On November 10th, East Coast Tae Kwon Do took part in the Challenger Cup held in Sitges, Spain. A group of supporters and competitors travelled to the event, bringing back a number of gold, silver and bronze medals.
Although the journey began on a bitter cold Friday morning with a 3am start, everybody was in good spirits at the thought of travelling to Spain. The flight across took 2.5hrs which felt like a shorter period of time and touched down in sunny Barcelona. A bus was organised to bring the group from the airport to the hotel in Sitges town, 30mins outside of Barcelona and everybody got settled in immediately. The hotel was very beautiful with modern interior rooms and an old Spanish style exterior that overlooked the pool, in the centre of the complex.
The Friday was spent relaxing, allowing the competitors to avert, or focus their minds on the competition the following day. The weather was hot, sunny, clear and enjoyable to walk around in, the opposite to Irish weather at this time of year, and a welcomed change. Sitges is a beautiful coastal town in sunny south of Spain with granite paved streets and white sandy beaches. The view out to the ocean was eye catching and the East Coast TKD group enjoyed the time spent exploring the town. The day was finished with a delicious meal in a local restaurant and the competitors getting to bed early, while a few others stayed out for a night cap.
In the morning mixed emotions of nerves and enthusiasm were among the competitors walking to the arena. The arena quickly filled up with groups representing England, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Holland. The competition was very well organised and quickly underway with black belt patterns for juniors and seniors. Our competitors did very well in their respective categories with some winning medals and others placing high in quarter and semi-finals. Sparring began after patterns which turned out to be intense with two 2 minute rounds and enjoyable to watch. All of our competitors got very tough fights and were pushed to their limits. A number of medals for sparring were also received with a few golds too! After the black belt sections, colour belts took part in their patterns and sparring. The colour belts did very well in both sections receiving gold, silver and bronze medals. Similar to the black belts, the colour belt competitors received tough fights but did extremely well with the challenge. The competition ended with a closing ceremony and awarding of the medals to those that won. Many pictures were taken and it was nice to have the focus on the podium when receiving your medal by everybody at the competition. Overall, the competition was enjoyed by everyone and all competitors were happy with their performances. They mentioned that it was refreshing to get abroad and compete against people from different countries and different fighting styles. That night was enjoyable, with everybody cooling off after a long day.
The Sunday afterwards was a quiet day; although some of the group had to leave, others travelled into the centre of Barcelona to explore its rich culture and historic monuments. It was wonderful to see Barcelona city with a tremendous cathedral in the heart and scenic docks along the coast. The Nou Camp, Barcelona’s soccer club home grounds, was visited but unfortunately it was not open. The visit to Barcelona and the chance to compete in a European cup was enjoyed by everyone. Congratulations to those who won medals and thanks to everyone who made the effort to travel and take part.