Sunday 19th February saw Penarth Leisure Centre, just outside Cardiff, packed with the UK’s finest Taekwon-Do competitors including 4 intrepid members of Team Blue Dragon – Chief Instructor Mr Al. Walkinshaw, his daughter & Assistant Instructor Miss Lyndsay Walkinshaw, team regular Emily Oakes and first time competitor Mark Gatcliffe.
After a hectic start with all the formalities out the way including the weigh-in the Black Belt competition began. As usual the initial sections are the ITF Patterns wherre the competitors display their power, balance, precision & knowledge against each other. First up was Miss Walkinshaw, competing in arguably one of the most difficult sections, and battling away to her’s and our first medal of the day with a Bronze in Junior Female 2nd Degree Black Belt Patterns. Not to be outdone by his daughter, the Blue Dragon himself, Mr Walkinshaw was next up in the Senior Male 3rd Degree Patterns section also winning a Bronze for the second consecutive year.
Next the focus turned to the colour belts with perpetual medalist Emily Oakes up next in the Cadet Female 3rd-1st Kup Patterns, displaying all the brilliance that has brought her so many medals over the last 2 years, performing some simply stunning kicks only to be narrowly beaten in the final with a split judges decision, but claiming her first medal of the day with a very well deserved Silver to add to her already huge collection. That just left newbie Mark Gatcliffe in the Senior Mens 10th-7th Kup Patterns to make it a 100% strike rate. Mark certainly didn’t disappoint and delivered one of his best performances to date and won his first ever Taekwon-Do medal with a superbly well deserved Gold to make him 2012 Welsh Champion, and keep up the 100% success for team Blue Dragon.
Now came the bit everyone really want to see with the sparring section and again it was Black Belts first, that meant Miss Walkinshaw stepping into the ring and facing current European Champion Charlie Bradford-Gibbs. Right from the start Miss Walkinshaw had her opponent on the back foot forcing her back and chasing her around the ring, landing kicks and punches that for some reason the judges were oblivious to, while her opponents score inexplicably seemed to rocket up. Over the next gruelling couple of rounds the pace she set herself at the start began to take its toll and as her guard dropped the experienced fighter took her chance and started to pick off Miss Walkinshaw with combination after combination of devestating blows, including several to the illeagl area of the back of the head which again went unpunished. in the end it was clear there was only ever going to be one winner but claiming her second medal of the day with another Bronze an exhausted Miss Walkinshaw collapsed at the side of the ring and required medical attention with an ambulance being called due to concerns over the blows taken to the back of the head. Luckilly after 2 hours she was discharged and returned to the arena.
Next up was the main hope for more Gold with current British Champion Emily Oakes in her favourite event. Maybe it was the long wait maybe just a momentary lapse, but for some reason Emily just wasnt her normal self and was picked off by her arch nemesis Imogen Allen, but again managed to battle her way to yet more bling with a Bronze medal.
That once again put all the presssure on Mark Gatcliffe to maintain the standard set by the girls. This time he was facing an almighty challenge with thr prospect of fighting a much taller and very much more experienced opponent in the form of a 1st Kup who is due to grade to black belt soon. never the less the brave warrior that he is Mark stepped up to the plate and like Miss walkinshaw before him he flew straight in with a barrage of kicks and punches taking and early lead and forcing his opponent back. The more experienced fighter, took his time and gradually picked of our man with precision strikes over the course of the fight, meaining it wasnt to be a second Gold but a very well deserved Bronze for the first time fighter.
So in summary we had 4 competitors, winning a total of 7 medals, that included 1 Gold, 1 Silver and 5 Bronze. An absolutely fantastic result!!!