AMA International Open, 25th-26th Feb 2012, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield, UK
The International Open has long been an important event in the calendar for many competitors, attracting entrants from across the globe. Ponds Forge as a venue has a great deal to recommend it: the excellent facilities for spectators, competitors and officials; an impressive track record in hosting international events in a wide variety of disciplines; superb support staff; central location and ease of accessibility. Add to this the established culture of international competition in the historic steel city of Sheffield and all the ingredients are in place for a great tournament.
This year’s event saw over 450 entrants from 17 countries and 58 different groups or federations (including some from outside the WUKF) over the two days. The WUKF statutes do not exclude other organisations from participating in their events, encouraging exchange of skills and friendship. The WUKF kumite disciplines of Shobu Ippon, Shobu Nihon and Shobu Sanbon as well as team and individual kata events were contested, kata on the Saturday and kumite on the Sunday.
Organiser Peter Allen, 7th dan and AMA Vice President commented; “This has always been an important tournament for us, but we are very excited to be part of the WUKF organisation. This year’s event promises to be amongst the best yet, with many countries and federations already enquiring about next year’s championships”.
Refereeing was overseen by WUKF Chief Referee Sever Cucu and AMA’s senior official Mark Drake. Mr Cucu held a referees’ seminar over the Friday and the Saturday and an impressive line-up of referees and judges was in attendance keeping the six matted areas busy.
The choice of Sheffield for this year’s International was apposite for another reason. Peter Allen and the AMA have been granted the rights to host next year’s Junior European Championships and have selected the English Institute of Sport, a few miles away as the venue.
It is also noteworthy that representatives of all the major karate federations in England were in attendance, including the three groups making up the newly-formed English Karate Council: hosts AMA, FEKO and Karate England, and all three had representatives ascend to the medal podium.
Harry Crook of SASKA proved a great all-rounder taking golds in three events: junior boys’ Wado kata, weapons kata and boys’ kumite.
Predictably, the Host AMA group topped the medal table with by far the largest contingent present, but notable were Melissa Holmes who took Gold in Shito and All Style kata, silver in Shobu Sanbon and bronze in the Shobu Ippon kumite. Other multiple, medallists from the AMA were Danielle Dunn with gold and two silvers, Sam Ernst with gold, silver and bronze, and Charlortte Bowie with a silver and two bronze medals all in kata.
Young Iyad Ali of ESKF took three kata medals including two first place trophies. FEKO, ESKF, Heian Ryu and Tai Kai all did well in the overall medal table, but of the visitors, the Ukraine team was impressive with four golds, five silvers and a bronze. Chris Galea’s group from Malta has been a long time supporter of this event and his clan did his country proud with the Galea family taking six of the small island’s nine medals.
The small group from Georgia tallied 5 medals including one from their national President Mzetchabuki Makharadze who was narrowly beaten in the Male Veterans’ kumite by FEKO’s Jason Smith. The male heavyweight kumite matched Karate England’s John Anderson against the big Georgian, Kaxa Egnatashvil, with the home fighter taking the title.
The female Vets’ kumite title was taken by Dudley’s Mandie Read, a former WUKF champion in kata too. Her gold was more impressive as she was complaining of back pain during the warm up. The male Shotokan kata title was taken by Marco Mobilio, current WUKF World Champion, with Unsu.
The weekend was one of cordiality and great friendship, as typifies WUKF events, and all are in eager anticipation of not only next year’s event, but also the upcoming WUKF European Championships in Irvine, and the Junior Europeans in Sheffield in 2013.
Sever Cucu expressed his pleasure with the standard of the refereeing and organizer Peter Allen praised the support team including the Ponds Forge team and the event coordinator, the ever reliable Jeff Grace.
Martyn Skipper 4th Dan AMA Public Relations Officer
www.amauk.co.uk - www.wukf-karate.org full report and photo's.