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51st Senior European Championships, 5-8 May 2016 - Montpellier, France
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The day started again with the kata eliminations. First was Navin Patel in the Junior male kata. He had a bye in the first round then performed the kata 'Annan' against Macedonia, winning 5-0, so a great opener. In the 3rd round Navin faced Croatia and did 'Superimpei' kata with great timing and fast punches, then a good jump kick at the end to secure a 4-1 win. Into the the semi-final against a truly excellent Russian he did a good 'Chatanyara Kushanku', but lost 5-0. The Russian went on to win the event. In the repechage final, Navin performed 'Nipopo' against Montenegro and his relaxed speed made his opponent look slow. European Bronze Medal - well done!
Aimee Sell was England's selection for the junior female kata. Aimee is experienced and works hard; this was immediately apparent as she showed great composure in the first round against Sweden, where she performed 'Nipopo' to win 5-0. In round 2 she faced Turkey and gave a mature performance of 'Annan' kata to win 4-1. She also outclassed her Latvian opponent in the 3rd round, winning 5-0 with 'Suparimpei'. Into the semi-final against Ukraine, where she chose 'Chatanyara Kushanku', where she showed power and energy throughout, winning 4-1 and securing a place in the final. In the final Aimee performed 'Unshu' kata well, but not quite the way she did in the other rounds and lost 5-0 to an excellent Spanish competitor. Still, a fantastic result and European Silver Medal!
Alex Gardner was next in the male under 21 kata. He drew a very good Italian in the first round, where he performed 'Kankusho' kata, but lost 5-0. The Italian went on to the final, so Alex was entered into the repechage. In his next contest against Germany, he did a very strong 'Unsu' kata, with a high jump at the end, to win 4-1. A very close next bout with Greece was the repechage semi-final and Alex's speed in the kata 'Enpi' took him through 3-2. One more bout for a Bronze Medal and Alex did 'Gankaku' kata, with an explosive technique at the start and a perfectly executed 360 degree spin, led to him beating his opponent from Slovenia 3-2 for the Bronze. Fantastic!
We had 6 individual competitors in the kata events and won 5 medals, including two Golds! A number of very senior officials approached the EKF President to say that from nowhere, England is now one of the leading kata nations. Much of this is attributable to the work of National Kata Coach Jonathan Mottram, who has done England proud at these championships.
England had 9 competitors in the various Kumite events today. Even with three coaches, this was chaotic, particularly when urgent medical help was needed to treat small injuries, but ensured the athletes were ready for the next round. Our Physiotherapist, Mo Surdar, suggested a two-way radio system, which is not a bad idea. The problems can also be in communicating with stadium staff; our own Assistant Coach Paul Newby, Yorkshire born and bred, asked a question to be told by a staff member that he didn't speak French!
Callum Holmes was in the male junior under 55Kg event. Callum is a great fighter, but lost a very close first round to a French opponent 2-1. Unfortunately, the French competitor did not make it past the semi-final, so no repechage.
Jake Kiernan was really on form in the under 61Kg event, beating his Scottish opponent 8-0 in the first round. In the second round, he was against a truly excellent Danish fighter and it was 2-2 right until the final seconds, when the Dane scored a point, which was a shame as Jake would almost certainly have won on 'flags' as he had been the far more energetic fighter. The Dane reached the final, so Jake was in the repechage and his next bout was against Greece, where he won spectacularly with a score of 9-1. He then beat a Romanian 2-0 for a place in the repechage final and a Bronze medal for the winner. Unfortunately, it was not to be and Jake got behind and his opponent from Azerbaijan just scored as he tried to catch up. Final score 6-3. Still, a very well deserved 5th place in Europe.
Joe Kellaway was next in the under 68Kg event and was trailing 1-0 in the first round, when his Slovakian opponent rather helpfully got himself disqualified. Joe then lost 3-1 to a good Danish fighter, who unfortunately did not get to the final, so no repechage.
The female events were next, starting with the under 47Kg and Lauren Tutty. She showed confidence, maturity and good basic skill to beat her Portuguese opponent 3-0 in the first round. She then beat her Macedonian opponent 4-0. Lauren then faced a very good Croatian fighter and they were very evenly matched, leading to both being too cagey and both being warned for not doing enough. The last 30 seconds of the bout were excellent and at 1-1, the Croatian girl scored and Lauren was unlucky not to be able to equalise. This was the quarter-final and so Lauren faced a Swiss opponent for a place in the repechage final, but neither girl scored and the Swiss won the bout on 'flags'. 7th place.
Sophie Santillo is another good fighter who had an unfortunate first round. She lost to a very good Bosnian girl 4-1, but the Bosnian lost in the semi-finals, but went on to win the Bronze Medal, but no repechage place for Sophie.
Charlotte Wastell looked good in the under 59Kg competition, but she is after all a World Champion! She seemed to be easily beating her Portuguese opponent 3-0, nearing the end of the bout, but she has been warned for grabbing and for stepping out of the area; Charlotte pushed her hand out past her opponent's head and was disqualified. A bit unlucky and no place in the repechage.
Jasmine Pomeroy was in the under 59Kg event and had the most incredible first round. She kept trying and failing to beat her first round Greek opponent to the punch and was losing 6-0, when she finally listed to Assistant Coach, Davin Pack, and started to 'pull' her opponent first. Well she started scoring easily and pulled it back to 6-5, before running out of time. Shame, but she has great potential for the future. No repechage place, unfortunately.
Ashley Taylor was also unfortunate to lose a close first round bout in the under 76Kg male event. His Norwegian opponent won 2-1 and went on only to win a Bronze medal, so no repechage place for Ashley.
Jamaal Otto was in the heavyweight category. He fought tremendously, with sharp combinations and a huge range of techniques. He must have pretty good genes, being the son of 9-times World Champion, Wayne Otto! Jamaal beat an athlete from Georgia 1-0 in the first round and then an opponent from Hungary also 1-0 in the second. He then beat the Russian competitor 5-1 in the quarter-final. He faced Denmark for a place in the final and it was an excellent bout, with both evenly matched, but Jamaal looked the more energetic of the two. At 1-1, the Dane scored with a punch, making Jamaal have to apply pressure to equalise, when he walked on to a kick for three points. He then had to wait to meet the repechage finalist for the Bronze Medal. He fought a very good Ukranian, but at the end of the bout it was 3-3. Jemaal had very clearly tried the hardest and thrown the most techniques and won on 'flags' to take the Bronze for England. Superb.
We have only won one Kumite medal so far, but have lost three repechage finals! We have also got to five repechage semi-finals. The Kumite Team also looks very good and credit must be paid to National Kumite Coach, Willie Thomas. The EKF President, Carl Lindley, was approached by other national federation presidents and VIPs at the championships to be told that England has shown itself to have completely re-established itself as one of the foremost Karate nations. When the EKF was formed, we had lost both continuity and a lot of good athletes, but the hard work has paid off and these championships have shown that England has an excellent future.
This event has been well-organized and the Turkish Federation has been hospitable. Everyone was invited to a display of 'whirling dervishes', spinning round and round; an interesting and spectacular piece of local culture. They also put on a demonstration by a very disabled karateka who performed a kata with such determination in the face of extreme adversity that it led to spontaneous cheering and a standing ovation from the whole stadium; a very moving experience.
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