Karate kids prove their class

Back row, from left: George Oliver, Richard Weave and Sam Weaver. Front row, from left: Elliott Smith, Justin Baldwin and Cameron Smith
Back row, from left: George Oliver, Richard Weave and Sam Weaver. Front row, from left: Elliott Smith, Justin Baldwin and Cameron Smith
Joel McIntyre.  Picture: Neil Marshall

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LOVEDEAN Karate Club marked their 30th anniversary in style.

Already renowned for being one of the country’s top Shotokan Karate clubs, the local outfit reinforced that reputation with a string of eye-catching medal-winning performances – both at home and abroad.

The club celebrated wholesale success at The Legend Shotokan Open Championships in Bracknell and the annual SEKU Championships in Portsmouth.

And when representing SEKU – Shotokan of England Karate Union – at the Italian Open, Lovedean members didn’t let their national team-mates down, helping the squad to fourth overall in Turin.

Second dans Sam Weaver and George Oliver formed part of the successful squad in Italy, with the latter winning individual bronze.

Both teenagers – along with fellow second Dan Richard Weaver – head an exciting conveyor belt of talent emerging from the Napier Hall-based outfit.

The progress of Elliott Smith (first dan), Justin Baldwin and Cameron Smith also ensures the future is bright, giving sensei Brian Smith much pride on the club’s 30th birthday.

‘They have all done tremendously well – and it’s a nice coincidence that it’s all come on the club’s 30th anniversary,’ said Smith.

‘Everyone has put in a lot of hard work over the past 12 months, they’ve taken everything on board and not let anyone down.

‘The long-term future of the club looks very good. The progress made by everyone has been great.’

Elliott Smith got the glory trail rolling with his first-place finish at The Legend Championships in Bracknell. Competing in the 12-15-year-old kata, he saw off a top-class international field to claim first place and provide inspiration for the rest of his team-mates.

Sam Weaver secured second in the 16-to-21-year-old kata section, while Oliver celebrated a creditable treble – coming third in the same section, while also taking second in the kumite competition.

He then rounded off the day by helping the SEKU squad take the prestigious team title.

The elite duo continued to enhance their growing reputations with notable performances at the Italian Open, before demonstrating their prowess – along with the rest of the Lovedean squad – at the Mountbatten Centre.

It was the venue for the SEKU Championships, where a medal haul of two golds, four silver and three bronze was the club’s reward for a good day’s work.

The kata team of Richard Weaver, Sam Weaver and Elliott Smith set the tone, with a second-place performance in their category.

Debutant Baldwin, competing in the under-10 kata, then showed his potential by claiming third – much to the delight of his family and team-mates.

Cameron Smith had to settle for fourth in the same category, but made up for that by taking a deserved second in the three-step kumite.

Fresh from his showing in Bracknell, Elliott Smith continued the trend by claiming three medals in quick succession first came a silver in the over-five three-step section, followed by another second in the over-five freestyle and then gold when defending his individual kata crown.

Sam Weaver’s performance in his kata category against top international rivals made him one of the favourites to take gold.

He, unfortunately, had to settle for third – but was soon celebrating gold after helping the kumite team – including Richard Weaver and Oliver – take the overall title after a sterling win over Cornwall visitors Saltash.

As expected, sensei Smith was delighted with his talents’ heroics on the day.

‘They all did very well,’ he said.

‘This was a top international competition, with entrants coming from all over Britain, Belgium and Holland.

‘The competition was very tough, but, once gain, the team produced the goods.’