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Lancaster University Karate team were hungry to add another consecutive year of taking home BUCS medals; broken only by their non-attendence in 2011 due to administrative errors. The event was held over the weekend 17th-18th March at Sheffield.
The first day started with individual kata, otherwise known as patterns, and was a morning of almost but not quite successes for Lancaster.
Robin Walkden looked promising in novice kata but the quality of the other competitors proved too high by the semi-finals and Walkden was defeated competing for the bronze, losing 4-1 on judge’s decision.
The standard was raised further as Jonathan Longden lost his first round in black belt kata against an England squad member who came 5th at the European Championships. Meanwhile, a bronze was given in intermediate kata to ex-Captain Simon Albright – a medal won for Huddersfield University, which Albright had unfortunately just joined after many years at Lancaster.
The main Saturday event was team kumite (fighting) and it initially looked like a deeply disappointing day, with a heavy handed Manchester beating the male kumite team and temporarily injuring two Lancaster members.
Meanwhile, the female kumite team lost to Swansea, with Zoe Lambrou and Charlotte Askey against a team with two women who won medals on Sunday.
However, Manchester reached the finals which put the male kumite team back into the fight in the repecharge to compete for bronze.
The team won a close match against Glasgow with impressive wins scoring 6-0 for Gareth Dunkerly and 3-0 for Longden, putting them into the semifinals against Kent.
The team looked good against Kent with Manos Arvanitis securing a 3-0 win, Aaron Melayu losing his fight before Gareth claimed a 5-0 victory. One more victory in that match and Lancaster would be on the podium.
However, Longden was too injured to take part so everything hung upon a victory by Walkden or the reservist Sam Fellowes; neither of whom had fought that day or previously fought in a competition.
Walkden narrowly lost to his more experienced opponent so it all came down to Lancaster needing a victory in the last fight, which saw Fellowes drawing 0-0 until receiving a kick in the last few seconds, consequently meaning a loss 2-0. This left the Lancaster men’s team a very respectable 5th out of 19 teams.
On Sunday, individual novice kumite kicked off the day, with each novice team member gaining valuable experience in what was only their second competition fight.
Zoe Lambrou and Fellowes drew their fight but lost on the judge’s decision whilst Walkden lost having reached the semi-finals.
The afternoon saw the individual senior kumite events and in the women’s category Askey performed well and managed to draw 0-0 only to lose on the judge’s decision to a woman who reached the semi-final.
In the male -67kg senior category Arvanitis drew on points but lost on the judge’s decision and Longden lost his match after receiving another injury to the same location as Saturday.
Lancaster’s hope of a medal rested upon the men’s +84kg senior category. Melayu won his first match 3-0 whilst his second fight was close and hard fought against the eventual Gold medal winner from Herriot Watt University, the match only turning against him in the final 30 seconds.
Dunkerley was drawn against an opponent from York in his first fight and won 10-0 in 40 seconds.
In the next round, against an old rival, Dunkerly lost 6-4 which left him in a bronze medal fight against another competitor from Herriot Watt. The tense runner-up match started badly,with Dunkerly taking a mashigeri to go 2-0 down, with the team gripped watching from the barrier. However, a series of good punches put Dunkerly into the lead and a three point takedown sealed the victory and a bronze medal for Lancaster.
This article was co-written with Becky Clark and Gareth Dunkerley.