Junior / Cadet WKF World Karate Championships Malaysia 2011

This year's WKF World junior and cadet championships were held in Melaka, Malaysia, and representing England and the club in -53kg was our very own Sophie Santillo.

This was going to be a huge task for Sophie as she has only just been selected for England, and has only ever done one other international comp outside the UK which was last month in Luxembourg, so Sophie’s knowledge of European fighters is only what she can reconcile from last month. Adjusting to being part of the England squad, New England coach, different climate of consistent 31 degrees and the pressure of performing was going to be a massive task, which Sophie did not disappoint with.

Sophie had been pre training the week in SD Martial Arts before flying out and has trained and competed every week leading up to the Worlds and was feeling really tired and physically strained. After a couple of days rest by the National Coach the team started to get there confidence and mental state seemed a lot fresher.

I reached Malaysia on Wednesday evening after a 13 hour flight and a long car trip l was exhausted but excited to see my Sophie. Thursday morning I got to see Sophie but only for a very short time as strict rules insisted parents and coaches were not allowed to mix with squad in fear of distraction which I understood.

Day 1

The team started Thursday morning and up first was the kata squad. As I cannot remember how each performed precisely I do remember the kata squad looked fantastic and England’s kata squad brought back there first bronze medal which boosted the England moral. The junior under 21s kumite were up next and they did not disappoint but the standard at the worlds was exceptional and all our guys went out in the early rounds. For me the most annoying thing was to see our guys matched the best but the points just did not come, and also we need to step our game up if we were to be the best.

Day 2

Friday morning saw a very nervous me and several squad members after watching Thursday’s performances. Sophie was competing at 2.30pm and was mid way through the pool. Sophie was in pool one off 33 competitors and had a tough first round.

Round 1 England v Venezuela

Sophie’s first opponent was against a very tough and fast opponent. Venezuela opened the first two points with lightning gyak’s giving Sophie a hard task to play catch up. With our opponent gaining in confidence Sophie had to attack and scored a with trademark hook kick make the score 3-2 in our favour. With our opponent now becoming more aggressive Sophie had to go forward as well but was pushed back. This worked in our favour as Sophie through another hook kick and scored again taking the lead to 6-2. Our lead was reduced by a front taking the points to 6-3, but Sophie attacked again and scored one point back, taking us the win 7-3 and through to the second round.

Round 2 England v Japan

Sophie next had the task of beating the current world kumite and kata champion and after seeing Japan win every other category this was going to be a huge mountain to beat.

The opening minute both fighters were very hesitant and it is fair to say the Japanese have a very unorthodox way of fighting but so very very effective. After the opening minute our opponent took the lead with a fast gyak and then over the top taking the lead 2-0.

As much as Sophie tried she could not get range required and however hard she tried just could not score. Our opponent threw a lovely round to take a further lead of 5-0 and the win. This put us through to repo-charge.

Round 3 England v Thailand

Disappointed with the last round Sophie realised she had a chance to still be placed and was up against a very fast Thai opponent whom took the opening 2 gyak’s. Sophie not disheartened scored 2 front hands to the face levelling the score 2-2. Again our opponent attacked and Sophie picked her off with another hook kick taking the lead 5-2. Our opponent started to push forward but with a good lead Sophie decided to throw another hook kick which touched by did not score. Sophie started pushing hard and scored a fast front hand taking the score to 6-2. Sophie got caught sleeping and our opponent scored with a fast gyak taking a point back 6-3. Sophie held her off to the final seconds and the win and through to round 4.

Round 4 England v Turkey

Our next opponent was the current European Champion and this proved with our opponent taking the lead scoring 3-0 gyak’s. Sophie’s distance on the attacks was too far allowing our opponent to score every time. With nothing to loose Sophie through a fantastic hook kick and levelled the score 3-3. With 20 seconds to go both girls were hesitant but at the very very last second both girls went in with gyak, but it did not go our way and we lost 3-4. If we managed to go to overtime and win we would have faced USA which I believe was an easier opponent and possibly the bronze medal! However we managed joint 7th out of 33 competitors.

The day ended on a high with England’s Tom Hickman who became World Champion. Tom has trained with us in Belgium and is one of the nicest kids I’ve known and deserves every praise! Well done Tom and Paul Campbell!

Day 3 – Ready to depart

After saying my farewell’s to Sophie and the team I jumped into the taxi at 4am and boarded the plane at 9am.

My reflection on the few days in Malaysia is that the experience is something you would never forget. Great atmosphere, great team spirit and fighting for your country is the most rewarding and honourable experience and our Sophie did the club and country proud.

On reflection this is Sophie’s second competition ever abroad other than UK. Last month Sophie medalled at Luxembourg and beat national fighters and European medallists, and this month went to the worlds and came joint 7th out of 33 competitors, and levelled the points against this year’s European medallist.

This result in the bigger picture although just one round from medalling is a fantastic result, considering this is the first time she has competed for England. Both National Coach and myself are very proud of Sophie’s accomplishment and we will have to work harder to reach our goal!!

Both myself and Sophie would like to thank everyone for their support and help in raising funds to help us reach Sophie’s goals!! Also a huge huge thank you to MCE for all there financial help in sponsoring Sophie at the Worlds, words cannot express how lucky we are.

  • WKF
  • EKF
  • English Karate Federation
  • Thames Community Foundation
  • Design Gurus
  • MCE
  • J.Lefevre
  • YMCA
  • Sport Kingston
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