Swedish Open Report: March 2012

Sophie Santillo arrived late Friday evening in Copenhagen where I crossed the famous Oresund bridge which connects Denmark to Sweden. She then travelled to her Uncle's flat in Sweden to stay the night before the competition next day where she would be competing in the Weight and Age category- Junior Female Kumite 16-16 -53kg.

Next morning Sophie was up and out early from my uncle's flat where they boarded a train for half an hour to Malmo where the competition was being held. She attended the competition with her uncle and his girlfriend Tess, there at the venue they met up with quite a few others from England team who attended the competition. Unfortunately due to very little entrants in her own weight category -53kg the competition organisers scrapped the draw sheet for it and moved Sophie into the weight category above (-59kg), she was a little unsettled by this move as this category had a lot of heavier and taller opponents competing within it, and she herself is not particularly tall even when competing in her own weight category! Although category changes aside, Sophie felt fine and good about fighting.

Her first round was against a fighter from the Danish National Team (Denmark), she was the second tallest competitor in the category.

The fight started and Sophie was holding her ground well early in the fight, which is something that she has been working on in training as she is naturally comfortable using the area of the mat and counter-attacking however, recently this has been of disadvantage to Sophie when it comes to flags and the referees go for the most aggressive fighter; therefore we tried this new tactic. Sophie looked quite comfortable and gained her range during the fight, although the first point went to her Danish opponent after a clash early-on in the fight.

During the fightSophie was finding it hard to catch the flag-judges eyes, she felt that she was hitting with quite a few techniques but because of the new rule system which means that you have to gain 2 flags to score a point, this proved very difficult for her to actually get the point she needed to level with her opponent. However, mid-way in the fight she managed to throw a gyakazuki to draw her opponents technique out and provoke a clash between the two of them, of which Sophie was then able to capitalise on with a sharp, explosive Kazami punch. This meant that she and her opponent were again on even-terms and she was back in the fight, Sophie continued to hold her ground well and did dictate most of the fight holding my opponent in different corners around the mat, however Sophie didn't pull as much as usual and this meant that often she and her Danish Opponent threw techniques at the same time rather than Sophie pulling her Opponent's technique out first and then following up with another technique to gain a clear-cut point, therefore none of the two fighters scored.

At the end of the fight, Sophie's aggressive ground-holding tactics paid off by forcing her opponent to make an error and throw a back-leg hook kick (Ura-mawashegeri) which was way out of range, She blocked clearly and capitalised with a clinical text-book and sharp Gyakazuki punch to the body of her Danish opponent which she finished with quite an emphatic finish to emphasise the finish of the technique to the flag-judges and show the her own confidence in the scoring potential of the technique. However, somehow the judges decided not to score the point and unfortunately the fight ended 1-1 and the final decision went to flags of which I lost 2-1. This was a bit of a surprising result for Sophie and other spectators as she had been the dictator for a majority of the fight. Although not nice, these things do happen in the World of Sport Karate and you have to suffer the bitter loses on the path to victory. For Sophie this was unfortunate, however she knows that she must tackle each competition as one-fight at a time, what happened in your last fight will never define what will happen in your next fight.

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