UKF claims karate gold at European Championships
Among the local gold medallists during the four-day WUKF tournament were Philip Walker and Erin McCole, who both gave impressive performances in kata; and Caolan Caulfield, Killian Doherty and Patrick Moynihan, who together won the cadet team kumite fighting rotation event in sensational style.
And there were a number of other podium finishes for the UKF squad, with a spectacular haul of three silver and two bronze, in addition to the three gold medals tally.
Just a few hours after being rushed to the local accident and emergency department following a freak hand injury, Beibhinn McCole from Quigley’s Point put in a superb performance in the individual kata (13 yrs). The teenager missed out on gold by the narrowest of margins to take a well-deserved silver medal, but unfortunately her injury ruled her out of fighting in her kumite section.
In winning gold in the senior individual kata, her eldest sister Erin pulled out the performance of her career after many years of just missing out on the top spot to world class Hungarian opposition.
Having already won silver in his individual kumite (16-17 years) section and bronze in kata (16-17 years), Caolan Caulfield (Quigley’s Point) captained the UKF cadet rotation team to a resounding victory alongside teammates Killian Doherty (16) from Buncrana and Patrick Moynihan (15) from Derry.
The UKF’s first gold medal performance of the tournament was delivered in fantastic style by 14 year-old Philip Walker from Fahan in his individual kata section (14-15yrs). However, the impressive young fighter’s high hopes of a medal in his kumite event were dashed by the onset of illness the following day.
Jack Walker, his brother, was the youngest medallist for the UKF, winning bronze in a large field in the 8yrs and under section (all belts). It was a proud moment for the entire squad and particularly for his dad, Gareth, who was forced to sit out the competition due to injury.
There were also impressive performances from the rest of the travelling UKF squad which included Harry McDaid (11), Joe McDaid (44), Aine McCole (17), Lara Walker (11), Aoife Cullen (10), Daniel Moynihan (8) Sophie Cullen (8), and Ian Cullen (45).
Head coach Martin McCole, who took silver in the individual kumite 46-50 years under 75kg category – after having to retire due to a knee injury – said the event was a resounding success for the UKF.
“There were plenty of ups and downs, but we will all share some great memories of the 2022 WUKF European Karate Championships in Italy. All of the UKF coaches were so impressed and extremely proud of the standard the students produced on the mat in front of such large crowds in the Palazzo Wanny in Florence,” he said.
“I’d like to say a special word of thanks to all the parents who had our backs throughout this journey to the Europeans. With this outstanding support team behind us, the atmosphere was always positive, and it pushed the students to perform to their best.
“Massive congratulations too to all the other Irish athletes who took part, it was great to see the Irish flag flying high,” he added.
UKF President Sensei, Columba McLaughlin, 6th Dan, and Sensei Denis Donaghy, 4th Dan, travelled with the squad to officiate at the event as WUKF tournament referees.
Sensei Columba McLaughlin said: “The UKF squad did Ireland proud with such fantastic performances against the best Europe has to offer in what was a tremendously successful WUKF event in Florence. Our attention now turns to the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown for the Karate Ireland Open National Championships this weekend and I’m sure the UKF will deliver even more memorable performances.”