On the 26th of February the USKFI kicked off the competition season with the 4th USKFI National Youth Championships. Although the Youth Championships is a relatively new event to the USKFI events calendar it's always a well-supported competition with over 130 junior athletes in attendance. With squad coaches Sensei Sherlock & Sensei Royle overseeing from the main table it's a perfect opportunity for the USKFI's up and coming stars to showcase their skills and impress the on looking spectators.
(Kingscourt SKC's Siofra O Reilly attacks with a jodan mawashi geri)
With a number of events to suit all ages and grades of Karateka everybody got a chance to flaunt their talent and entertain the expectant audience. Throughout the eliminations and finals there were some outstanding performances. The day commenced with the Children's Kata events. For the children's Kyu grade Kata event we saw Santry SKC's Jacob Betache taking the title after sailing through the eliminations with his strong Kata performances. Greystone's Patrick Cavanagh took the title for the Children's kata 11-15yrs after a fine performance of kata Heian Sandan in the final.
Probably the largest event of the day we saw over sixty of our brown & black belts battle it out for the coveted prize of Brown & Black Kata Youth Champion of 2017. In particular this is a very tough event with so many excellent athletes on show. Phibblestown SKC's Ray Foysal took home the title by unanimous decision after his solid performance of Heian Godan in the final against Greystones's Ryan Cronin. Two very impressive young men with a bright competition future ahead of them.
(Greystone SKC's Ryan Cronin performs Heian Yondon in the final)
We witnessed a little star in the making Blacklion SKC's Lucy Kennedy dominate the children's Sanbon kumite event. She met a very talented Saoirse Waterhouse in the final where after a very close contest she eventually took home the title. Two young athletes we are sure will be regulars to the podium.
We saw a talented young lad Conor Meagher taking the title of the Ippon Kumite event after meeting Zanshin NI's Ben Todd in the final. Again another close final from two very sharp young men. After coming very close in previous championships Conor worked hard and finally staked his claim as the Ippon Kumite Youth Champion for 2017.
As we moved onto the Jiyu Kumite events we witnessed a very special day for the Corduff SKC's Ghanem brothers. The three brothers dominated the boy's kumite events with all three taking home the title in their respective events. We saw Nadir on his Kumite debut battle it out against Kildare's Sean Quirke for the boy's 10-12 yrs kumite under 5"3 title. Nadir's sharp gyaku tsukis were just a bit too quick for Sean to deal with and eventually Nadir took the title.
Amine Ghanem ran the show in the boy's kumite over 5"3 event. After a very strong performance in the final against Lucan's Dmitry Kavanagh he took the well-deserved top spot on the podium. The most impressive performance from the three boys’ was Yacine Ghanem; he certainly led the way for his younger brothers to follow with his superb performances throughout the day. Yacine who recently turned sixteen made the difficult progression to the boy's kumite 16-20yrs. A tough ask for most competitors but this did not phase Yacine in the slightest; he took to the event like a natural where he outshone his opponents. With his lightening hand speed Yacine battled through the eliminations beating much older and more experienced athletes en route to taking the title.
(Blacklion's DJ Anderson scores with jodan gyaku to secure top spot of the podium)
In the boy's kumite over 5"5 event we witnessed DJ Anderson take first place against Lucan SKC's Finn O Connor. Although only a kumite fledgling Finn is clearly following in the footsteps his older experienced brothers Sean & Ciaran who are regulars on the podium. He proved to be a tough opponent for young DJ but this title has slipped through DJ's grasp in the past and he wasn't going to let it get away this time around. DJ was determined it would be him standing on the number 1 position on the podium as he scored with a super Mawashi geri jodan to take the title.
In the girl's over 5"3 kumite event we saw Sophie Farrell take the title; Sophie although at the tender age of 15 shows her wealth of experience and continues to dominate this event. In the girl's under 5"3 event Zanshin NI's Laura Diamond took home the title after a strong display and well timed gyaku tsuki's against Corduff SKC's Nadia Nya. A special mention for Eva Thunder who took bronze in this event also; one of the smallest and youngest competitors in this event she showed great karate spirit and courage in her matches. Eva was unlucky to not make the final but certainly a little star in the making. Watch this space!!
To finish up what was another fantastic entertaining day of competition for both the competitors and audience alike it was time for Sensei Sherlock & Royle to award the prize for the most outstanding competitor. Although there were a few contenders after some superb performances from many of the athletes throughout the day there could only be one winner. It was by unanimous decision there was only one winner worthy of the award after his tremendous performances throughout the day and that was Corduff SKC's Yacine Ghanem. Sensei Sherlock congratulated and presented Yacine with this well-deserved award.
This final presentation brought a close to another very successfully run event from the USKFI. It is clear to see that the high standard set from the top down in the USKFI is trickling down to our younger upcoming stars. Sensei Sherlock & Sensei Royle were particularly pleased with the strong, spirited attitude and high technical standard of Karate from everyone who competed. The USKFI would like to congratulate all of the competitors and also thank the USKFI officials, parents and spectators, make this Championship such an exciting event.
We look forward to seeing all our members back on the mats for the USKFI National Championships coming up in April.