European Gold and Bronze for the WKU

European Gold and Bronze for the WKU

The Karate Wales Governing Body sent a squad of forty competitors from seven clubs and Associations, plus eight coaches and a referee to the WUKF (World Union of Karate-Do Federations) European Championships for all ages, which took place in Verona, Italy from 11-16 June. 

The Welsh Karate Union provided two competitors, Gareth Rowe (Bridgend), and Lauren Gallagher (Pencoed), who was joined by her father Hugh as a coach. 

The squad was accompanied by dozens of family and supporters, this was probably the biggest Karate Squad ever to leave Wales for the continent and was packed with quality.

Thursday was the first day of competition and featured events for veteran competitors in four age bands; 36-40, 41-45, 46-50 and 51+

The team kumite (fighting) events were for all competitors of 36 and over and it was here that Karate Wales won their first gold medal of the Championships. Gareth was part of a formidable team and the Welsh supporters were rapturous as Wales beat the men's Veteran 'rotation' teams of reigning European Champions France, England and Ireland to send their support into an uproar taking a gold medal for Wales on the very first day to become European Champions!

The Veterans Individual kumite events were less successful for Wales as the quality of the competition became evident. Gareth was an exception as he went through the rounds to reach the last four. His semi final match against the Irish representative was extremely close, and came down to a single point, Gareth losing 6 – 5 leaving him with a bronze medal. 

Friday was the busiest day with all children's events taking place over nine areas of the impressive Palasport Arena. Lauren, aged 13, was competing in the 13-14 year category and was up against a high quality field with some of her opponents over a year older than her. Nevertheless she performed with distinction in the kata (pre-arranged forms) qualifying for the second round but narrowly missing out on a place in the final six.

In the kumite Lauren came up against an older and taller opponent. Despite giving a brave and determined performance, her opponent's size and experience gave her the edge and a victory as Lauren bowed out.

All three then became supporters themselves, cheering on the rest of squad as they continued to increase the medal haul throughout the weekend.

Karate Wales is a new and developing Governing Body, but with huge potential, and this event was a huge step forward. Four gold, four silver and eight bronze medals signifies a massive success, with only Federations from Romania, Italy, Poland, Russia and Belarus outperforming Karate Wales! Next up will be The WUKF World Championships for Children, Cadets and Juniors which takes place in Poland on the last weekend of October to which Karate Wales sending a squad.

Anyone wishing to learn karate with the Welsh Karate Union can contact Chief Instructor Sensei Paul Watson 6th Dan on 07786 933165 or visit our website www.welshkarateunion.org

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