MARTIAL ARTS: The Australia Karate team returned from the second JKA Asia Oceania Championships with a seven medal haul – an achievement which would have been halved without the influence of Mackay competitors.
Twenty students of the Mackay Central Highlands squad travelled to Bangkok earlier in the month and returned with four of the seven medals won by team Australia.
Under the guidance of Mackay’s Sensei Lutie van den Berg, who is a seventh dan, the JKA Australia National team soared to new heights.
Given that Japan, who Van Den Berg praised as the peak of the martial art worldwide, had four representatives in every division, the Australian coach was unyielding in his praise for his students.
“The fact that Japan was in the mix meant getting a medal or just making the final eight was a really a really big achievement,” he said.
“Fifteen countries competed in the Asian Oceania Championship along with guest countries America and South America competing, so I’m really happy with how it went.”
The Mackay students returned with one silver and four bronze medals.
The highest medal winner from Mackay, Andrew Jansen, claimed Silver Medal in men’s 40 to 44 year old Kumite, a contact sparing category.
Jamie Bridgeman won the Bronze Medal in girls 15-year-old Kumite.
Chané Brits won the Bronze Medal in ladies Team Kumite and made the final eight in ladies Kata, a choreographed martial arts routine that is judged. Brits finished fifth overall for her Kata.
Matthew Ellem and Andrew Wells were part of the team that won the bronze medal in the men’s team Kumite.
Ellem also made the final eight in men’s Individual Kumite.
Wells was cut short in the top 16 men’s individual Kumite champion when he lost to Yusuke Haga , the All Japan Champion.
Mackay has grown into a stalwart in Australian Karate which was reflected by both competitor and coaching representation.
Van den Berg has been the national coach for the past few years. In that time he said he had nurtured several other coaches to reach national heights.
Mackay Central Highlands boasted three coaches of eight in the national coaching staff. Mackay Senseis Robyn Johnsen, Stewart Isles and Lisa Cameron all travelled to Bangkok as junior national coaches
“Just having these people there was something special,” van den Berg said.
Although the remaining 16 Mackay competitors missed out on medal placement, van den Berg said his students represented Mackay and Australia with pride.
With the 2020 world championships around the corner van den Burg was confident that most of his students would be at Tokyo next year.
“Based on the amount of people in the National team now, I think most of, if not all, of these students will be in the team,” he said.
“The hard work hasn’t stopped, this is just a small stop on the way to a bigger achievement.”
The other Mackay rankings were:
Madison Dewhurst 4th place in girls 9 year old Kata and final 8 Kumite
Holly Bates girls 9 year old Kata and Kumite competed very well
Lily Wells Final 6 girls 10 year old Kumite
Clay Sferatore final 8 boys 11 year old Kata
Rory Gersbach boys 13 year old Kata and Kumite
Parka Shorten Final 8 Girls 12 year old Kumite
Jake Sferatore Final 8 Boys 14 year old Kata
Sydney Annetts Final 8 girls 14 years old Kumite
Izik Shorten Final 8 boys 15 year old Kumite
Emielia Jansen Final 8 Girls 15 year old Kumite
Ashley Camilleri Final 8 Girls 15 year old Kumite