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44th European Championships Sofia Bulgaria 14-19 February 2017
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The final day of competition began with thunderous rain pummelling the stadium ceiling. But even natures worst was no match for the intensity within the stadium as over 40 countries primed their athletes for the last day of competition.
First out were the Male Kata team: Numan Nasim, Dahni Maisuria and Connor Hewitt against Slovakia. This young team performed Empi kata with great maturity and skill but were soundly beaten 5 – 0. Nevertheless great hopes for them in the future.
The girls team of Natalie Payne, Melissa Williamson and Abbie Cook faced the Italians in the first round. Although they executed Nipaipo well they were soundly beaten by the exceptional Italians who won through to the final. This of course gave the English girls a way back and they were excellent beating the Ukrainians 4 -1 with Annan Kata. Next out for the repercharge final they had the French team. The English girls execution of Paiku and their impressive bunkai got the crowds attention. The French in contrast seemed nullified by the dynamism of the English performance and were clearly the losers that day. Unfortunately the referees did not agree and the girls lost 4-1. After a debrief from the National Kata coach it transpired that the absence of a bow at the beginning of the repercharge final sounded the death knell for the English team.
The fighters were out next led by the current European medallist Kate Karwacinski. Kate, matched against a strong French opponent, fought a tight fight but was just beaten 2-1 after a series of even exchanges.
Former World Champion Charlotte Wastell was next out and immediately was chasing her German opponent who out-timed her with perfectly executed counter techniques winning 6-1 and putting out another strong medal contender.
Next out was Connor Rowe-Williams nephew to Natalie Williams and possessing the same fighting spirit and ability. His Belgian opponent however was too sharp and picked Connor off.
Ben Slater suffered a similar fate. Losing to his French opponent 2-0 after coming off second best in a series of exchanges.
Things did not improve with Jacob Kiernan outgunned by an exceptional Turkish fighter 9-1.
Thankfully all was not lost. Kate Karwacinski came back in via the repercharge and showed why she is a World Class athlete. She broke the will of her Turkish opponent with an exquisite sweep and punch and went on to win the bout 6-1. Her Swedish opponent in the next round made a valiant attempt to dominate but Kate controlled the tatami and punished her with an exquisite hook kick winning 4-1. Now in the repercharge final Kate was feeling the intensity and pressure but the calming influence of her coach Paul Newby settled her for the Bronze medal fight off. Again Kate’s timing and countering against a hungry Swiss fighter was exquisite and after a few tense moments as the clock ticked down she won a well earned bronze, 2-0.
As the squad Captain Kate led by example throughout pre-training, during down time and most importantly on the tatami. She has the respect of the squad and the EKF staff and is unquestionably one of England’s finest.
So another Championship drew to a close with 3 Bronze medals and England …..on the medal table. For the English athletes, exposure to an environment that they can only learn from and get back to brighter and better.
In closing I would like to say thanks to our selfless and tireless chaperones Jess Hickman and Claire Maisuria. They looked after the athletes fantastically and are a credit to the governing body.
Congratulations to the National Kumite Coach Willie Thomas his Assistant Paul Newby and the National Kata Coach Jonathan Mottram for reaffirming the fact that English Karate is in a healthy state.
Special thanks to Mo Surdhar our Physio who is mercurial in his curative and preventive abilities. The athletes were in the most experienced hands that English Karate has to offer.
Thanks to Board member John De Bono and his wife Jane whose presence amongst the athletes gave the squad an even greater sense of value. A massive thank you to Blitz Sport who sponsored the National Teams clothing and kit it is greatly appreciated.
Last but not least thanks to all the families, friends and coaches who took the time, effort and expense to come out to Lisbon and support the ate England karate Team at the most credible and prestigious European Karate Tournament. The EKF Board recognise your commitment and are greatly appreciative.
Greg Francis – Head of Delegation
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