Karate Wales at the WUKF European Championships for All Ages 2014

Karate Wales at the WUKF European Championships for All Ages 2014

Karate Wales sent a squad of forty competitors from seven clubs and Associations plus eight coaches and a referee to the WUKF (World Union of Karate-Do Federations) European Championships for all ages, which took place in Verona, Italy from 11-16 June.

 

Please click here to see more photos from the competition. ]

 

The squad was joined by dozens of family and supporters. 

This was probably the biggest Karate Squad ever to leave Wales for the continent and was packed with quality.

Thursday was the first day of competition and featured events for veteran competitors in four age bands; 36-40, 41-45, 46-50 & 51+

Heidi Christoforato (Vale) has teamed up with her daughter Kloe in the Welsh Karate League this season to dominate the 'Parent & Child' Kata event. 

Kloe is one of Wales' top young champions, but Heidi, although not a regular competitor, mirrors Kloe's technique and speed. 

In the Ladies Veteran 'A' category Heidi showed that although lacking mat-time, a cool head, more than her fair share of talent and years of dedicated training can pay great dividends. 

Her performance brought the strong Wales contingent to their feet and opened Wales' medal account earning a bronze medal behind two extremely good Italians.

The team Kumite events were for all competitors of 36 and over and it was here that Karate Wales won their first gold medal.

Mark Sherlock (Wattstown) David Roberts (Bushi-Kai) and Gareth Rowe (WKU) formed a formidable trio and again the Welsh supporters were rapturous as Wales beat the men's Veteran 'rotation' teams of France, England and Ireland to send their support into an uproar taking a gold medal for Wales on the very first day! 

All three played a significant part in the triumph, with David scoring an Ippon for a head kick with one second to spare in the semi final to end England's hopes! 

The Veterans Individual Kumite events were less successful for Wales as the quality of the competition became evident. 

Gareth Rowe was an exception as he went through the rounds to reach the last four.

His semi final match against the Irish representative was extremely close, and came down to a single point, which went to Ireland, leaving Gareth with a bronze medal.

Friday was the busiest day, with all children's events taking place over nine areas of the impressive Palasport Arena. 

Chiara Baker (Vale) was Karate Wales' star at last years European Championships, taking the WUKF 10 Years & Under European title.

The Welsh Squad and spectators were thrilled as it emerged that Chiara's main opposition in Verona would come from within the Welsh Squad! With Sumaya Evans and Aaliyah Wiley both from Cardiff Shotokan, joining her in the final. 

After a wobbly start, Chiara was back in fourth place going into the final, 0.3 behind Aaliyah and 0.2 behind Sumaya.

Chiara delivered a great Kata in the final, earning 24.6, Sumaya earned 24.3, with Aaliyah scoring 23.9, meaning Chiara had again taken the European title, just 0.1 ahead of Sumaya who took silver with Aaliyah taking the bronze.

Sumaya and Aaliyah also proved to be the strongest of the entry in the 10 years & Under Girls Kumite division and to the delight of Karate Wales, Sumaya took the European title with Aaliyah the silver medalist!

The talented Keana Hutchinson (Cogan WKJK) at only eight years of age, is already becoming an experienced fighter thanks to the Welsh Karate League. She fought very well before being beaten by the Romanian in the semi final and so took a bronze in the 8-years and Under Kumite.

The Karate Wales squad has many exciting and extremely promising 11-14 year olds in the squad, but the strength of the youth in the squads from all over Europe, in particular the hosts Italy and the formidable Romanians, made winning medals in this age group a mammoth task.

The brilliant Morgan Phillips (Bushi-Kai) was the lone Welsh medalist, he was so unlucky not to go better than his eventual bronze medal.



It was obvious that Saturday's events for cadets (15-17 years) Juniors (18-20) and Seniors (18-35) was going to be a high quality competition with medals hard to come by! 

Our Men's 'Dream-Team' of Luke Howard (KBK) Jordan Hopkins and Jordan Harris (both Bushi-Kai) was not to be, as Harris could not arrive until late on Saturday, missing the team eliminations.

Scott Lewis, who along with Dale Jenkins (both Arashi) won an individual Bronze medal in the 18-20 +80Kgs category was therefore drafted into the team to join Howard and Hopkins.

Against the strength of the National Teams in WUKF nothing short of our best trio would be enough to challenge for the gold, and Wales were beaten at the semi final stage by the brilliant Slovakia team.

In the individuals; Luke Howard's pure class was not to be denied and weathering some tough fights against the best WUKF could offer he progressed to the final on Saturday before finally having to settle for a silver medal in a tough close match on Sunday.

Luke; a double IKU World Champion, has the ability to also go all the way in WUKF and will no doubt be working towards that goal!

Leah Copeland and Amy Davis, both Vale, compete against each other constantly in the Ladies Kumite event of the Welsh Karate League. 

In Verona they competed in separate categories, Leah in the Junior Ladies (18-20) and Amy in the Seniors (18-35) both stepped up a level and quite literally put in the best Kumite performances of their lives, full of excitement for the spectators, to reach Sunday's finals. 

On Sunday Leah was up against the brilliant reigning champion from Romania and although she gave 100% it was not to be and Leah earned the silver medal.

 Her progress in Kumite and Kata, where she also reached the final six, but failed to reach the podium has been dramatic with much more to come.

Amy was the surprise package of the squad. Her final occurred as Luke's ended but on the other side of the Arena. The whole Welsh contingent ran around the stands in order not to miss her final, and such was the support that the Announcer asked, "Wales, please be quiet!" Wales weren't quiet and Amy took the Gold medal in style.

Amy also then competed in the 'Best of the Best' a competition between the different weight category winners. Amy beat the U60K champion before narrowly losing to the +60Kg winner. There were no medals in this category, only the winner earning a trophy.

Karate Wales is a new and developing Governing Body, but with huge potential, and this event was a very big step forward. 

Thanks must go to the Karate Wales coaches who supported the competitors in Verona and who helped prepare the squad for this prestigious event.

Four gold, four silver and eight bronze medals signifies a massive success, with only Federations from Romania, Italy, Poland, Russia and Belarus outperforming Karate Wales!

The final success story is of Andrew Jones our lone referee, who was awarded his Continental Referee Certificate. Well Done Andrew.

The WUKF World Championships for Children, Cadets and Juniors takes place in Poland on the last weekend of October.  

A Karate Wales squad will be attending. Details soon.

 

SQUAD:

Aaliyah Wiley

Sumaya Evans

Gareth Rowe

Lauren Gallagher

Mark Sherlock

Barrie Rees

Sasha Hughes

Callum Mays

Amy Davis

Max Baker

Chiara Baker

Kloe Christoforato

Heidi Christoforato

Josh Dwyer

Harrison Williams

Emma Squire

Leah Copeland

Iestyn Williams

James O’Leary

Megan Taylor

Morgan Phillips

Kieran Hooper

Tomas O’Leary

Jordan Harris

Jordan Hopkins

David Roberts

Keana Hutchinson

Trinity Hutchinson

Krisiny Hutchinson

Connery Hutchinson

Luke Howard

Josh Davies

Dion Jones

Connor Hughes

Cain Francis

Dale Jenkins

Scott Lewis

Jan Kilarsky

Megan Chambers

Wayne Thomas

 

COACHES:

Rob Copeland

Stephen Wellington

Lee Costa

Nigel Taylor

Mike Mainaring

Richard Chambers

Carl Darlington

Hugh Gallagher

 

REFEREES:

Andrew Jones

 

DIGNITARIES

Lee Costa

Gabe Operanta

 

 

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