Ten Karate Ireland ONAKAI athletes competed at the Karate World Championship in Madrid this week, with a target of gathering points on the qualifying table for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, where Karate will feature for the first time on senior level. Competition takes place from the 6 – 11 November.
The event started with the eliminations rounds across all the categories on the 6th November. First up for Ireland was Una Flynn competing in the Female kata. Flynn went out 0:5 to Peru. Nevertheless, Flynn felt positive about her first appearance at the World stage.
“It’s such an amazing feeling walking into the arena knowing that you are going to represent your country at the highest level. I felt very good about today. I knew I had put in all the hard work to get here and that’s the toughest part, getting selected. I tried to enjoy and take in as much of it as I could before the competition started.
“The main thing for me was that I got out there and gave it my best. There were parts I was very happy with but then there were bits that just weren’t up to standard. I do have to remember it was my first worlds and athletes here are outstanding so the slightest slip can cost you the match. But, I’m going to look back at my kata and pick points to focus on and work on as there’s always something you can improve on.”
Ruairí Dougal returned to the world stage after a break, making the national squad in individual and team kumite categories. Dougal competed in Male Kumite +84kg against Lenis Calderon Diego Fernando of Columbia, narrowly loosing at 0:2.
This was the first senior World Championship for Sean O’Connor, who reached the heights of 11th place at the Junior World Championship 2 years ago. O’Connor competed in Male Kumite -84kg against Durham Mitchell of Australia, losing 0:4.
On Wednesday the 7th November Craig Ryan was the first to compete for Ireland in Male Kumite -75kg. Ryan, having stepped up from Junior World Championship into the Senior level, competed against Silva Tomas of Portugal in the -75kg. Ryan went out a 2:10.
Caradh O’Donovan, the former international kickboxer and currently the highest ranking Irish athlete on the Tokyo qualification list at 96th place drew Jordan’s Aseel Alnaimi in the Female Kumite -61kg. O’Donnovan took the first score, securing the important ‘Senshu’, priority point used as decider in a case of a draw at the end of the match. Despite Jordan scoring a yuko, one point following a punch, O’Donnovan led with ‘Senshu’. However, all changed in the last 15 seconds.
Rory Kavanagh won his first round in Male Kumite -67kg 3:1 against Akondzo Gerlin Garcia, of Congo. Kavanagh faced Mareca Luca of Italy in the 2nd round but was beaten. Feeling disappointed he went on to say “it’s always an honour to fight for my country. I will reflect on my performance and continue to improve”.
Mairí Kerin , sitting at 99th place in the World rankings for female -55kg category appeared against Muchanga Marinela Rosa of Mozambique. Beaten Kerin reflects on her performance and long standing on the female squad: “It is such an honour to step out to represent Ireland, my family and friends.
Walking out into the stadium under the bright lights and noise, it can be overwhelming! At world level you really need to bring your A-game and I just couldn’t pull out my A-game when I needed to. My mind was elsewhere and my concentration gone. I lost to a smarter opponent.
My competition plan will need to be looked at after this event. However, my training plan is already set with my University of Birmingham scholarship team waiting for me to return to get stuck into improving my fitness and S&C and I cannot wait!”
Seona Gannon, the youngest on the team at only 19 is no novice having competed for Ireland as part of Junior squad. Indeed, her highest ranking to date is 11th at the A-series event earlier this year in Guadalaraja. Gannon performed strong throughout against Rybalchenko Tatiana, of Russia in Female Kumite -50kg, narrowly missing out in last seconds of the match to strong opponent who proceeded all the way to quarterfinals.
Male Kumite Team – Conor O’Sullivan, Rory Kavanagh, Craig Ryan, Ruairí Dougal, Sean O’Connor competed against the strong Belgian team in the Elimination Round on Thursday morning, losing 0:3. They will await results of further eliminations in male team kumite which takes place on Friday for an opportunity of reaching Repecharge.
Female Kumite Team – Caradh O’Donovan, Mairí Kerin, Shauna Mullaney – took on Italy in the Elimination Round on Thursday afternoon, losing 0:2. They will await progress of the Italian team on Friday, for a chance of reaching Repecharge.
The two-year qualifications for Tokyo commenced in July of this year and will run until 6th July 2020. While athletes have several opportunities to accumulate points, the highest number are available at the WKF World Senior Championships. Points are awarded for participation and match wins.
Irish athletes will have an opportunity to acquire ranking leading to selection for the elite few qualification places, in addition to which athletes will have an opportunity to qualify during the European Games (June 2019) or the WKF Qualification Tournament (Paris, May 2020).
Friday 9th November
09:00 Local Time (08:00 Irish) – Male Kumite Team Eliminations
13:00 Local Time (12:00 Irish) – Female Kumite Team Eliminations
15:00 – 17:00 Local Time (14:00 – 16:00 Irish) Male and Female Kumite Team Repechage
Saturday 10th November
TBC Bronze Matches and Finals in Individual Events
Sunday 11th November
TBC Bronze Matches and Finals in Team Events