Recently North West Shotokan Karate Club travelled as part of National Karate Federation of Ireland to Malta for the 10th WUKF European Championships, which ran from the 25th to the 28th October 2018. It was a fantastic setting for such a prestigious event which hosted thousands of athletes from 49 European Federations.
At junior level Lucas McColgan and Zara Thompson were the youngest competitors with this squad, and they did not disappoint. Lucas did what he does best and displayed grit and determination to battle his way through several rounds and accomplish a bronze medal in the semi-finals. Zara executed her kata so beautifully that it was no surprise when she was awarded a silver medal for her display on the mat. Zara also competed in the Under 11 Irish kumite rotation team and claimed a bronze medal.
Two more great junior sportspersons Joshua Thompson and Rachel Carlin also fought splendidly for their country at this championship. Joshua had an incredible experience but was unfortunately put out by the eventual winner of his category. Rachael used great focus and progressed to the quarter finals in kumite and the finals in Kata which is a brilliant personal achievement.
At cadet level Lucy Casey, Emma Ellis and Hollie Gallagher excelled during the team events, and have learnt valuable lessons for progression. These three girls are formidable together, each bringing a different skillset to their team, so it was no surprise when they lifted two bronze team medals for Ireland. At this level it is wonderful to see that our small club has produced the talent and skill required to compete comfortably with some of the best in Europe. It’s not surprising then that when these girls were in their individual categories, they competed comfortably not only scoring against some tough competitors but were victorious over them.
In the senior males James Burke had a cracking competition displaying fabulous skill and precision to reach the finals on the Sunday, and claiming three bronze medals in total, two for teams and the third in the coveted individual junior category. Stephen John Carlin is also no stranger to this level of competition and finals day would not be the same without him on the mats. As usual he did the club proud and brought home a silver in his individual junior weight category and three bronze team medals. Our steadfast coach Ethan O’Donnell again honoured us in senior level by achieving two bronze team medals.
No pressure at all then, when it came to the senior ladies, Laura Browne, Rebecca Burke and Elaine Dullaghan as they competed in the Irish Sanbon team securing the club another European bronze. These experienced females are always competition ready which was reflected in their own individual events. Laura Browne had an outstanding contest earning a place in the semi-finals of the 60-65kg category securing a bronze for herself. Rebecca Burke specialises in Kata, an event she is highly respected in, so much so that N.K.F.I chose her as the only senior female to do kata in this junior category, and took great pleasure watching her progress through the rounds. Elaine Dullaghan had both the responsibility of being team coach and competitor which is quite challenging at any competition never mind one of such quality. When it came to her own event, she fought terrifically winning her fight against a very strong Italian in the quarter finals but narrowly missed out on a medal opportunity in the next round.
Anyone who is part of a club will know the commitment and drive required to secure development, so a few words of thanks must be extended to several valuable members of this team. It is not easy carrying the mantle for everyone and the fact that Ethan O’Donnell and Elaine Dullaghan have scaled back on their own personal ambitions to coach our younger competitors, and to share their knowledge has not gone unnoticed. We also acknowledge the tremendous work that Ciara Dullaghan and Sloan O’Donnell offer as coaches and although work commitments kept them from travelling with us at this time we look forward to their presence in the future. Not only are we a team we are a family and it is Mandy McNulty who is the glue that holds us altogether, she must be commended for all the hard work and self-sacrifice she endures on our behalf, and we are super proud to see her referee at such events
It can be a lonely place sometimes when you travel abroad for competitions of this scale which are predominently dominated by strong countries such as Romania, Italy and Slovakia. Amongst this array of colour, you will catch a glimmer of the green for Ireland and hear the chants of our loyal supporters. A heartfelt thanks much be extended to all the parents who travel alongside the squad at each event, your support is important to us. We look forward to the season ahead of us and are thrilled with the results achieved by our squad at this time.