Friday 28th February saw 17 of us jet off to the city of Dublin to compete in the 2014 Irish Open. For anyone not familiar, the Irish Open is the biggest and best kickboxing tournament on the global calendar and where the elite of our great sport come to compete every year. This year there were over 3500 fighters doing battle with each other across 3 days, watched by nearly 2000 spectators.
Over the course of Saturday and Sunday we represented the club, fighting across many different divisions, some of us making our international debuts including Hayden Corby and Ryan O’Grady from the Kids class.
On Saturday Steve Gribbins and Heather Chilcott competed in their continuous matches and fought with a lot of intensity in two tough match ups, just losing out on the win. The day also saw our senior men Ron Peploe, George Peploe and Steve O’Grady fight points with Ron using his experience to ease through into the second round where he lost out on the final point in slightly controversial circumstances. George unfortunately suffered a broken nose just seconds into his fight with a leggy opponent and was unable to continue which was tremendously disappointing considering his recent comeback from serious injury (although it made for a great war wound and video for the Facebook page!). Steve was unable to find his usual crackerjack timing and was bested on the day to go also out in the first round.
On Sunday Ryan and Hayden stepped up to represent the kids and fought their hearts out, just narrowly losing to more experienced competition. Both lads put on a great show and made us all very proud (especially their Dads!) demonstrating just how hard they both trained for the event and took their fighting to new dimensions as a result. Watch out for these future superstars in the years to come!
Heather stepped back onto the matt for her points fight, along with Philippa Peploe, Charisse Peploe, Debs Peploe and Kiri White all representing the BKO ladies. Particular nods go to Charisse and Kiri, who despite just losing out showed just how hard they have been training and gave both of their opposition tough fights.
Later that day Andy Partridge and Paul Corio fought in the Intermediate men’s -80kg and +80kg divisions respectively. Andy showed off his classy style and speed, very narrowly losing out to a fighter he will definitely come back and beat next year. Next up was Paul who despite a cagey start and a tough scrap (and several falls off the matt!) came back from behind to nudge the win by a point, going out in the second round losing out to a more experienced fighter.
During this time, we also took the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere, rub shoulders with world champions and watch the best of the best close up and take away some moves we can add to our own fighting styles. The experience was invaluable to us all and every single BKO fighter raised their skills to new levels to compete well and represent our little club from Basingstoke with pride on the world stage. We also managed to squeeze in a few pints of Guinness!
There are lots of tournaments coming up throughout the rest of the year and it would be great to see more representation of BKO from our men, women and kids, from novices to the more advanced fighters. If you don’t feel like fighting or just want to see what it’s like and show your support, that would be fantastic too. We will keep you updated in club and on the Facebook page for future events.