Flanders open 2018

We took a team in the battle bus to the Flanders open in Antwerp, Belgium. This is one of the best and hardest tournaments to win. No lower grades or intermediates. Just one section for each weight division and it brings the best out from Europe and beyond. Yet it is still a small tournament.
We travelled by ferry on the Friday and arrived at the venue to weigh in. All the people running the event  are very friendly and accommodating and the organisation is excellent. We then took off to the hotel. checked in and went out for something to eat.
Saturday was the kids and open weight section. George fought a tough German opponent and hit him with some great straight body shouts, but the refs refused to see them and he ended up chasing the fight and narrowly losing.
Robbie came out against a heavy Russian opponent, but couldn't get his attacking head on today.
Paige found out that we entered her in the Musical Forms!!! I thought  she should have a go and I could yodel on the side!

Paige then entered her two other sections and dominated with her strong kicks and powerful punching she won through several rounds to the evening finals. She the joined a some other British girls for the team event and won through to the final again. 

Charlotte showed great improvement and is building on the experience gained from the World championships. She is fighting the bigger opponents much better now and controlling the bout. She too was in the evening final.

Charlottes second section saw her once again fight the bigger opponent well and not receive the points that she scored. It is so frustrating when this happens. We look at the videos after and can see the shots that are missed, but ther is not much you can do at the time.

After all the round fighting had finished we settled down for the finals which  were in a great setting with spotlights and entry music etc. Charlotte was up first and fought a great bout once again. The points going either way for two rounds. With a few seconds to go Charlotte hit her opponent with a round kick in the face which would have sealed the deal, but the refs missed it. In the dying seconds she scored a body shot as her opponent scored and the refs favoured the other girl so Charlotte had top settle for silver this time.

Kat was fighting in the ladies -75 light continuous. Kat is in the British team for the European championships next mont fighting in the Ladies vets section. here she was aginst teh younger ladies and was not expecting to win, but get some valuable practice in. She gave a great account of herself against a strong and fast opponent. Kat never flinched and hit some nice straight shots and combinations. She lost the bout, but she got some great exoerince and has raised her confidence for the Euros.

Killian fought in his section as well and made it to the semis. He was showing some great kicking and blitzing skills in the prvious rounds and it was an even fight in the semi finals, but he was looking away when throwing punches and that dropped his accuracy level. Eventually he lost, but got a bronze.

Paige came up against a very strong German girl  and world champion in her first final. The first round saw the points going back and forth and it was even at the bell. In the second round Paige seemed to freeze and allowed her opponent to score some body shots and move ahead. Paige found it difficult to  recover and eventually lost the bout.
In her second final it was a similar story. Paige was strong and dominating at first and then let her opponent move ahead to win.  This was unusual for her as she normally fights like a tiger for the whole fight.The finals were high pressure in front of everyone and she has picked up great experience and not forgetting 2 silvers against the toughest opponents.

Next was the team finals and paige once again came out to face strong opponents. this time she focused for the whole bout and gave a great fight. Her team was always chasing the points and at the end they were once again in the silver spot.
After the presentations the day finished about 11pm and we all trudged wearily back to the hotel.

Next day was the adults sections George was up first against Stefan. He fougt a good fight, but once again the refs were not scoring the body punch. I stopped the fight to ask them if they were scoring that technique today? They said yes and the next moment they scored George's punch! Sometimes refs seem to be geared to score only certain moves?? george pulled the fight back from 5-0 to 5-5, But in the end he lost by a point .

Rory was in the semi final of the  mens -75kg vets. At first he got caught by a kick and a punch from his opponent, but when he settled down he got the measure of him and was controlling the leg and scoring reverse punches. Near the end of the bout he did his usual thing of scoring a head kick to draw himself one point behind. In the final seconds he was desperately trying to get that extra point but it was not to be and so Bronze for Rory. His opponent went on to win the final easily and we discovered that he was a 4th dan and world champion, which made Rory the Purple belt feel much better.

George's final fight was in the -74kg category and here he did not rais ehis game against an opponent that he should have beaten comfortably. The fight game requres you to have everything working well in a  bout, especially at this top level. When you are off your game you just have to chalk it up to experience and move on, which George knows how to do. 

Annais was up in the ladies section and another close bout. When she attacks and does not hesitate after the leading kick Annais scores, But sometimes that hesitation allowed her opponent in and she lost by a point here.

I was up in te mens vets +75kg finals next against the world champion in the 2nd to last bout of the whole weekend at 8.30pm. It was a long wait and after 2 years out and an serious leg operation I did not know what to expect.  |I got out there and made all the mistakes that I have a go at all our other fighters for making. :) I lost the bout by quite a few points, but once again. I felt  I was not getting the points that I scored. I was pleased with some aspects of the fight and some need attention, but my fitness was ok and I gained a silver for the team.

Following the presentations we went into Antwerp and found a bar that sell 300+ beers. After drinking that dry we had the Belgian version of a Kebab and then went back to the hotel.
During the trip home on Monday we stopped off in Bruges for some sight seeing, shopping and waffles. 

It was a great weekend and  we had some good bouts and won some bling, but of coures we want golds and we could have had 5  this weekend. That's fighting for ya. Flanders is a great tournament with awesome organisation and a friendly attitude. I think the reffing was a litte below par this year though.
We will be back next year.

Well done team.

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