U.T.A. at ITF European Championships 2015

Eight members of HSTS Squad travelled to Moldova on 20th July to take part in the European Championships.

Despite the early start on a Monday morning, the excitement levels were high as the competitors, coaches Master Horan VII Dan and Mr Owen V Dan, and family members converged on Heathrow airport to catch the flight.  Ten hours and a short stop in Vienna later, and we got our first look at the small Eastern European country.  We were welcomed by competition organisers at the airport, and crammed ourselves and bulging kit bags into taxis for the trip into the capital Chisinau, where we would stay for the rest of the week.

We found our hotel well-appointed and spacious (some rooms at least!), and ventured towards the centre of the city for a light dinner ahead of weigh-in.  After enjoying protein-rich steak dinners – but no chips for the weight conscious – we retired to bed after a long day.

The Team UK organisers had arranged to conduct official weigh-in for team members on the Tuesday.  All competitors weighed in successfully (after two attempts for Mr Southern!), meaning relief and an opportunity to carb load ahead of what could be a gruelling competition schedule.

Coaches from HSTS squad and Team UK kept the competitors sharp with light training sessions over the next two days.  This was an opportunity to practise sparring combinations, and identify any last-minute tweaks to patterns.  Competitors were also encouraged to rest and relax between training, to avoid burning out especially in daytime temperatures of 33+ Celsius.

The first day of competition, on the Friday, was soon upon us.  Due to fortunate scheduling, exactly half the UTA squad members would compete that day.  The junior and senior competitions proceeded smoothly, with Team UK chalking up several early victories to set the tone for what would be a highly successful competition.  HSTS squad members contributed fully to that success, with two European champions in the first day.  This despite some of the age categories being merged together, making it challenging for U16 competitors against older opponents.

The Saturday saw the adult competitions commence.  The four squad members who had only been able to cheer on their compatriots would now get the opportunity to enter the arena.  Once again, squad members put in a strong showing, with two more students emerging as champion in their division.  Emotions ran high as the squad celebrated victory and marginal defeat with equal enthusiasm.

On Sunday the competition closed with the power breaking, special technique and team events.  For some squad members this would be an opportunity to rest weary muscles and nurse minor injuries, however a number of competitors joined their fellow Team UK members in the team events, and contributed to yet more success for the group including yet another individual gold medal.

As the competition drew to a close and medals were awarded, it was clear that the members of the squad were participating in the true spirit of Taekwon-Do – despite having put everything into beating their opponents on the competition floor, we also sought our fellow competitors from around Europe to share experiences and build friendships.  Competitors exchanged training gear, photographs and gifts in yet another demonstration that Taekwon-Do has the power to bring people together.

All members of HSTS squad justified their selection for Team UK with strong performances and individual medals.  We must thank the family members who spent large sums of money to join and support the group, and of course an enormous thank you to Master Horan and Mr  Owen, who looked after all aspects of the competitors’ well-being – coaching at the competition ring, training and correction during the week and moral support to help us perform to our potential.

A long week that seemed to go by so quickly ended with success all round, yet plenty of improvements to work on for the challenges to come.  We bid a sad farewell for now to our colleagues, yet we look forward to the next chapter in our Taekwon-Do training journey.

HSTS squad results

Ella Flavell-McNelliey, Bronze U18 Female Hyper Weight sparring.  Silver U16 Female team power breaking, Bronze U18 Female team special technique

Elliot Callahan, Gold U18 II Degree patterns – European Champion.  Gold U16 Male team patterns, silver U16 Male team sparring, silver U16 team Male special technique, silver U16 Male team power breaking

Greg Rose, Bronze Adult Male Middle Weight sparring

Isabelle Baker, Gold U18 Female Middle Weight sparring – European Champion, Silver U18 Female special technique

Kelly Rose, Gold Adult Female special technique – European Champion.  Bronze Adult Female Welter Weight Sparring, Bronze Adult Female II Degree Patterns.  Gold Adult Female team sparring, Gold Adult Female team patterns, Silver Adult Female team power breaking, silver Adult Female team special technique

Patrick Dion-Fehily, Gold Adult Male II Degree patterns – European Champion

Tom McNelliey, Gold Adult Male Middle Weight sparring – European Champion

William Southern, Silver Senior Male Welter Weight sparring