Warriors take on the World
The martial arts students of West Cork have again been blazing a trail on the world stage, when last weekend a group of 6 Warrior Tae Kwon Do students travelled to Torres Novas, near Lisbon in Portugal for the ICKKF World All Styles Championships. The group returned with a tally of 5 gold medals, a silver and a bronze creating 3 new World Champions, with Anya Curran of Skibbereen winning 3 separate events.
The championships which are held every 2 years are open to all styles of martial arts, eg. Karate, kickboxing, Kung fu, Tae Kwon Do etc.
The Warrior team which consisted of 3 female and 3 male competitors travelled out from Dublin airport on Friday the 23rd of March and on landing in Lisbon were bussed straight to the Palacio dos Desportos Stadium in Torres Novas for weigh-ins and registration. They then travelled on to their accommodation at the local police training academy, where a lot of the competitors were billeted. It was no 5 star hotel but perfectly adequate for a team that was there on business.
Early Saturday morning all teams were transported again to the stadium and the competition began after a short opening ceremony and demonstration. This was the largest competition the Warrior students had ever attended with over 4000 competitors from countries as diverse as Canada, China, Azerbaijan , the Lebanon, Hawaii and all over Europe.
The team had a long wait for their first section to be called as the kata and self-defence sections were held first and the Warrior team had decided to concentrate on the sparring events. They were entered in the points and continuous sparring divisions and the ladies had also entered the 3 person team event.
First to compete was Skibbereen Tae Kwon Do student Anya Curran who cruised through the qualifying rounds to make the finals on Sunday. Anya used her legs to great advantage picking off scores before her opponents could reach her.
Next up was Erik Hilmer from Drinagh club who again started well but met the eventual winner in the early rounds. Erik took the fight to a draw at full time and just missed out in extra time by one point, this was the closest any fighter got to beating this individual so it was unlucky for Erik to have met him so early in the event.
17 year old Sarah Murphy from Ballineen club fought next in the points section and although not her favourite event, won through to Sunday’s finals with a great display of fast punches and accurate kicks.
Fellow 17 year old and Ballineen native Aishling O’ Driscoll was next on the sparring mats. Aishling, already a seasoned competitor with world titles under her belt at junior level, stepped up to the mark. Aishling dominated her early rounds and was unlucky to take a glancing turning kick to the nose in the final qualifier. The fight was stopped immediately as her nose began to bleed. She was given 1 minute to continue or forfeit the bout. Aishling was determined to continue and with her nose plugged, she fought on and won the round qualifying for Sunday’s finals. This was an extremely brave performance on her part.
It was Anya Curran’s turn again in her second event, the continuous sparring. Again Anya used her legs to great advantage and qualified for another set of finals.
Dwayne Crowley from Crossbarry, training in Clonakilty and Barry O’ Mahony, Warrior instructor both competed next in the same points section but were unlucky not to make it through to the finals.
Dwayne was called up again for his continuous section, where he was in his element powering through the rounds with little cause for worry. He qualified for Sunday with some great displays of technique and speed.
At 11.30pm all other sections stopped and were held over until the next day. Next morning the finals of all the events started plus those sections not finished the day before.
Again the Warriors had a long wait for their sections to be called and finally around 5pm the first fighter got on the mats.
It was Anya again that got the ball rolling in the points section, beating her opponent in the semi-final by a 3 point margin. It was then onto the final where she met a very tough Portuguese girl. It was a close run but Anya’s kicks earned her a higher points tally than the punching techniques of her opponent. Anya was declared World Champion to the delight of her coach and team members.
Aishling O’Driscoll entered the ring next in her continuous finals and powered through the semi- final against a Portuguese opponent. Then on to the final which was 2 by 2 minute rounds against a strong Belgian girl. Aishling took the first round with attacking flurries of punches and well directed kicks. At the break, with her nose well swollen from the day before and having to wear a gum shield, Aishling’s breathing was beginning to trouble her. She started the second round well but was visibly struggling to breathe and although it looked too close for those watching to call, the officials on the day deemed the Belgian girl the victor. Aishling had to settle for silver this time out which was a great result under the circumstances.
Sarah Murphy fought her way to the semi-final next and was very unfortunate to be beaten into bronze position by a Portuguese girl who went on to win the title. This was a great result for Sarah as it was her first International competition.
Dwayne Crowley who was defending his World title from 2 years ago fought next in his continuous finals where he met another Portuguese ju-jitsu fighter. Dwayne took the fight to extra time with by far the stronger and more impressive performance but the powers that be decided his opponent had won and Dwayne just missed out on the medals. The Portuguese went on to take gold, following a further controversial decision but it could just have easily been Dwayne’s day.
When Anya Curran stepped up again in her continuous finals, she met a Lebanese girl in the semi-final and beat her convincingly with superb mid-section and head kicks. In the other semi-final a kung fu competitor from Italy was awarded the fight when her opponent from Uzbekistan was disqualified for repeated heavy contact.
So it was Anya and the Italian in the final. With 2 by 2 minutes again in this bout it was all about pacing yourself and Anya did this to perfection. In the second round Anya put on the pressure and her opponent went down after one of Anya’s head kicks and could not continue through exhaustion. Anya was awarded the bout through technical knockout.
One of the last events of Sunday night was the team events and with just a female team entered all Irish eyes were on ring 1 for the event. The 3 girls Sarah, Aishling and Anya used their various styles to great advantage and went on to take gold for the Irish making it a super result of 5 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal for the team.
The lads were unfortunate this time out but the future looks bright as they were all well in the running. On this occasion though, it was girl power all the way with outstanding performances from Sarah, Aishling and of course Anya Curran.