Havant talent Cunningham is going up in the world

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Alfie Cunningham proved his class on the biggest stage of all with a superb performance to reach the World Championship final in Tokyo.

The Havant karate talent did his country and his club proud with some sparkling kata routines to see off rivals from around the globe and book his spot in the last eight.

His charge towards the medals ended in the final as the Japanese dominated their home event.

But Cunningham’s performance, on top of reaching the European Championship finals earlier this year and securing two national medals, again showed he has outstanding promise in the sport.

Havant coach Steve Fife also travelled to Japan, the home of karate, to support Cunningham and he was impressed by the 14-year-old’s composure and quality in such a prestigious event.

He said: ‘We did wonder if Alfie might be a bit overwhelmed by it all.

‘It’s the pinnacle of what we do. It was another level up from the Europeans.

‘This was the World Championships at the home of karate – you couldn’t dream of more.

‘There were 45 to 50 countries there competing and it was a lovely purpose-built venue, with six arenas.

‘Alfie went out there a week before the competition along with the rest of the England squad for fitness and karate training.

‘In the competition he took out an Australian, a German and a Russian to reach the final.

‘Overall, the Japanese dominated the finals but Alfie did really well to get into the final eight.

‘England only took three or four juniors, so it was a real privilege for Alfie and they all did well.

‘It was a good competition for the squad.’

Cunningham’s performances on the international stage have now cemented his spot in the England squad.

He trains regularly with the rest of the group in London.

Fife believes the future is bright for the Stamshaw ace.

He said: ‘Alfie is really close to getting medals at the biggest championships now.

‘In Japan, Alfie performed jion – a high black belt kata – to a top level to finish just outside the medals.

‘It was a great experience for him in his first world champs tournament, to go with finishing eighth in the european champs in Prague this year.

‘He still has work to do in the kumite (fighting and sparring) but he’s getting stronger and bigger.

‘The England coaches are very impressed with how Alfie is developing.

‘They work with him regularly now and the squad is like a close-knit family.’