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44th European Championships Sofia Bulgaria 14-19 February 2017
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Well the story of the day is 'so near and yet so far'. The outstanding performance of the day goes to the court jester of this team, who turned out to be the magician: Callum Holmes. This young man fought with heart and focus and an enormous work rate, right into the semi finals. He really looked like a world champion. Against an excellent Egyptian, he fought brilliantly, 1-1 after the first 2 minute period was nearly over, then his opponent 'stole' a point with a few seconds to go to take him into the final. The third time this has happened to a England Team member this tournament and so frustrating. Callum then fought with the same intensity right to the repercharge final, only to lose the bronze medal he so richly deserved to his French opponent. So close, though still top 5 in the world. Most of all, he did himself the the whole England team proud. Well done!
It seems the wider squad and fantastic supporters are all complaining of sore throats or of being hoarse. They have been shouting until they can shout no more. The support has been magnificent.
Two first round exits of kata competitors did not tell the full story. Natalie Payne lost by that most painful of margins 3-2 to her Hungarian opponent and Kiran Nunkoo 4-1 against Iran, though the result did not show how well he did. England is something of a newcomer to kata participation on this scale at this level. With Jonathan Mottram's input as Kata Coach, there is little doubt that we will continue to improve.
Little Joe Kellaway did his country proud, fighting his way into the last 8, showing heart and passion. He beat both Turkish and Ukrainian skilful competitors, but lost marginally to an Iranian. Joe really looked like he was going to win a medal, but the Iranian lost to the eventual winner from Mexico, denying him a place in the repercharge. Joe is really a great prospect for the future.
Hannah West also looked very good today. She is only 14, yet showed great maturity, using her height and long kicks. She battled her way into the last 8, then fought a French competitor who closed the distance and denied Hannah the possibility of using her reach advantage. The French competitor then lost unluckily to a Bosnian, denying Hannah the repercharge.
Rebecca Croly beat her first round Malaysian opponent comfortably, then lost by 1 point to an excellent Turkish girl. It was as if she created opportunities and then didn't quite take them.This event has enabled a lot of excellent English competitors to gain such useful experience at this level.
Lauren Tutty went out in the first round to a Hungarian. It was a close fight that was decided by a single point near the end. It was as if her distance was just a little short. Similarly, Pippa Morris went out to an Italian opponent in the first round, fighting well but just not quite finishing techniques enough to score. Neither were afforded a chance in the repercharge.
Josh Farrand won his first, then lost his second fight 1-0, appearing to hold back. He didn't really get going in that bout. It goes to show how close the competition is at this level and how no English fighter or kata exponent looked out of place or was ever beaten convincingly.
All the coaches and supporters are very tired. The majority did not stay to see the finals and most of these were sleeping on the coach on the way back to the hotel. It has been a long, hard week, but we are confident about England's future in Karate at world level!
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