By Chris Caldwell
THREE members of Strabane Shotokan Karate Club enjoyed a successful start to their seasons at the seventh annual Ishoj Karate Cup in Copenhagen, Denmark, over the weekend, with one of them claiming a bronze medal.
Twenty-five year-old James McFadden, a first dan black belt, was arguably the star of the show among the Strabane contingent as he fought through four rounds, against a string of European opposition to earn a well-deserved bronze medal alongside Engilbert Arnason Olafur, in the male senior 75kg Kumite, which was won by Scotland’s Greg Anderson.
The quality of action was high throughout the prestigious event that saw seventeen countries and 702 participants vying for medals and another Strabane club member, Mark Kenny, who is also a first dan black belt, was agonisingly close to joining James on the third step of the podium. He impressed on his way through the rounds, but fell just short of claiming a medal as Scandanavian duo Tommy Kamhaug and Joni Kolari took bronze in the 67kg class.
The youngest member of the trio, Strabane Academy pupil Reuben Dunbar, was also in action in the Danish capital, but after a first round victory the young brown belt found the going a little tougher, losing at the second stage.
Also competing in Denmark in the 75kg class was former world under-21 champion Dermot McFeely, from Claudy, who trains in the Strabane Shotokan dojo on a fairly regular basis, and he finished an impressive fifth overall.
The performances of the Strabane club members is a real boost ahead of what is sure to be another hectic year for the Mopack Business Park-based outfit, who will have members competing throughout Ireland and beyond in 2018. The juniors will get their chance to shine in Belfast on February 3, while senior members will compete at the Scottish Open in March.
Meanwhile, the club will be holding an open seminar with Sensei Matt Price (6th Dan), Sensei Simon O’Dowd (5th Dan and Sensei James McFadden (1st Dan) on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, February 17 and 18, to celebrate the official opening of its refurbished dojo.
The seminar will run on the Saturday from 10:00am -12:00noon and 2:00pm-4:00pm and on the Sunday from 10:00am-12:00noon. There will also be a meal on the Saturday evening.
Anyone interested in getting involved in the club can come along on a Monday or Wednesday night between 6.30pm and 7.30pm, or for more information, visit its Facebook page.