42nd EKF Junior & Cadet Championships & -21 Cup, Switzerland - 6-8th Feb 2015
After an intense and beneficial weekend pre training with my coach, Ticky Donovan OBE, it was time to head out to the Junior European Championships in the familiar city of Zurich. We flew out of Heathrow on the Tuesday morning and were met by a very cold, snowy and an expensive City, but still with wonderful hospitality.
After checking in and waiting to get into our rooms we had the first session of pre training, to dust off the cobwebs and get back into it after the travelling. The next day we had another session in the morning, again keeping it light and focusing on our technique followed by a later session. All building up to the Major event. For me that was Friday, the first day of competition.
I faced Caroline Delgaard from Denmark in my opening round who started off proceedings performing Paiku Kata. I chose to perform Annan and won the round 5 flags to 0.
The 2nd round saw me first up this time to face Anna Kreshenko from Ukraine. I opted to perform Suparinpai as my Ukrainian opponent was performing Chatanyara Kushanku. A good choice from me as I won the round 4 flags to 1.
Into the 3rd round quarter-finals, I now faced former triple Junior European Champion, Dorota Balciarova, from Slovakia. I knew I had a tough match and performed a high Kata, Chatanyara Kushanku. My opponent also knew she faced her toughest match and chose to perform Suparinpai, another highly difficult and long Kata. A split decision 3 flags to 2 went against me. Dorota went through the next round to make the final popping me into the repechage rounds. OK, not missing out on a medal now, no way.
The repechage semi-final pitted me against Sweden's Mia Karlsson. Once again recognising I was a serious contender, Mia chose to perform Chatanyara Kushanku. In response I chose to performed Paiku, not as high as Chatanyara so it had to be good, really good. An excellent performance saw me win 3 flags to 2 to make the repechage final and go for my chance for bronze.
Facing Gizem Shin from Turkey in the repechage final, I now had to compete first and performed an outstanding Nipaipo Kata, really felt good. My Turkish opponent responded by performing Suparinpai Kata. It was another close call but my Nipaipo out-flagged my opponent's Kata 3 flags to 2 giving me my 5th Junior European medal in as many Junior European Championships.
An amazing display, narrowly losing the quarter-final by one flag to a multi-European Champion and then to come back through repechage beating my opponent's top Katas with my repertoire. Felt exceptionally good. Except for my opening round, I faced either Chatanyara Kushanku or Suparinpai in all of my following four rounds, and to claim bronze against that is amazing.
So I have competed in 5 Junior European Championships and with this bronze now have 5 European medals medaling at every level, Cadet, Junior and U21 years. With my World Bronze, that's 6 championship medals!
The medal, even though a bronze, felt special, it was all about the journey, a tough year, and to come through still on the European podium was special. I'd like to thank Ticky Donovan OBE for being my coach and in my corner. As they say, memories are made from days like these.