THE Irish senior and junior karate teams, both gearing up to compete in the upcoming SKIF World Championships in Prague, have a very strong West Cork mix to the line up.
Coach for the Ireland junior karate squad is Bandon native Sensei Garrett O’Donovan. Garrett is a 6th Dan karate black belt and has been involved in karate with almost 40 years. He was a member of the Ireland karate senior squad for over ten years.
Included in his junior squad heading to Prague this month are four members of Crookstown Karate Club – Aisling O’Donovan, Newcestown, Robert Lehane, Kilmichael, Kevin O’Donoghue, Kilmurry, and Adam Sheehan, Crookstown. For Aisling, Robert and Kevin it will be their first time competing in the international arena.
Aisling, who goes to St Brogan’s Secondary School in Bandon, is looking forward to the competition and hopes ‘to stay in contention for as long as possible.’ For Robert, it’s all about ‘gaining experience from different competitors, and doing a good job representing your country,’ and for Kevin, the trip to Prague is all about ‘putting in a good fight and hoping to have a strong impact.’
Crookstown teen Adam Sheehan is no stranger to the bright lights of big competition, having already tasted success in Prague at the SKIF European Championship two years ago, taking home a bonze medal in Kumite (fighting). Adam is looking forward to ‘competing with the best, and gaining experience from different opponents at the same level.’
And in the senior Irish karate squad, the high-kicking and hard-hitting club in Crookstown have two competitors representing their country. Ben O’Donoghue and Bláithín Casey, both current national karate champions, are strong advocates of the benefits that a sport like karate can offer.
‘It’s excellent for keeping sprits high during exam times. Exercise like karate can be a fantastic motivator,’ Ben explains.
And for Bláithín the World Championships in Prague are all about ‘getting through the first few rounds and getting down to the last eight.’ She concurs with Ben that the goal has to be ‘the all-important medal.’
The SKIF World Championships take place in Prague from July 19th to 21st.