March 4th saw our first squad trip to the Legend Open nationals competition. We had chosen 14 students to represent AKA at this prestigious event, which is attended by some of the country's finest competitors. Our aim for the day was team cohesion and experience on the mats.
Our journey started at 7am at McDonalds (of course!) where we met and drove up in convoy. Whilst registration was taking place nerves were evident and the group camaraderie began with advice, reassurance and hair braiding! The AKA Senseis were equally as excited and nervous as the competitors and were on hand for any help needed.
Throughout the day it was wonderful to have the support of mums and dads, nans and granddads and brothers and sisters including Orlaith Galloway who had come all the way from PORTSMOUTH with a homemade banner to support the AKA!
Up first were the cadets for kata and kumite. The categories were very competitive and Luke Loveridge set the precedent with a good heian nedan. Seren Evans, Tamia Varghese, Chloe Jafkins, Bethany Arnold and Sammy Porter then went next, some getting through into the next round.
It all got very exciting for the cadet girls kumite with warrior performances from Seren Evans, Sammy Porter and Bethany Arnold. There were some tough competitors in the category and the ice packs were bought out for some war wounds! The girls gave an excellent performance with Seren Evans scoring a Jodan mawashi geri to secure her a bronze trophy!
The men's individual kata was up next and with 69 competitors in the event it was no mean feat! Warren Longshaw, Mike Smallpage and Ionut Hentea all gave a solid display of heian katas.
Next up was the ladies kata event with Joanne Longshaw, Casper Daniels, Nikita Van Niekerk and Amber Harrod competing for AKA. They all managed some good performances of heian katas with two making it through to the second round.
The men's kumite was a very tough category with some international fighters being paired against Warren Longshaw and Ionut Hentea both who put on a brave display of Kumite and got some valuable experience. Mike Smallpage made it through to the second round with a sharp and committed effort.
The mixed team kumite was represented by Ionut Hentea, Casper Daniels and Mike Smallpage who also stepped up to the plate and gave a stellar performance with some tough competitors.
It was then the turn of The cadet girls team kata. Even the threat of a disqualification jogai line on the mat didn't put them off and they walked away with second place trophy with a classy display of heian Godan.
The cadet boys kumite was again full of some very experienced young men but Jack Arnold and Luke Loveridge held their own and gave a professional and sharp display of kumite against the competitors who came 1st and 2nd in that category! The competition at this point had run over time but all competitors and supporters were still there (with their picnics!) cheering us on.
The ladies then stepped up for their individual kumite event. Again the ice packs were dished out for some pretty impressive injuries but in true AKA style our competitors carried on regardless. Amber Harrod managed to secure a place in the finals.
10pm saw the finals begin and the Ladies team - Amber Harrod, Nikita van Niekerk and Casper Daniels staged a nail biting finale seeing them achieve gold!
We left the sports centre at 10.45pm with smiles, trophies, bruises and left over picnic. The AKA instructors are immensely proud of the squad for the determination, sportsmanship and bravery that was shown on the day and our mission was definitely accomplished!