PENARTH youngsters were well to the fore when a squad from Vale Karate showed great form at the national championships of the Federation of English Karate Organisations.
Vale Karate sent a squad of 11 to the championships for children and cadets in Nottingham and these included five from Penarth - Harrison Williams, Max Baker, Chiara Baker, Emma Squire and Leigha Goddard. The squad was coached
by chief instructor Rob Copeland and Karate Wales national coach Gareth Reynolds.
There were two Vale duos - Josh Dwyer and Harrison Williams and Kloe Christoforato and Emma Squire - in action in the U15 kata pairs category, with the former being regulars in the Welsh Karate League competing as Vale Karate Vipers. However, Emma and Kloe do not usually compete together.
After the first of two rounds, Emma and Kloe were second and Josh and Harrison fourth. In the second and final round, the girls scored enough to keep them second, while the boys delighted supporters by pulling off a superb kanku sho, complete with very well synchronised jumps, to secure the highest marks of the entire competition and move into joint second with the girls. In a tense tie-break, the girls won five flags to zero to pip the third-placed boys for second spot.
There were well over 40 competitors in the 10-12 individual kata, with all five Vale competitors finishing in the top 12 after the first round. Following the second round, Harrison Williams and Vale Karate's 10-year-old two-time WUKF European champion Chiara Baker were still in medal contention, but a mistake from the latter ended her hopes of a medal. Harrison earned a good bronze.
Narrowly failing to take top spot, the Vale's two entrants in the 13-15 kata, Emma and Kloe, finished second and third respectively.
In the kumite events, Vale Karate unveiled their true strength, and strength in depth.
Both Vale teams in the 10-12 boys' event brushed the opposition aside to progress to the final, where Josh, Harrison and Jack were a little too experienced for Ryan, Max and Finnian.
The boys continued their fantastic form as each earned individual medals.
Jack and Max progressed to the last four of the U35kg section before the latter settled for a third spot, while Jack went all the way and, with some exceptional kicks, took the top trophy.
Likewise Josh and Harrison were the best in the U 45kg category and met in the final where the former won a very tight encounter.
There was a third 10-12 boys' title for the Vale when Ryan O'Donovan won the O55 kg category.
After his heroics in the team event, nine-year-old Finnian O'Donovan was very unlucky to miss out on a higher placing in the U10s and took home bronze.
Leigha Goddard, a relative newcomer to Vale Karate, but a skilled and committed nine-year-old, was in a different class to her opponents and won the U10 girls' trophy.
With two kata trophies each in their bags, Kloe and Emma were too good for the opposition in their kumite events, both reaching the finals of the 13-15 ippon and sanbon events. Sharing honours, Emma was triumphant in sanbon and Kloe was ippon champion.
The squad is now preparing for the fourth WKL event of the season in Wrexham on July 13.