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SGTKD's Golden Summer
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For some of the young members of Stoke Gifford TKD the biggest and most anticipated event of this year took place in July...the ITF European Championships in Barcelona.

Five Giff students flew out to join and represent Team UK... Ben Baker-Attwood, Joseph Elson, Ollie Robertshaw, Ben Chapman and Kieran McDermott, who had also been selected as a member of the Elite Squad. They were accompanied by their parents and supporters and of course their instructor Miss Kerry Burridge, who was also there to fulfil her role as one of the Team UK coaches. Phoebe Grandfield initially travelled out to support but ended up being asked to join the junior girls team at very short notice.

On Wednesday 10th July, after flying from Bristol Airport the competitors and supporters arrived at the hotel in Barcelona and soon took to the pool and the bar! Team bonding had begun! Once the evening had arrived, bringing with it cooler temperatures, the coaches gathered the competitors together for a light training session in the hotel grounds.

Thursday morning started with a subdued breakfast as some of the athletes were preparing themselves for the weigh in by either going for a run, skipping breakfast or doing both. Thankfully the whole team were successful in meeting their weights on the first attempt and the reward was a hearty breakfast and the rest of the day to relax. Some opted to explore and experience some of the sights of Barcelona whilst others stayed and chilled out at the hotel.  At the end of the day another light training session took place, this time under any cover that could be found due to a heavy rain shower!

On Friday 12th the championships began and the junior boys kicked off the whole event by competing in the U14 and U16 patterns. In the U14s Ollie, Kieran and Ben C overcame their nerves and the pressures of taking part in their first major international competition and did themselves, their club and their country proud by each winning a medal. Ben C achieved bronze, Kieran silver and Ollie won gold becoming the first European Champion of the event! Joseph and Ben BA soon followed in the U16s and had the added pressure of performing on the centre ring. Joe put in brilliant effort and was unlucky not to come away with a medal. Ben BA gave great performances and became the  second gold medallist and European Champion. Sparring followed in the afternoon and again all the boys put in 100% effort and each of them were rewarded with a podium place. This time Ollie won bronze in U14s microweight and Joseph won bronze in U16s microweight. Ben C (U14s micro weight), Kieran (U14s lightweight) and Ben BA (U16s lightweight) were outstanding and all were rewarded by winning their category and becoming European Champions. With their categories finished for the day the boys used up what remaining energy they had by cheering on their UK teammates, and new found friends, as they competed in patterns. We all then returned to the hotel weary but elated after a truly successful and amazing day.

Saturday 13th saw Phoebe join Beth, Jordan, Lydia and Emily in the junior girls team and considering they were thrown together at the last minute they bonded straight away and performed as if they had been practising together for weeks. Their reward? A gold medal each! The remainder of the day was spent with the boys running from ring to ring as their enthusiasm drove them to cheer on and support whichever of their team mates were sparring at the time. The day finished on a high as the first of the medal ceremony’s took place and no doubt the other countries tired of hearing our national anthem played so many times!! The boys certainly enjoyed their experience of international podium places!

Sunday 14th brought with it a day of power and special technique. There was no cadet category here so Ben C, Kieran and Ollie did their best to support those that did take part, including Phoebe, Ben BA and Joseph. They all had a fantastic day witnessing some amazing displays of power and once again Phoebe and the girl’s team triumphed with another gold and European title. Special technique proved a hazardous event for Miss Burridge as she was completely taken out and given a very large bruise by two of her own team!! At the end of the day it was time fr the the final medals ceremony and it would have been impossible to wipe the smile off Phoebes face! Finally  the “Best Overall” presentation took place and it was a very proud moment for Team UK and SGTKD as Ben BA was awarded best overall U16’s boy in Europe, Ben C best overall U14’s boy in Europe, the junior girls best overall team and the UK Junior Team best overall country in Europe. We all left the venue for the final time on a high as we realised what a fantastic experience  and very successful championships we all had. Back at hotel the celebrations continued around the pool as everyone finally relaxed.

The welcome and support shown to all the Giff competitors and supporters by the UK coaches and team members (including competitors, umpires, coaches, administrators & spectators) was greatly appreciated and friendships made there will last a long time. This combined with such a healthy haul of medals and trophies returning to Bristol  really has resulted in a golden summer for SGTKD.

Our greatest gratitude goes to Miss Burridge. The success achieved by the boys and Phoebe would not have been possible without your skill, dedication and patience in training them over the years. Thank you.

Written by: SGTKD - 14th October 2013

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