In May the team from JKA-England managed a very impressive medal haul in the European championships held in Serbia.
I was lucky enough to be invited to go with the team as one of our country’s referees. We flew from Stansted to Sofia, and then took a three hour coach journey to Nis in Serbia. A slow border crossing meant the team arrived at the hotel very late. 2am - a very strange time to sit down to a protein packed meal!
The following day was a Friday and we took the opportunity to do some sightseeing before the referee briefing in the evening.
It’s at meetings like this that the hours of study and revision needed to pass the JKA-England referee qualifications pays dividends.
The tournament started the following morning. If any of the team were nervous, they didn’t show it. The tournament was decided over six areas (tatami). Being a referee meant that I was unable to watch the progress of our team, only seeing the ones that competed in my area. Those that I did see put up a very good performance, and they could all be proud of their achievements.
The venue Itself was a cauldron of emotion. At one point acting as a corner judge, the centre ref was shouting the commands to the competitors just 4 meters from me, and I couldn’t hear a word he said over the massive noise made by the audience.
The Medal Haul
Viktor Lam - 2nd Kata
William Cunningham - 3rd Kata
William Cunningham - 1st Kumite
Viktor Lam - 3rd Kumite
Tosan Awani - 2nd Kata
Victoria Walsh - 1st Kumite
Endri Krasniqi - 3rd Kumite
Also, 4th Place in Kata for Abigail, Alfie & Endri.
Girls Team Kumite 3rd
Boys Team Kumite 2nd
I was selected to be one of the judges for the finals that ran into the evening. But, I’m sure our competitors who won medals didn’t feel at all tired!
The following day was team events. Again the atmosphere in the venue was outstanding. Our teams did very well both the Boys and Girls getting medals against quality opposition.
All in all a great performance from our squad that bodes well for the future of Karate in England. A very well organised trip by the JKA-England team and the coaches, and a privilege to be invited to represent us as a referee.
Above - sightseeing in Nis
Left the team of judges I worked with from Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, Russia and Hungary
Sensei Ohta in action, the Girls Team and the squad at the airport