2017 Blog Roundup ~ 3 December 2017

 

 

2018 Senior European Kata Squad 

 

 

2018 England Kata A Squad

 

 

National Senior Kata Squad Coaches with me

Selected for the 2018 Senior European Championships !!!

 

Selected to represent my country for the Senior European Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia!

Novi Sad… brings back memories…. This is where I made my first European Kata Final. I was 15 years old, already having won a Team Kata Bronze medal in Turkey the year before. This time I was in the final competing for gold in the Individual Cadet category and won Silver at the time. Amazing achievement and experience. Since then I have gone on to represent my country many times picking up Six European and World medals on my journey.

 

2016 was a pretty rough year for me...

I lost out in the 2nd round of the Junior European Championships, my last outing as an U21 athlete.

 

I pulled out of the Senior Europeans after being selected so I didn’t compete.

 

At the English National Championships, following a change of referees for the semi-finals (I'm sure they had their reasons)... I lost that round.

 

For the British National Championships I didn’t enter for the second year in row even though I was U21 and Senior Champion the year previously.

 

However, the big decision was to pull out of the England National selection process mid way for the 2016 Senior World Championships. I knew this was a big decision and that if I didn’t compete it would have many knock-on effects, especially toward my ranking points. However, for me, it was the right decision and I’m sure most people know why, but can’t dwell ‘ey.

 

Being ill, on the verge of completely quitting competition Karate and months out of training, I made a last minute decision to enter the British International Championships. I knew in myself if I didn’t compete then I wouldn’t be doing Karate again. I managed to still make the final and only lose 3-2, confirming to me I still had huge potential.

 

Everyone reaches a crossroad somewhere in their life, mine was here. I needed to make a decision on my career... I wasn’t English champion, British National or even International champion and to top it all I hadn’t represented England at senior level at the European or Worlds. 2016 was a ghost year

 

So on to 2017...

Over Christmas and New Year and into 2017, I decided to go back to basics and re-evaluate all my Katas. It was time to rebuild piece by piece, figure out what style, version, school suited me and how I was going to make my Katas the best I could again. I went to the Paris K1, not with the expectation of medaling, but just being there, getting used to competing again, being confident on the tatami, and gain as much knowledge as possible from watching and studying the best athletes compete. I lost first round (no surprise), but gained invaluable knowledge from spending my whole time filming and analyzing Katas, leaving me with no memory on my phone! The thing is, there is no point going to these competitions with blinkers on, just there to do your bit and go. These are huge opportunities for learning, we are constantly developing ourselves, and what better opportunity to learn than at competitions like these, and boy did I take up that opportunity.

 

So now I began implementing the change in my Katas and Ryu. As athletes we should be lifting others as we progress, as the newly appointed U21 National coach for the England squad, I had the perfect opportunity to do just this.

 

In February it was my first outing as National Coach. I took a different approach toward their pre training, from what I had experienced for my last few years, and tried to provide everything they needed from the unique perspective of the athletes point of view. It wasn’t a case of ‘slowly, slowly’, it was a case of ‘LETS SMASH IT’. At the Europeans my squad achieved two 5th places, one in Cadet Female and one in 18-20 Female, and a European Bronze medal for Lauren Fretwell in the Junior Female. England Kata was back on track.

 

After the Europeans, it was time to focus on myself again for the final selection for the Senior Europeans. I wasn’t the English champion, I wasn’t the British champion  (for reasons you all now know why), however I had an incredible track record at European and World level behind me, and a brand new, re evaluated, refurbished, and revitalized set of great Kata in front of me. I felt I was again the best I could be at that time and felt my Katas were the best again, and was back on track. After a tough day, I was selected to represent at the Senior European Championships.

 

Next major event for me was the English National Championships in Leicester. Brand new venue, brand new mats, brand new me. Oddly enough, my draw was against three people all from the same Association. I was pleased to win my first round 5-0 putting me into the semi-finals. And as the Gods would have it, a repeat of the 2016 semi-final, same belt, same competitor, but different result, this time me winning 5-0 and putting me into the final of the English Championships. Regaining my national title was one of my targets for 2017. Being national coach and recently selected above everyone else in England for the Senior Female Individual spot meant that I had a lot to prove, it was a lot of pressure to deal with for anyone in this position. This is where you have to let the mat do the talking. It meant a lot to me to have my coach there in my corner too for the first time in a while. I was pleased to win 5-0 meaning I had not dropped a flag throughout. I was also pleased with the feedback I received from experienced judges about the level of my Katas which gave me confidence that the road I was going down with my Kata, although it may be rocky at times, was proving to be the right path to be on.

I went to the Europeans, still on the path of changing my Katas and finding my way. I lost against Macedonia who placed 5th at previous Senior Europeans. It was a good learning curve as it showed what I next needed to focus on in my Kata, which I did and proved this was the right thing to do after my result in the British National championships.

The British was back in Sheffield, A venue I feel very comfortable in after competing here for over 10 years. This was another one of my aims, to do ‘the double ‘again and be English and British champion in the same year. After winning my rounds 5-0 to make it to the final and go against the same competitor I faced at the English, I stepped onto the same area that I had been on the previous year at the British International where I decided to make my return, only this time, I came out the winner. Double done!

Back on the international circuit, I headed to Spain to compete in the Series A. Obviously, not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford to participate at every K1 and Series A, where you do get ranking points for simply attending, so I have to be selective about which ones I can attend. Therefore, whilst supporting the national set up and competing at home Nationals and England training I am only able to compete at a few Series A and K1’s. Unlike others with funding attending the K1’s and Series A’s, I can’t receive the ranking points you get for just attending and so have to try and maximize my performance. Through hard work and consistency I managed to place 9th. I lost to European Champion and K1 overall champion Sandra Sanchez, followed by and previous world Bronze medalist and Pan American champion Sakura Kokumai in repechage. The only other two Karate 1’s I could afford to compete at (I couldn’t compete in Turkey as I was teaching with Luca Valdesi and record breaking European Kata coach Jon Mottram…what an awesome seminar that was) were the German K1 and Austrian Series A. Losing both to European and World medalists again, I sat back and watched the competition and continued to gain more knowledge for my own Katas and for the National squad.

 

My last outing as National coach this year was the U21 World Championships in Tenerife. A lot of close 3-2 losses, rather than white-washes, and some great performances from England with a notable performance in the Female Cadet category; England gained a 5th place. After being a World Bronze medalist myself I know hard it is to achieve something like this! I took my referee and coaching exam in England in January and got 96% confirming my knowledge of the rules and followed this up with passing my WKF Kata coaching exam at these World Championships.


Onwards and Upwards

I’m now looking forward to hosting a seminar with European and World Champions from Spain next weekend and Senior squad National coach Jonathan Mottram.

 

So there you have it, my ghost year, my development year, now onto my comeback year. It’s been a long journey, but it has only just begun. I’m constantly learning, and thankful I have the opportunity to pass on my experiences, both good and bad, and knowledge to the U21 squad. I also recently celebrated my AS karate Academy’s first year anniversary, small and humble beginnings.

 

So from starting the year at the bottom, to finishing at the top – England Senior Female Kata competitor both Team and Individual!
I’m pleased with my results this year and look forward to 2018.

 

Two words…… I’m back.