The 9th WUKF European Championships

The 9th WUKF European Championships

While Wales was enjoying the best weather of the year so far, the small Karate Wales squad, which attended The 9th WUKF European Karate Championships in Cluj, Transylvania in Romania from Wednesday to Sunday, 5th to 9th April experienced rain and cold weather throughout the week.


The squad comprised only three athletes, Lauren Gallagher and Ryan Williams of the WKU and Vale Karate's Leah Copeland.

The trio were accompanied in Transylvania by Karate Wales' WUKF qualified referee's Andrew Jones and Doru Grad, coach Hugh Gallagher and Coach and Karate Wales President Rob Copeland.

As well as Wales and the hosts, Romania, there were also squads from Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,  Ireland, Italy, Malta, N.Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

As at all WUKF events, the standard overall was very good, excellent at the top end, and numbers were high, but thankfully, as the Championships were spread over four days very late finishes were avoided, and as there were no children in the squad,

This was a Championships for all ages;
Children (12 years & below)
Mini-Cadets (13-14 years)
Cadets (15-17 years)
Juniors (18-20 years)
Seniors (21-35 years)
Veterans (35+)
All categories are further divided, either by grade  in children's Kata or weight in all Kumite categories except veterans, however the veterans also have different age groups, 35-40, 41-45 etc.

Veterans events, Seniors  and cadets Open Style Kata and Openweight Kumite took place on the Thursday, Seniors and cadets 'style' Kata and weighted Kumite events on Friday, all children's events and mini-cadets on Saturday and the finals of the senior events on Sunday.

Ryan was competing in Men's Open weight and Men's -75Kg Kumite, Leah in Ladies Open and Shotokan Kata and Ladies -60Kg Kumite and Lauren in Female Cadet Shotokan Kata, Female Cadet Kumite -50Kg and Female Cadet Open Kumite.

On Thursday Leah took part in Ladies Open Kata and Lauren was active in both her Kata and Kumite disciplines.  Unfortunately, despite good performances, neither could progress to the finals.

In the Men's Open Weight Kumite category, Ryan won his first two fights, beating good opponents, using his reverse punch to great effect.

In the last eight, he lost to an excellent Italian to end his medal hopes, however optimism was high for an equally impressive showing in his weight category the following day.

Friday was a good day for Karate Wales!

 In the Men's -75Kg Kumite Ryan repeated the form of Thursday and fought at his absolute best and went all the way to the semi finals to secure a precious Bronze medal.  His opponent there, the Englishman Luke Cuthbert was too fluid and experienced, and featured in Sunday's final.  However Ryan can be proud of his bronze.  A great achievement.

Both Lauren and Leah took part in their styles Kata and improved on their scores of Thursday with both narrowly missing places in the final.

It was the Kumite where they shone.

Lauren was in great form in the Female Cadets -50Kg category, beating the reigning World Champion in the second round, scoring with several great kicks in her fights to secure a place in the last four.  Leading 2-0 early in the fight, a tough fight ensued with Lauren losing a very close match to take the bronze medal.

Leah was drawn against one of WUKF's dominant figures, Romania's Magdalena Tier in the semi final and gave one of her best ever performances, matching the Romanian in every department.  A great kick from Leah had the spectators cheering, however it was not scored and at the bell, Magdalena had taken a 5-3 win. Magdalena went on to win in the final 6-3.

Three Bronze medals from three athletes has to be seen as a very good result for Wales with all three showing improvements on previous major events.

The next major International event, the IKU World Championships take place in Kilkenny, Ireland in October this year and we hope to attend with a very much bigger squad!

Next years WUKF World Championships also take place much closer to home, in Dundee in June 2018.



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