the ensued, the Spaniard scored a 3 point Jodan Mawashigeri kick almost immediately. It took Oli nearly the whole remaining minute to level the score with his own Jodan Mawashigeri. With the scores tied at 3-3 following extra-time a vote was called, 2 flags each but the referee’s decision went to the Spaniard knocking Oli out in the cruellest of ways.

Chloe Cooper competed in the U47kg event and looked like one of the smallest competitors in this event. She fought a Ukrainian opponent in the 1st round and received a few hard knocks for which her opponent gave away 3 points in total. Chloe held her opponent off until the dying seconds where the Ukrainian girl delivered a 3 point Jodan Mawashigeri to level the score and take the fight into extra-time. After one minute of extra-time the scores remained unchanged and the decision went to the judge’s vote. All voted for Chloe who progressed into the next round. Round 2 saw her fight like a little lion spurred on by her previous win to take the match 6-0 against her Greek opponent. The 3rd round proved a little tougher for her as she fought a tricky Croatian. Chloe scored the first point with a Gyakuzuki punch with 45 seconds remaining but just 15 seconds later her opponent equalised to level the fight 1-1 and take it into extra-time for her. Once again extra-time failed produce a score from either competitor and the judge’s decision was called once more. Surprisingly she lost the vote 4-0 even though \Chloe did most of the pressing and attacking. Fortunately the Croatian went on to make the final leaving Chloe in the repechage rounds. After almost missing her semi-final repechage match she finally scores with just over a minute left on the clock and holds out for the win over her Armenian opponent. Now in the repechage final and going for Bronze she found herself up against a tough ‘leggy’ Turkish opponent. The Turkish girl scored a 3 point Jodan Mawashigeri against Chloe very early on and then caught her again shortly after. Chloe began to fight back claiming a point to reduce the deficit but as she pressed she was caught once again by a Jodan Mawashigeri kick ending her bronze medal hopes losing 9-1.

Kate Karwacinski competing in the U54kg event followed Chloe but failed to make it past the opening round as she was caught by a Jodan Mawashigeri kick 30 seconds from time. Kate tried to get the points back but just couldn’t get through the Belgium’s guard to score.

The best result of the day was Ryan Jay securing Gold in the U57kg event. Receiving a 1st round bye it was straight into the 2nd round. Ryan scored the initial opening point against his Spanish opponent but gave away a penalty point towards the end levelling the scores and taking his fight into 1 minute of extra time. Ryan made no mistakes as he scored a 3 point Jodan Mawashigeri kick to win the match 3-0. The 3rd round pitted Ryan against a tougher Slovenian opponent. Ryan took the initial lead and extended it to 2 points with another Gyakuzuki punch. However, Ryan gave away a penalty point to his opponent before extending it he lead once more. The fight finished 3-2 in Ryan’s favour seeing him into the semi-finals. The Hungarian opponent was no match for Ryan who scored a Gyakuzuki punch and followed it up with a Jodan Mawashigeri to win the fight 4-0 and make the final. Ryan’s final was held at the end of the evening following the opening ceremony. Ryan faced a Greek opponent but had no plans on handing any golds back to Greece. Ryan did drop an early point getting caught in the Greeks Gyakuzuki punch but quickly levelled with his own Gyakuzuki punch. Ryan followed this up with a Jodan Mawashigeri. As Ryan’s opponent advances to reduce the deficit Ryan picked him off with another Jodan Mawashigeri. His opponent did manage to steal a point at the end but it was too little, too late as Ryan becomes European Champion with an 8-2 victory win behind him.

Harley Del-Rio fought in the U63kg category and was unlucky not to walk away with a medal finishing joint 5th overall. Harley’s 1st round fight finished in a 2-2 after he initially lost the first two opening scores. The extra-time round saw both competitors failing to score and so it went to the judge’s decision. All voted for Harley. The 2nd round saw Harley against in another close match against a lad from Scotland. Once again the scores remained tied at full time, 0-0 this time round. Extra-time once again but Harley scored a point with a Gyakuzuki punch. Shortly before the end his opponent was penalised for excessive contact giving Harley that all important extra point to see out the match with a 2-0 win. The 3rd round and yet another tied score. Harley initially dropped the first point in this hard and fast fight with his Serbian opponent but levelled the score with 37 seconds left on the clock. Midway through extra-time, Harley scored a lovely Gyakuzuki punch and held the point advantage till the end scoring as the buzzer went to settle the match. Harley’s next fight was the semi-final against a Turkish opponent. The initial point went Harley’s way as did the second point but the Turkish opponent found his way ‘over-the-top’ scoring on three continuous occasions to take a 3-2 lead. As the buzzer sounded Harley landed a Gyakuzuki punch but the referee would not award the point after some consultation. Harley was in the repechage final though facing an Azerbaijani opponent. Harley fought the repechage final cagey but got caught twice with a Gyakuzuki punch to trail 2-0. The last 15 seconds saw Harley really go for it but just didn’t have enough time to find a way past his opponents defence. Harley just missed out on Bronze settling for joint 5th overall.

Adam Clements competed in the under 70kgs event and faced a Dutch opponent in his opening round. Adam dropped an early point but 2 warnings for holding and pushing to his opponent levelled the score to 1-1. After a slight break in proceedings to tend to Adams nose, he came out firing but quickly dropped 2 points to a Chudan Mawashigeri. Adams opponent then feigned an injury giving 2 points back to Adam to level the scores at 3-3. With 8 seconds remaining Adam’s opponent holds once again and receives his final warning for disqualification, handing the match to Adam. The second round saw Adam pitted against a Belarus opponent. With the scores 3-2 against Adam and only seconds remaining on the clock, Adam not only managed to level the score but nicked a final point to win the match 4-3. The third round saw and England V France encounter. Both athletes went for a Gyakuzuki punch but the score went to the French competitor. The French opponent scored again before Adam started giving away penalty points. A Jodan kick and 2 Gyakuzuki punches saw the French competitor win 8-0, leaving Adam in the reperchage rounds. Adam needed to win 2 rounds to claim bronze but failed in the semi final round against his Serbian opponent. Both went in for a Gyakuzuki punch in the first 10 seconds but the score went to the Serbian. On the minute he was another point down and shortly after that, 2 more points down as each time he punched the Serbian was given the score instead. This left Adam having to settle for joint 7th place.

Joshua Gagon had a thumping encounter with his Slovakian opponent in the +70kgs category. Joshua looked like he was on his way with a 3 point lead only to let it slip at the end making the scores level at 3 all and taking the match into extra time. Once again Joshua opened the scoring but then gave away too many penalties and had to bow out in his opening round match losing 7-3.

Hannah Baker lost the initial point to her Turkish opponent in the opening round of the +54kgs event however, Hannah scored a thumping chudan Mawashigeri with 20 seconds left to take the lead. Within the final 10 seconds her opponent pushed her giving away a penalty point and extending Hannah’s lead to 3-1. The 2nd round pitted Hannah against a tall Russian girl but she was unperturbed and scored on the minute to take a 1-0 lead. 30 seconds later Hannah doubled her lead scoring another Gyakuzuki punch to finish off her opponent. The third round saw Hannah score a Gyakuzuki punch on the minute once again against a Slovakian opponent and frustrate her opponent to keep the 1-0 lead to the end securing a win. The fourth round was the semi final against Bosnia Hertz. Hannah was 1-0 up within 10 seconds and 20 seconds later 2-0 up. Hannah scored her 3rd point before the half way mark, and 2 more Gyakuzuki punches saw her extend her lead to 5-0 . Hannah’s opponent scored a last minute point but it made no difference to the outcome and securing her place in the final. Like Ryan before her, her final was held after the opening ceremony in the centred spotlighted mat. Hannah fought a cagey fight against her Belgium opponent but dropped an early point and another towards the end which ended up her claiming a silver medal.

Hannahs fight was the last of the day and after the medal ceremony everyone headed back to the hotel for dinner and an early night. The coach’s congratulated everyone as did the EKF President Carl Lindley. After some encouraging words for the squad competing tomorrow everyone made their way back to their rooms for an early night.

Thank you to all the supporters, friends and families who came to watch and support the younger members of the team. Good luck for everyone tomorrow.

Posted 29th January 2009
Day 4

Thursday, the quietest day so far and most certainly the lull before the storm. The squad has been resting all day, no training, just relaxation in preparation for the start of the tournament tomorrow. The coaches have spent the majority of the day registering the athletes at the official HQ hotel, a very slow and methodical process.

Saw a few more National squads, the Welsh and Italian teams are camped in the hotel next to ours with the Italians lunching in our ‘Courtepaille’ hotel restaurant late afternoon. The England squad certainly don’t look nervous, they are more fidgety with anticipation eager to get on the mat. Let’s hope they keep their positive attitude going all weekend long.

The coaches returned from registration shortly before dinner and called a team meeting. The team were given their competitor passes and were split into 4 groups assigned to a specific coach for the duration of the championships. The groups were mixed and they were given a final ‘Pep’ talk by their coach.

The team then sat down to dinner and everyone looked relaxed. Not before too long the squad left for an early night ready for an early start in the morning.

The team are in high spirits and have formed a good team bond. Everyone is looking forward to tomorrow, let the competition begin . . .

Posted 28th January 2009
Day 3

It is Wednesday today and the coaches have decided to change the training format from two sessions down to one extended session. The squad has been given a rest morning allowing them to get a luxury lay-in and have a more relaxed breakfast before meeting up after lunch for the day's training, same venue, just different time.

Last night's meal was nice (veal, followed by apple pie) with the squad and coaches all sitting together in the restaurant. The squad are gelling together well mixing together on and off the mats which is good to see.

The afternoon's training went well once again but this time instead of having exclusive use of the training hall, the National Karate team from Denmark turned up to share the hall. It was very interesting to see the English squad up their work rate to look even sharper, faster and more aggressive in front of their opposition which shows the great attitude they have to these championships.

Tomorrow the squad are likely to get the day off from training, not least because of the French national strikes taking place. There will be no busses, trams, coaches, etc running from 8:00pm tonight for 24 hours so everyone will be pretty much stranded. At least the squad will get a rest before competition day – Friday.

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EKF Squad TrainingPosted 27th January 2009
Day 2

2nd Day in Paris and it was an early start for the squad, meeting up before breakfast at 7am to head off to the training venue, which is located within the competition stadium. After travelling to the stadium the squad got ready for the warm-up session which was taken by Assistant Kumite coach Davin Pack. The squad then divided with Kata Coach Jonathan Mottram taking the kata students to one end of the training area, leaving Juliette, Greg and Davin to commence the kumite training for the remainder of the squad.

The squad worked on drills and techniques before Juliette gave the team a moral boosting pep talk. This was the first morning training session at the stadium in Paris and the coach’s were keen to get the squad mentally prepared for the championships.

This was a light but focused training session and when the session ended the squad headed back to the hotel for a late breakfast: you have never seen croissants disappear so quickly!!!!

The hotel staff have been very accommodating, keeping the breakfast area open later for the team and ensuring the squad are well-fed which is just as well as they worked up quite an appetite.

After a few hours rest the squad met up again at 2:00pm for round two of their training schedule. This session was a fully padded up session which gave the cadets the opportunity to train in the new WKF protective body armour and face mask protectors. The session was focussed on technique with the Kumite competitors were put through their paces by coaches Juliette, Greg and Davin with Jonathan concentrating on the Kata competitors once again. The Kumite squad was eventually split into three groups with one coach working on each of the groups. The session ended with each coach sitting down and having a pep-talk session with their group, Jonathan included.

Finally it was back to the hotel and a chance for the squad and coaches to freshen up before another hearty three course meal served up in the hotel restaurant.

It’s been fairly quiet in the hotel so far but the coming days will see another 3 or 4 national squads turn up which should make things a little busier.

EKF Squad at St PancrasPosted 26th January 2009
Day 1

It was an early start for the England Cadet, Junior and U21 squad, plus the coaches and parents travelling to London’s St Pancras Station to catch the Eurostar train to Paris. The young squad dressed in their England tracksuits kindly sponsored by Chikra, received some admiring glances from some of the early morning commuters with many enquiring what they were representing England in with some even taking their own photos.

Whilst congregating by the Eurostar departure gates, the squad got a welcoming boost by a visit from the some of the Senior National Karate squad team returning from Wasquael, France after competing in an international tournament. Alton Brown, Gemma Marwood, Mellissa Lewis and Natalie Williams had a few photos with the young junior squad and coaches, gave them a few encouraging messages and wished the squad well.

The departure of the Eurostar train to Paris was delayed by 30 minutes which gave EKF President Carl Lindley plenty of opportunity to address the squad and let them know what was expected of them whilst representing their country. Soon enough the squad had boarded the train and were heading for Paris but were held up outside Ebbs Fleet by another 30 minute delay. Luckily the squad seemed oblivious to this as they played cards, read their magazines and generally chilled out.

Soon enough the announcement that we had arrived at Paris Nord station was made and eagerly everyone collected their luggage and made their way to the waiting coach to take them squad to the hotel.

Upon arrival at the hotel, the rooms were allocated out with the squad given 20 minutes to come back down for a team debriefing, which they all did promptly. The new WKF approved body armour for the 14-15 year olds had successfully been delivered to the hotel (phew) and was collected and distributed out to the athletes.

The squad met up again at 7:00pm for an evening meal in the hotel. Carl Lindley took the opportunity to speak to the waiters and sort out the menu for the squad for the coming week ensuring everyone would be catered for. Surprisingly there weren’t too many deviations from the main dishes. Thank goodness Carl speaks fluent French.

Tomorrow the squad head off to the sports hall for their first training session, an early morning start for all.

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