2017 ITF Open European Championships
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On Wednesday 22nd February, students from Region
1 travelled out to Rome to compete in the 2017 ITF Open European Championships.
Members of the team included; Reece Nicholls, Jason Morrison, Ryan Meredith,
Katie Hetherington, Dolci Grove, Balaj Hussain, Leonard Liboro and support from
parents and Team Coach Matthew Brunger.
Arriving two days before the competition was scheduled to
commence, the team had a great opportunity to explore the local scenery and
venture into Rome to seek some last minute inspiration as the team of TKD
gladiators explored the coliseum.
Weigh-ins done, it was time for the competition to begin.
Kick starting the day for the UK Team was Katie and Dolci in the Junior Female
II Degree patterns Division. Looking Confident for start to finish and sharp in
their movements, the girls made light work of the competition earning their
place in a UK Vs UK final. After a close contest, Katie took the gold with
Dolci falling just short yet receiving a well-deserved silver medal.
Looking to continue the medal haul was Ryan Meredith and
Jason Morrison in the Junior Male II Degree patterns……and they did not
disappoint. In similar style both lads outshone their competition to earn their
spots in the final. The result almost too close to call, Jason was crowned the
victor with Ryan falling just short of the top spot.
The final team members to step onto the mat and perform
patterns were Balaj and Leonard in the I Degree Junior Tul Division. Competing
in a very big group we all knew this was going to be tough to win. Growing in
confidence each round, both Leonard and Balaj were drawn against one another in
the semi-finals. Knowing this was going to be a close match-up, the crowd
watched on in ore as they awaited the result. Unfortunately for Balaj, Leonard
took the win and progressed into the finals to take his second consecutive
patterns gold in an International outing.
Patterns finished, it was time to move onto sparring. Up
first was Ryan against a very explosive forward fighter. With a clear game plan
set to work his angle and counter with strong hands, Ryan put in an exceptional
performance to outclass his opponent. Competing in the same division was
Leonard Liboro. Stepping up a weight class this was a new challenge for Leonard
which he took in his stride. Matched against a very technical Italian opponent,
both fighters used their speed and footwork to try and gain the advantage. To close
to call, the result was deemed a draw. After a further minute of additional
time, the two fighters were again impossible to separate. ‘1st point
wins’ was next on the cards to determine the winner. With an explosive turning
kick to the body, the fight was stopped and Leonard was crowned the victor.
Once again onto an all UK final, Ryan and Leonard demonstrated a great display
of competitive sparring with Ryan taking the final win and top spot on the
Next up to compete was Katie in the Junior Female Light
weight sparring. After an ‘edge of your seat’ performance in her fist fight
against an equally matched Slovenian opponent, Katie secured the win and
progressed into the finals to face Italy. Relaxed into her performance, Katie
entered the ring with confidence and determination to win. Taking the fight to
her opponent, Katie’s lead leg side kick proved too much to handle and as the
final bell was struck it was clear that Katie dominated the fight to take her
second gold of the day.
Balaj was next to step into the ring. Looking to continue in
the success of his team member, Balaj made light work of his first opponent,
using his strength and fitness to outwork and overpower his opposition. First
fight done and Balaj had made his way to the semi-finals. Flying out of the
blocks, Balaj looked to control the centre of the ring and dominate the fight.
Against a well school opponent Balaj was up on the score card the whole fight
until a couple last second high kicks swayed the result of the fight, leaving
Balaj with a hard fought bronze medal.
The last competitor of the day to fight was Jason Morrison.
Making light work of his opponents on his journey to the finals Jason was faced
with an equally matched Ukrainian opponent. Trading kick for kick from the
start of the fight till the end, Jason had to unfortunately concede the win and
take second place in what was a very crowd pleasing final.
Well rested and ready for the second day of competition, the
team arrived early to begin warming up and mentally preparing for task ahead of
them. Day two saw the individual adult events take place as well as our junior
boy’s competing against team Italy and Ukraine.
Up first and representing UK ITF was Dolci Grove. Stepping
up from a junior to adult is never easy, and at the age of only 14 years, we
knew this would be a real challenge for such a young competitor. Against a very
power counter attack fighter in her first outing, Dolci dominated her opponent
with strong side-kicks and axe kicks to the head. This was a great start for
Dolci, giving her confidence as she progressed to the next bout. Against a very
internationally respected fighter from Holland, Dolci was clear on what she had
to do, use her size and power to force her opponent onto the back foot.
Executed to perfection, Dolci stuck to her game plan and secured the win.
Bruised, battered but now into the finals, Dolci was prepared for a real
battle. Facing an experienced fighter from Italy, who we knew would have the
strength advantage, Dolci had to keep her guard tight and work of the lead leg
side kick. Round one done and up on points, Dolci began to grow in confidence
and by the end of the second round was up on all umpire score cards and without
doubt the new Open European Champion. Facing world class opposition at only 14
years of ages, we are sure that Dolci is destined for a great future on the
Up next was Reece Nicholls competing in the adult male
middle weight category. After 2 long days of coaching Reece was ready to step
into the ring and spar. After making light work of his first two opponents
using his trademark side kick and relentless barrage of punches, Reece had made
his way to the finals. As soon as the fight began we all knew was going to be a
war of technique vs power. Leading the first round, Reece began to work out his
opponent, using the lead leg to stop the forward fighter and counter with hands
when pushed onto the back foot. After a
close final round the win unfortunately didn’t go the way of Reece who had to
take 2nd place on this occasion.
To end the championships the centre ring ran a junior team league
event…UK VS UKRAINE VS ITALY. From watching the competitors the day prior we
were all excited to watch as the juniors battled it out for the title of ‘team
champions’. A member down we knew this was going to be an uphill battle for our
boys. Facing Italy in the first round, the boys narrowly lost 3-2 against what
was a very strong and experienced team. Next we were called to vs Ukraine.
Again a member down we needed to make every fight count. Giving 100% in every
bout the boys were disappointed to lose 4-1 but positive in the performance. We
know this has been a great experience for the team and will leave them even
more fired up for the next big event.
Written by: Trenic TKD - 2nd March 2017
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