2019 WKF JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS, SANTIAGO, CHILE


On Saturday the 19th October a group of seven athletes, five parents and one coach, representing Irish Karate, headed to the World Cadet, Junior & U/21 World Championships in Santiago, Chile. Travel was via Paris with a connecting 14 hr flight to Santiago.

On arrival, we were alerted to the protests and general rioting that was taking place in the centre of Santiago. The accommodation, The Pullman Hotel, was a 20-minute drive from the city centre and was considered relatively safe. For the remainder of Sunday and Monday the team remained in the hotel due to curfews and restrictions that were in place. Registration of athletes took place on the Tuesday morning. A number of other countries had withdrawn from the competition due to intimidation and rioting. The competition commenced on the Wednesday.

KATA

David Gannon Male Junior kata
Won 1st round and was right up there in the top 4. David lost in the 2nd round finishing in 5th place with only the first 4 going through to the 3rd round. David finished in 23rd position overall in the competition and in doing so created history for Irish Kata.

Eimear Porter U21 Female U21 Kata
Lost out in the 1st round and despite Eimear's best efforts she was not able to make it into the top 4 positions from a top-class group of 11 athletes.

KUMITE

Hieu Power Junior Male Kumite -61kg
Lost 1st round 3:2 against Azerbaijan. Hieu took the first score early on in the fight. This fight was in the balance right up to the last 30 seconds and due to some very slick defensive work and well-timed counter attacks, the AZE opponent finished 3:2 the winner. The Azerbaijan opponent won his way to the final resulting in Hieu qualifying for repechage In the 1st round of repechage Hieu won out a very comfortably 2 - 0 winner against a Bosnia opponent. In the 2nd round of repechage Heiu lost 1 - 0 against a Bulgarian opponent. A very creditable 9th placing for Hieu in his category

Emma Dolan Junior Female Kumite -53kg
In her 1st round fight Emma had her South African opponent on the back foot, and she was able to score at will, using her front punch both defensively and offensively. In the second round the scores were not as easy against a Bosnian opponent but none the less a comfortable 3:1 win for Emma. In the 3rd round Emma went behind by a score early on in the fight against a French opponent and despite her best efforts, she was not able to breach the French girl's defensive, losing out by one score. This French girl went on to win gold and in doing so, Emma qualified for repechage. In the first round of repechage, the Danish girl got two early waza-ari score and from there it was a mountain for Emma to climb. Despite her best efforts, scores were hard come by and the Danish girl ran out the winner and she too went on to take bronze in the category. A majestic performance by Emma at this level of karate, her first Worlds and making her debut as a junior. Emma finish 7th overall in her category so close to winning a female WKF medal.

Ayla O Sullivan Junior Female Kumite -59kg
Ayla fought a tactical fight controlling the area and the pace of the fight. Attacks by both fighters didn't send score Ayla's way and the Austrian girl won out by one single score.

Conor O Sullivan U21 Male Kumite -67kg
Conor fought a very slick opponent from Azerbaijan and from the off his opponent done all the attacking and pressure fighting and in doing so claimed the first and second score. During the middle part of the fight Conor pressed more onto his opponent and controlled part of the fight. This resulted in Conor taking a score, but the fight ended with a final score of 3:1 in favour of his opponent.

Ruaidhri Collins U21 Male Kumite -75kg
Some early attacking by Ruaidhri did not bring about that important first score. It was midway through the fight when his opponent scored an ippon and in the next encounter Ruaidhri suffered an injury to his hip. Although his opponent was warned, it had a departmental effect on Ruaidhri's ability to see out the fight at full pace. The Costa Rica opponent won out with that single score 3 - 0.

On the Tuesday 25th October we received a visit from Mr Paul Gleeson, Irish Ambassador to Chile, welcoming us to the city. He assured us that the current unrest was not the norm in Santiago. Following this visit, the Ambassador invited the Irish athletes and entourage to his residence for dinner on the Sunday evening. This was a fitting end to the Karate World Championships.

It was very encouraging to see the ability and athleticism of all Irish athletes. Each one, more than accounted for themselves and proved that they were worthy of their place at this level of karate.

I would like to compliment all athletes and acknowledge the way they represented Irish Karate throughout the competition. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the parents who were of great assistance over the week.

Yours in Sport
John Connolly

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