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WUKF U21 Championships Brazil 2010
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2010 WUKF World Under 21 Karate Championships

Sao Paolo , Brazil

Its been 12 years since Brazil hosted a major International Karate event .

The last one in 1998 was in Rio at the Maracana Indoor Arena but intercity rivals Sao Paolo were set to outshine their compatriots in a big way.

Sao Paolo is a city some 60km from the Brazilian coast and supports a population of some 23 million people , one of the biggest cities in the world.

 

WUKF President Mr Osvaldo Messias de Oliviera runs a Federation of some 120,000 members from this impressive city and was our host for the 2010 World Under 21 World Championships.

The England squad stayed at the Bourbon Convention Hotel in the centre of Sao Paolo , a luxury 4 star hotel positioned opposite a huge shopping mall which was bigger than Lakeside and Blue Waters put together.

The relatively small squad of 12 athletes 2 officials , 3 coaches and a physio/osteopath arrived at the beginning of the week to settle in and acclimatise for what was to be an extraordinary weekend.

Coaches :- Abdu Shaher , Ian Cuthbert and Brad Moore.

Officials :- Azad Kumar and Sonia Powell

Athletes :- Jason Marquis , Dan Thackray (male juniors).

Charlie Collins , Greg Gentleman , Adam Carrigan-Smith

Mitchell Roberts , Jack Downton (male cadets).

Ami Wright-Hamilton , Shauna Carroll , Maddison Moore

Holly Roberts (female cadets)

Liam Powell (children under 15).

Expectations were mixed , the squad was an excellent one but we were far from home with a partisan crowd supporting a huge home entry. There were also squads from 24 other countries , many significantly bigger than our own.

The event was a three day competition with individual kata and team kumite on the Friday and the reverse on the Saturday i.e. individual kumiteand team kata.

The Karate England coaches ran light training sessions on the days preceding the tournament as all the heavy training had already been done at home in the months before. No fight offs needed , no unnecessary running , sparring etc . This off course left the athletes hungry for action and raring to go on the first day.

DAY 1

The Friday sessions began with Individual kata and surprisingly the Shito Ryu entry was relatively small compared to the extensive number of shotokan competitors. This of course was to the advantage of the England squad as most of their kata competitors were Shito Ryu style.

The old maxim still stands up `you can only beat the people set before you `. The England squad set about their work with a relish. Mitchell Roberts and Jack Downton made the final in the male cadet , Holly Roberts and Amy Wright –Hamilton made the final of the female cadet , Jason Marquis and Dan Thackray both made the Junior(18-20 final) and Mitchell , Jack and a rather reluctant Charlie Collins made the final of the cadet male team kata.

In the team events the female cadet team looked very impressive making both the Sanbon final and the team Rotation final. The boys (cadet) ran into a strong Italian team in the quarter final of the rotation and went out but they did make the final of the Sanbon event destroying a very big Serbian team in the semi final.

DAY 2

On Saturday the individual events did not start well for the England team . The first five athletes up all went out in the first round of their kumite categories. Greg Gentlemen who had fought so well on the previous day in the team event OUT ! Mitchell and Holly Roberts OUT! Maddison Moore harshly disqualified OUT! Adam Carrigan-Smith also a star in in the previous days team events OUT!

England coaches Abdu Shaher and Ian Cuthbert had a brief meeting to collect their thoughts . Things were not looking good !

Don’t panic !!!

Up came the cadet female heavyweight with current European Champion Shauna Carroll and her own personal nemesis and current English Champion Ami Wright –Hamilton.

Both of them showed superb form and coming from different ends of the draw managed to both make the final , ensuring England first Gold of the weekend.

Meanwhile , current European silver medallist Charlie Collins was storming his way through to the final in the cadet male Over 75k.

Later in the day the Juniors got into action and although Dan Thackray went out first round to a Brazilian opponent , team mate Jason Marquis managed to make the semi final where he battled out a 2-2 draw with an Italian opponent . The fight went to extension and Jason lost on a referees decision. Our first definite bronze!

DAY 3

Sunday was finals day.

First up were the Kata events. In the Junior Shito Ryu the two England competitors took bronzes but in the cadet we were more successful .

In the male cadet Shito ryu Mitchell Roberts lost by .1 to his Italian rival with two very different performances of Superimpei , Jack Downton also got a worthy bronze with a spirited Chatanyara Ku Shanku.

The female cadet kata saw Holly Roberts facing up to the Italian Champion and seeing her off by .3 in a dramatic final . Ami Wright –Hamilton also took a bronze in that section.

The team kata saw Mitchell , Jack and Charlie take a bronze. To be fair to Charlie Collins who is fundamentally a kumite man , he did well to step in and fill the breach after former English Kata Champion Oliver Briggs had dropped out. It says something for the England team that half their 14 medals tally was in kata and the other half in kumite. Good all round balanced karateka.

We had three individual kumite finalists in Charlie , Shauna and Ami.

Charlie was up first. Male cadet over 75k. His opponent was a Serbian. In last years European Championships Charlie had lost 6-0 in the final to another Serbian who in fact had earned a bronze in the other half of the draw the day before.

Charlie although big for his age looked small compared to his older opponent . He was not to be deterred. The score went 1-0 1-1 2-1 2-2. Sometimes in Charlies favour and sometimes against. At 5-5 it went to extra time and after a flurry of techniques the Italian referee overruled the Serbian s punch and Charlie immediately replied with a chudan mawashigeri which scored and won the fight for him. Another Gold!

In the female cadet Over 60k we had an all England final with Shauna and Ami battling it out. Coaches Abdu Shaher and Ian Cuthbert had the luxury of sitting to one side and smugly letting the girls get on with it. The bout was tight but with Ami gradually pulling away on points , there was a clash of knees and Shauna had to retire through injury. Still Gold and Silver to England .

We had three team finals to contest , all unfortunately against home town Brazilian sides/ The Brazilian squad was enormous and had been preparing for sometime for this event , including several seminars with Christophe Pinna. Their general movement around the tatami was excellent and their speed in attack quite alarming.

If England could win one of the three it would have been a good day , was the general feeling.

First up was the male cadet sanbon. Greg Gentleman took the fight to his opponent and stacked up a comfortable points win in his usual calm , brave manner. Adam Carrigan-Smith was up next and although he had been unbeaten the previous day in the eliminations , he struggled with his fight and eventually lost .

This left the match at 1-1.

Out last for England was Charlie Collins. Having just won his individual event he was on a high but carrying a hip injury. His Brazilian opponent seemed `up for it` but must have just seen Charlie in action as he couldn’t seem to quite commit himself to attacking with any conviction. He threw himself around but in such a manner that he drew mubobis from the Romanian referee , with the score at 4-0 to Charlie the referee lost patience and disqualified the Brazilian giving England the Gold medal.

The female cadet sanbon was next. Having lost Shauna through injury Holly Roberts had to step into the breach. Maddison Moore took the first fight but Ami Wright –Hamilton having won her individual section looked completely out of sorts and lost her match. This left Holly , who rather inexperienced, was nevertheless determined to have a go. The match went this way and that and Holly showed some excellent composure and with coach Abdu Shaher urging her on she came out on top 6-5 giving England their second team Gold.

Almost immediately they were called for their team rotation final. Against Brazil yet again , but a different three Brazilian fighters. A specialist team for rotation.

Ian Cuthbert coached the final and showed that he has learned a little about tactics in this excellent format. Team rotation is surely the spectator event of the future !

The match ebbed and flowed with England changing between Maddison and Ami , but the inexperienced and light weight Holly had to go on at some point to avoid disqualification (all three fighters must fight if the match goes the full 6 minutes).

With England one point ahead and one minute left on the clock Holly went on and stood firm conceding only one point. There was a chance to change and Ian put Ami on and she showed her champion pedigree by wrapping up the contest giving England three out of three in the team events.

Although we had only 12 competitors we took 14 medals (6 gold 2 silver and 6 bronze) , the best results from an England squad since 1996.

Congratulations to the squad , the coaches and our officials Azad Kumar and Sonia Powell who both were involved in a number of finals , and thanks to Carla Downtons efforts in keeping everyone fit and healthy (including some of the parents !!!).

We should mention the breathtaking opening ceremony with Japanese Taiko drumming and the Brazilian band and their glamorous carnival dancers. The free seminar conducted by Christophe Pinna , the excellent organisation and presentation of the whole event.

Well done WUKF for yet another superb competition.

The England squad now look forward to the European Cup in Cluj , Romania in late September.