Karate Wales can reflect on the 10th WUKF European Championships For All Ages, in Malta, as a milestone.
Ranked eighth of fifty-five federations present and with a squad of forty-nine athletes and six coaches, amongst almost two thousand total entries, Karate Wales earned their best ever tally of ten gold, four silver and eight bronze medals, which could have been an even more impressive tally, as there were many Welsh Karate athletes who shone, but were unable to clear the final hurdle to reach the podium.
Vale Karate, based at The Dojo at Barry Leisure Centre had eight members of the squad and every one of them impressed!
Jakob Bartush, just six years old, was the youngest member of the squad. He competed in both the Under 7 Kata and Kumite events.
Last season’s Welsh Karate League Under 8 Kata Champion, he is already used to pressure and wasn’t overawed by the huge arena packed with competitors, officials and supporters and reached the finals of both events, winning the Kata and earning a silver in the Kumite!
Talia Efstathiou, was the class act in the 10 years Girls Kata event and established a substantial lead in the first round, adding to it in the final to comfortably take the Gold medal.
Mayzi Lee, the youngest of three sisters in the squad showed grit and determination to progress through the rounds, earning a great silver medal in the Girls 7 years Kumite, 10 year old Elle-Mai, in a larger group also had to dig deep, earning a bronze medal.
The eldest of the Lee’s, fifteen-year-old Alysha, had the toughest job ahead of her going up against many seasoned internationals!
She was in brilliant form winning round after round, and missed a place in the final by a whisker, earning a bronze medal.
Alysha and team-mate Grace McIntosh were members of the Wales Female Cadet Team, which reached the final, only to lose narrowly to the strong Romanian team, earning silver medals.
Emillie Thompson is regarded by the coaches at Vale Karate as possessing huge potential! Her talent is unquestioned, and she was unlucky not to progress to the latter rounds.
Chiara Baker was the final Vale member of the squad, competing in one of the biggest categories, the 13-14 Girls Kata.
Twice previously a WUKF European Champion Chiara easily negotiated the first round, being in the top six of well over thirty competitors.
Her second round Kata also earned her a good score but she was tied with two others for a place in the final six.
Her next Kata was the subject of controversy as the tatami chief suspected a mistake, although this was not the case, and video evidence wasn’t looked at, lower than expected scores were the result and Chiara missed the final by the narrowest of margins.
Vale Karate has long been Wales’ most successful club, and has won the Welsh Karate League for the past six seasons! This season however, they are in second place after four of seven events, so the WKL top club award is in the balance!
WKL 5, takes place at Cardiff City House of Sport on 25th November.