Golden Girl at Swiss International Open - 25th February 2012
Karate girl Aimee Sell flew out to Zurich on Friday 24th February 2012 to compete in the Swiss International Open Karate Championships being held over the following weekend. This was the 4th instalment of these championships which has seen it grow from less than 500 at its start to being over subscribed at 1000 a month before the cut-off date. A well turned out tournament, well run and organised tournament as you'd expect and with many national teams competing, a tough competition too.
Aimee competed in two events, the Female Junior Kata and Female Senior Kata events on Saturday, the first day of competition. Aimee had won the Cadet (14-15 year old) category for the last two years and this was Aimee's first time in the Junior category (16-17 years) at this competition. None-the-less Aimee was confident and looking forward to returning to familiar surroundings.
The day started early for Aimee as the Kata events were due to commence at 8:30 in the morning. Aimee was there really early to warm up having already registered the day before. Before the start of the competition, the organisers marched all competitors on for the opening ceremony, nothing too grandeur, just a line out for athletes and referees a welcome speech and march out again. Nice touch
Female Junior Kata
Having nearly 30 in each category, Aimee was supposed to have five full rounds in both Junior and Senior events as the draws had been completed a few days earlier (did I mention efficiency? ), however, in the Junior event Aimee's first two opponents were no-shows meaning Aimee was straight though to the quarter-finals in her pool by default.
In the 3rd round, Aimee performed Annan Kata against the very good Valerie Will from Switzerland, the Swiss No.1,. Aimee's performance was strong and sharp and she won the round 5 flags to 0.
The pool final saw Aimee against Diana Michely from Luxemburg, another very good competitor. Aimee chose to perform Nipaipo Kata and another excellent display saw her win 5-0 once again to make the main final.
Aimee faced pool 2 winner, Luxemburg's Oceane Da-Costa, Luxemburg's No.1 Junior (who was looking very strong and sharp herself) in the Female Junior Kata final. Aimee actually first met Oceane when she was 11 years old competing against each other in the Venice Cup so both athletes are very experienced and have improved immensely over the years and both are still going strong. Anyway, Aimee performed a good Chatanyara Kushanku in the final but Oceane's Gojushiho Kata was good too, however, Aimee won Gold with a narrow 3 flags to 2 victory.
Female Senior Kata
Following on from the Junior event, Aimee then moved on to the Senior Kata event and with no byes this time round performed Seienchin in the 1st round of her pool 1 category. Aimee faced Chantel Steiner from Switzerland who performed Kanku-Dai but Aimee's Seienchin won the round 4 flags to 1.
The 2nd round saw Aimee face The Danish Senior No.1, Anne-Sophie Sorensen. Aimee performed Bassai-Dai with Anne-Sophie performing Seienchin but this time the decision went against her 1-4. Her opponent's Kata was very strong and precise, Aimee said she couldn't have performed her Kata any better as it felt really good, so no complaints, her opponent's Kata was just better.
Aimee's opponent went on to make the final and deservedly win the category outright leaving Aimee in the repechage rounds. Aimee performed Nipaipo Kata in the 1st repechage round against Swiss Cathy Gaspoz and won convincingly with a 5-0 win.
The next round saw Aimee perform Annan Kata facing Luxemburg's Oceane Da-Costa once again. Aimee secured a 5-0 win this time to see her into the repechage final,
As the event was split across two pools, each repechage round was straight after the other meaning Aimee had to perform three straight Kata one after the other and in the repechage final Aimee chose to perform Chatanyara Kushanku, one of the longest and hardest Shitoryu Katas. It proved to be a good choice as another convincing display saw her win 5-0 over Ukrainian Kristina Vienik's Kata performance of Unsu. Victory secured Aimee a senior Bronze medal, which at only 16 years of age is a very good result.
Aimee stayed for the rest of the day to watch and support her England Team mate Sophie Santillo who was competing in the Kumite event later on during the day. Aimee was down on the mats with her acting as her sparring partner in preparation for her event.
The next day, Aimee was back supporting club teammate little 10 year old Toni Shering competing in the U12yrs Kata event. Toni came to watch Aimee compete on day 1 lending her support whilst Aimee helped Toni warm up and coached her on day 2. Great to see them work as a team.
Although there is great rivalry between competitors in Karate, there is also great sportsmanship and friendship too. Aimee had one of the Danish squad letting her know what round was coming up next, what belt she was, etc. which shows great camaraderie between athletes. Aimee has made many friends, especially with athletes from Luxemburg and Denmark and enjoyed seeing them all again.