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44th European Championships Sofia Bulgaria 14-19 February 2017
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Day one of the pre-train started on Monday 30 th April but for many of the athletes this was on the back of a gruelling two day course of performance weight lifting, sprinting and 2 x two hour Karate sessions.
Session one got off to a cracking start with everyone working hard. The session focused on reaction, distance, focus and timing. Head Kumite coach Willie Thomas and assistant coach Paul Newby kept a close eye on athletes using video analysis to provide feedback. Athletes were required to peer assess each other’s performance and contribute to the decision making process.
The day was not without its hick-ups as two athletes (Jordan Thomas and Gavin Bailey) sustained injuries. Jordan was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure and was found to only have soft tissue injuries to his toe and Gavin pulled a muscle in his chest. Both required initial first aid and on-going monitoring. Gavin will be back on day 3 but Jordan will start light training at the end of the week. They are both predicted a full and timely recovery for the championships next week.
Day two is competition day and athletes were up bright and early for a 06.30 start for the ‘Spiking’ session head by coach Newby. ‘Spiking’ is a reference to a pulse raising drill to prepare the athlete to perform in their first fight. So many athletes get off to a slow start (if they get through the first round) because their bodies are not warmed up and ready to go.
Special guest speaker Alan Whitton from ‘Fighters Mind’ attend the encore hotel, Ipswich to present a seminar on motivation, visualisation and mental preparation. The athletes were deeply engaged and actively participated in the seminar activities. All who attended started the benefit of the now life learnt skills they can now apply to their preparation and approach to competition.
A great and worthwhile session, I to learnt a great deal re-enforcing the need for such a now specialist and recognised addition to the preparation of any athlete.
Firstly a big thank you to Sensei Billy Brenan who organised and was chief referee at this mini but highly charged event. The idea was to make it a more formal event aside from the norm to include it as part of the session. Each athlete was now required to ‘Spike’ and prepare themselves to perform. The sight of referee’s in full regalia, score boards etc. helped to charge the atmosphere to a real competition feel. In addition to a dress rehearsal of ‘spiking’ the athletes were fresh from the motivational guest speaker Alan Whitton.
There were some outstanding bouts and some with areas to improve on for next week.
All the bouts were videoed and later on in the evening were analysed by coaches Willie and Paul. One-to-one feedback and video analysis will be given to each athlete to assist in guiding and increasing their performance levels. The men completed a round robin and the ladies participated in two team matches, which gave them a chance to practice their team strategies and dynamics.
Billy Brennan than gave the squad a useful insight into the new rules and answered the many questions they posed in response to his feedback. Excellent job Billy, Thank you.
On a more sombre note, the squad observed a minutes silence in memory or our dear friend Suzanne Genery who passed away after a long battle with cancer the previous night. Not all the athletes new Suzanne but they would have all of benefited from the contribution she made to English Karate. Our thoughts are with the family at this time and we bestow our deepest sympathies.
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