European Championships 2008, Neptune Stadium, Cork City
The European Tae Kwon Do International Championships were held on the 26th and 27th April in the Neptune Stadium Cork. This is the first time this prestigious tournament was held in Ireland and it was an outstanding success. Fourteen different countries sent competitors to the event from places as diverse as Georgia and Switzerland, Northern Cyprus and Norway. All the visiting teams enjoyed the competition and loved Cork city and it s friendly atmosphere.
The Korean martial art, which is popular all over the world and is now also an Olympic event, drew a huge entry of just less than one thousand competitors to the stadium over the two days.
Entrants were able to take part in three different aspects of the art, patterns, sparring and destruction. Patterns are a set series of defensive and attacking moves specific to each grade (belt colour). Sparring as the name suggests is the contact side of Tae Kwon Do, with two fighters facing each other in the ring. Both combatants wear hand, foot and head protection and are under the supervision of a referee and four corner judges. The third section, destruction is confined to senior competitors only as it involves board breaking with the bare hand or foot.
Dan O’Mahony, Chief Instructor of Warrior Tae Kwon Do in West Cork, had 55 students from his various clubs taking part. Saturday the 26th was Black Belt seniors and cadets (15years and over) only competition. With 7 West Cork Warrior Black Belts in action on the day Mr. O’Mahony was delighted with their performance as they came away with 2 silver medals and 2 bronze.
Then with an early start at Neptune on Sunday and a vast number of competitors taking part it was the turn of all the junior Black Belts competitors and all colour belts junior and senior. With ten rings on the go it was a daunting spectacle to watch, particularly for those who had never competed at International level before. This did not faze the West Cork students who put on a great display of martial arts coming away with 5 gold, 7 silver and 17 bronze in total.
Current World bronze medallist Amy Shorten of Ballineen and Clonakilty clubs pulled off the double winning both patterns and sparring with club-mate and World Champion Aishling O’Driscoll taking double bronze and Eugene Birlea and Lisa Hayes both with silver in patterns and bronze in sparring.
Dunmanway club had a double as well with Black tag Triona Murphy taking gold in patterns and silver in sparring at junior level. This was an outstanding result for Triona at her first International. Also Erik Hilmer who trains in Baltimore and Drinagh clubs took bronze in both disciplines. The other medal winners were Dunmanway Club, Leah Murray, Michaela Mc Carthy, Robin Screech, Brendan Walsh. Drinagh Club, Keren O’Sullivan. Ballydehob Club, Jacob Harris. Ballydehob and Skibbereen, Mairead O’Donovan. Clonakilty Margaret O’Brien, Hanna Paulino, Aoife Sheehan, Dwayne Crowley, Anne Donnelly-O’Mahony and Kevin O’Connor. Ballineen, Aoife Ni Bhroin.
Barry O’Mahony 3rd Dan instructor also had a very successful weekend with his student Lorinda Crowley taking bronze in sparring and bringing home the first ever European Tae Kwon Do medal to her Innishannon club.
With 8 rings running simultaneously on the Saturday and 10 on the Sunday the whole competition was over by 3.30pm that day. Great thanks are due to all the officials who worked tirelessly over the 2 days in particular the British contingent who s experience at large events was invaluable. The early finish delighted spectators, competitors and their families.
With such a huge international event on their doorstep it was a great opportunity for the local martial artists to take on the best in Europe without the usual travel and time constraints. The results prove that the Warriors are no push over and earned themselves great respect from all the travelling teams. With World and European Champions in their numbers the future of Warrior Tae Kwon Do looks very bright.