Vale Karate hit the ground running as The new WKL season got off to a flying start at the impressive Newport Centre.
This is customarily the biggest WKL event of the season as a strong Irish Squad is usually in attendance, and such was the case in Newport, with the IKAW. Also present were the strong ASKA GB squad who like Ireland, attended with sixty odd category entries.
Therefore, with the addition of all the usual Welsh clubs, it was a very big competition, a very hard competition and a very long day!
The Special & Para kata event was a clean sweep for Vale in the U14 section with Connor given the nod over Jared in second and Brad in third.
Lucas has moved into the 14 years & above section and not surprisingly was up against it and took a bronze medal.
In the Parent & Child Kata event, our teams of Mike & Kian and Mark & Ella took bronzes.
The new Junior Team Kata event was an exciting development, more so for Vale Karate than most, as we fielded no fewer than six teams! All six teams have potential, and a special class, on Wednesdays at 5pm has been established to help them develop, however our best hopes for medals in such a high quality event, with seventeen teams entered, was our more experienced karateka, the 'Vale Samurai' (Alysha, Ella & Lauren) and the 'Vale Warriors' (Ella, Ellie-Jayne & Danica)
The Warriors progressed to the final where against all odds and against older competitors, they took well-earned bronze medals. The Samurai may well have joined them in the final, had they not decided to change Kata after the first round and just missed out.
In a strong field of 19 competitors, Vale had five entries in the Junior Shotokan Kata event, unlike the Age-group events which are single gender but any style, this is open gender and open age (8-15) Junior event, nevertheless Ella, Chiara & Danica all made the final six with Ellie-Jayne and Griff just missing out, surprisingly so perhaps.
In a final of quality, Chiara took silver with Danica, who has not competed for a couple of years, but has huge potential, taking bronze.
We have a strong presence in the U8 Girls events and cleaned up, with Angel Manayani, a 5 year old prodigy taking gold in the kata ahead of Amelie and Elle-Mai.
In the kumite it was Amelie's turn to take gold with Elle-Mai taking silver.
We are laden with talent in the U10 Kata events and the novice category saw Nathan Shepherd taking gold, Daisy Van taking silver and Talia Efstathiou earning the bronze medal. The U10 Advanced category saw another Vale gold medal with Gregory James triumphant.
Holding up the Kumite side of the U10 spectrum was Annie Manayani in the Girls event and in the boys, Kian George & Jay Forsyth, who all took bronze medals.
Ella Lyons and Ellie-Jayne Farrugia have moved into the U12 Advanced category, but did well. Ella missing the final by a narrow margin and Elllie-Jayne taking a silver medal. Rhydian Pullin was our lone U12 Boy competing and as usual he threw everything into both his events, but without success on this occasion.
Vale are threadbare in all U14 Novice categories, but Elliot Butcher on his return to competition and Jack George, although not Kata medallists in Newport, have the potential to do much better as the season progresses.
Jack will be among the favourites in the Kumite and underlined that to an extent with a bronze in Newport.
Vale Karate have an absolute abundance of talent in the U14 Girls events! Of the eight medals in the U14 Girls Kumite and U14 Girls advanced Kata, Vale won 6!
Chiara Baker won the overall Champion of Champions last season, but this season will bring fresh challenges in the U14 events.
In Kata, she was pushed into second place after a tie, and was joined in the last four by Danica Apologista and, after the Kata performances of her career, Lauren Moran.
Lauren also made the last four of the Kumite, taking another bronze, with Alysha Lee also taking a bronze and Ella Forsyth going all the way to take the gold medal!
It has to be said that the vast majority of the Vale squad is under 14 years at this point in time, a weakness that cannot be denied, however all our efforts will go into developing this big and talented group.
The obvious exception is of course Leah Copeland, who at twenty-one has already been Wales' Number one all-rounder for a few years. Leah was joined for the first time in the Ladies Kata event by Emma Squire, who has had a year away from the WKL but came back with a bang with a solid bronze medal in a big and high quality event. Leah took up where she left off last season, peerless in kata in Wales and added another gold medal to her collection.
The Ladies Kumite was also a huge category with two pools needed, Leah won her pool after three 6-0 wins, she won the semi-final against a quality English Lady 6-5.
n the final she faced the multi-international medalist Lauren Crawford and missed the 'double' after a tough fight.
Mike George took a bronze in the end Veteran Kata, and the day ended with a silver for our U10 'Vale Vultures' team of Greg, Nathan and Annie Sheldon and an excellent gold from our U14 'Vale Champions' team of Jack, Alysha and Sam Stacey.
Although third on the medal table, no mean feat, and beaten only by the 'national' IKAW and ASKA Squads, Vale Karate won well over twice as many medals and points as any other Welsh Squad.
The WKL continues in Wrexham in July.