The USKFI squad travelled to the UK over the weekend to participate in the KUGB's 50th National Championships. This prestigious event attracts Karateka from all over the UK with hundreds competing for a spot on the podium and to go down in the history books along with other greats before them with the title of National Champion.
(Leon Hoban in the Kata final)
The USKFI had a small but mighty squad representing us on the day with a mixture of seasoned competitors and youth at the early stages of their competition career. The focus for the younger members is never on the silverware but on gaining essential experience needed to help them develop as competitors. First to take to that mats were Shay Kelly, Donnacadh Murray and Amine Ghanem. Both Shay and Donnacadh put on some fine performances in their events proving to be tough match ups for their opponents. Unfortunately luck was not on their side on the day and they were both narrowly beaten by a wazari after taking the lead in their matches. Amine Ghanem was also a little unlucky in the sense that at the young age of eleven years he was a little tall for his event and was moved to the next event which was the under 15yrs boys event. Amine had the option of pulling out but this was never a question for Amine. Where other competitors backed out Amine showed great courage for such a young competitor and was ready for the battle ahead. He put on a fantastic display and proved to be a real challenge for his bigger, stronger and more experienced opponents. Amine fought so well scoring with some excellent decisive techniques. In the 3rd round Amine met his Welsh opponent. It was a tough match up for Amine and after a sharp exchange between the competitors Amine found himself a half a point down. He showed great determination to try his best battle his way back into the match but unfortunately the clock was against him and he ran out of time. It was a tremendous display all round for our younger competitors where they gained some vital experience.
(Amine Ghanem in action)
Next up it was time for Yacine, Leon, Sean and Leeanne to take to the mats. In the first round Yacine met current European Champion Callum Wilson. It was a tough match up but Yacine stood his ground and battled away. It was a good display from Yacine but unfortunately luck was not on his side and he lost the match this time around by a narrow margin. Sean was next up in the 18-20years Kumite. Unfortunately Sean proved too strong for his opponent and was disqualified for contact after his Jodan mawashi geri drew blood from his opponent. It was also a similar fate for Leon in his kumite match. Leon has come on so much and has gotten stronger but unfortunately this added strength was to be his downfall. Leon scored with a well timed jodan gyaku tsuki which was borderline ippon but due to injury sustained to his opponent the contact was deemed excessive and Leon was unfortunately disqualified. Although a little disappointed with the result Leon didn't let this effect him and went on to perform exceptionally well in the children's Dan grade Kata event. Leon stormed through the eliminations beating some very tough opponents en route to the final. In the final Leon met current European Kata Champion Abdul Saif. Leon performed a superb Nijushiho in the final where he eventually settled for silver medal being beaten by a very small margin by Saif's Gojushiho Sho.
To finish up another great day on the mats for the USKFI competitors we saw Leeanne Royle make the progression to the 16-20 yrs girls Kumite. Another very tough event but Leeanne rose to the challenge ahead beating some very experienced opponents on the way. Leeanne made it to the semi finals where she met with former European and World Champion Beth Nicholson. A very tough but intense match that went to the wire. With each competitor one wazari up it was who'd be brave enough take the risk and go for the final score. Leeanne made her move with an ushiro geri that narrowly missed her opponent but Beth didn't let the opportunity slip and barraged forward with a sharp combination. Leeanne defended well but was caught after her counter attack was a little short of the target. Leeanne eventually settled for bronze after a fine display in what had proven to be a very tough event.
(Leeanne Royle in action)
All in all the squad performed very well and both squad coaches Sensei Sherlock and Sensei Royle were very pleased with the efforts from all our members on the day. Next event up for the squad is the Liverpool Youth Championships and we look forward to seeing our members take to the mats once again. Congratulations all!!
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