At the weekend the USKFI International squad travelled to Chesterfield in the UK to participate in the KUGB Shotokan Cup. The USKFI had a total of thirteen competitors representing Ireland at one of the top Shotokan competitions the UK has to offer. For some of our junior squad members this was their last tournament on the international circuit and they were certainly out to impress meanwhile for our more seasoned competitors this was a perfect prelude for the World Championships coming up later this month.
In the junior events we witnessed Eva Thunder, Hannah Stewart & Caoimhe Galligan Byrne dominate the girl’s 10-11yrs kumite event. After some fine performances the USKFI took home 1st, 2nd & 3rd place in this particular event. Eva taking her second title in only her second international event, Hannah bagged silver whilst Caoimhe took home bronze. The USKFI girls are going from strength to strength with each championship and showing great potential for the future.
In the boy’s 10-11yrs Kumite we had Shay Kelly & Ryan Cronin flying the flag for Ireland. Ryan put on a strong performance in his match but unfortunately it wasn’t his day and was narrowly beaten by his opponent. Shay Kelly; a member of the USFKI squad for over a year now has that little bit more experience which stood to him on the day. Shay stormed through the eliminations with some real dominating performances showing his versatility with different strikes scoring well on his opponents. Shay secured himself a silver medal in this event after a close final bout. Shay also performed really well in his Kata event making it through to the quarter finals in what was a very tough event.
In the girl’s 12-15yrs category we saw newcomer Lisa Behan Meagher take to the mats like a complete natural. For her first international bout Lisa showed the composure and the confidence of a seasoned competitor. Although no medals for Lisa over the weekend she gained something more valuable than any medal and that’s the experience of competing at this high level. Lisa has a bright competition career ahead which she will carry this experience to.
A regular to the international podium Sophie Farrell was up next; after breezing her way to the final with some superb performances in the eliminations she met Mia Hillsden. It was a repeat of the final of the Youth Championships earlier this year. Although she didn’t manage to bag the gold this time around Sophie is showing a maturity and consistency in her performances. Sophie is reaping the rewards now for her years and hard work and dedication to her art.
With both young ladies performing so well over the weekend squad coaches Sensei Sherlock & Sensei Royle have decided to reward their efforts by selecting them to represent Ireland at the European Championships later this year.
Next up were the 12-15yrs boy’s kumite. Although relatively new to the International team; Blacklion’s Dylan Anderson held a good account of himself. Dylan stood toe to toe with an excellent fighter from one of the KUGB’s top clubs and even though no medals for Dylan this time he is showing the potential of becoming a top fighter in the future.
Also representing the USKFI in this event was Leon Hoban. Leon is consistently improving and growing in confidence notching up crucial competition experience with each tournament that passes. He is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with and was unlucky to not make it to the final after a very close contest in the quarter finals. Leon did manage come away with a bronze medal for his efforts in his kumite event as well as bagging the title for the 12-15yrs boy's Kata event. A great result for Leon for Leon and a nice prelude for what's to come for World Championships later this month.
For the Junior Male events we had Yacine representing in the cadet 16-17yrs while Sean & Lee were in the 18-20yrs category. Probably two of the toughest and most physical events on the schedule for the day. Each of the lads held a very good account of themselves and in some instances were a little unlucky. With Shobu ippon the margin for error is very fine and in one exchange can change a match for an athlete in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately this time around there were no medals for the lads but we can be very proud of their excellent performances throughout the day and how well they represented the USKFI.
Last but not least we saw Leeanne Royle make her full return to competition after taking some time out to concentrate on her studies. Leeanne took up where she left off last year dominating in both her Kata & Kumite events. After some superb performances in the eliminations Leeanne secured her place in the final for both Kata & Kumite. Leeanne performed Kata Kanku Sho in the final where she eventually took silver after being narrowly beaten by .1 of a point. In the kumite Leeanne showed her experience, composure & a high level of skill to secure the title of ladies 16-20yrs Kumite Champion.
That brought a close to another fantastic day of competition for USKF Ireland. The team topped the medal table coming away with a total of 3 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze .The whole team performed superbly and although not each member medalled it was a team effort .....from our youngest competitor to our most seasoned competitors, from the coaches to our referees and judges and of course the very supportive parents that came along to cheer on the team the camaraderie between each member was inspiring to say the least. The USKFI are proud to have such an amazing team supporting us and representing us at these events. Thank you all and congratulations.