Karate

Ireland’s Olympic Karate Prospects

On Thursday 28th of June, Karate was welcomed into the Olympic Council of Ireland. Karate will make its debut as an Olympic sport when it features at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo 2020. Kumite and Kata will be the two events to feature and a maximum of 40 women overall will be able to qualify. We take a look at what this could mean for Ireland’s Olympic hopefuls.

Olympic Kumite is Karate’s fighting element of the sport. Two individuals wearing glove and foot protection are involved in a 2 minute fight. The goal is to score points using kicks, punches, strikes, throws and sweeps. The first person to score eight points or the person with the most points after the 2 minutes have passed is the adjudged to be winner. Check out the cool video below to understand the scoring rules:

Kumite will be competed in the following weight classes:

Women’s Events
Kumite – 55kg
Kumite – 61kg
Kumite  68kg+

Kata is the other form of Karate featured at the Olympics. This is the individual representation of Karate’s self-defence techniques. The athlete puts to together a performance routine that usually lasts 2-3 minutes. Upon completion, judging is made on the speed, strength, focus, breathing, balance and rhythm.

With the chance to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2020, the members of the current Irish Senior Ladies Kumite team will be aiming to book a place in Tokyo. The current squad consists of:

The Kata Senior Ladies team consists of:

Sligo-born, former champion kickboxer, Caradh O’Donovan, will be hoping to use her vast kickboxing experience to her advantage as she aims to qualify for Tokyo 2020. O’Donovan holds 11 World Cup kickboxing gold and 3 World Championship bronze medals. Within a year of taking it up, the transition of sports seems to have been no bother to Caradh as she already finds herself part of the national squad. She is currently the number one ranked 61kg fighter in the country and is yet to be beaten on home soil. Caradh has had a great start to 2018 already claiming gold in the IKKU Open and the JKS Open.

As Karate is still considered to be an entry level sport by Sport Ireland, there is no funding yet available to these Irish athletes. In order to make their goals of Olympic qualification a realistic possibility, a few athletes have set up their own GoFundMe pages. Check them out below:

Caradh O’Donovan: https://www.gofundme.com/caradhs-olympic-dream

Shauna Mullaney: https://www.gofundme.com/im-an-athlete-and-i-need-your-help

Lauren Duffy: https://www.gofundme.com/32sgj-chasing-the-dream

Mairi Kerin is currently Ireland’s highest ranked representative with 345 points sitting 79th in the 55kg category rankings. Kerin began training with the Irish squad back in 2013 and has consistenly featured in the Series A and Premier League competitions this year.

Shauna Mullaney is another Olympic hopeful in the 55kg category. Mullaney has been a member of the national squad since she was 12 and will hope to build on her ranking of 186th with the upcoming events which take place. Shauna finished 11th in the last World Championships and won gold in the U21 Scottish open. Shauna is currently juggling her studies with her Karate ambitions in DCU and will look to build on her evident talent.

Ireland’s Ladies after the Series A competition in Guadalajara. Pic from @SniShauna Twitter

In November, Madrid will host the WKF World Senior Championships and this will be one of the most important tournaments as this event allocates the highest number of ranking points for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 rankings for qualification.

It will be interesting to see how the senior ladies sqaud get on in the next few months which will be crucial in qualifying for Tokyo 2020. With several K1 Premier Leagues, Series A and the all-important World Senior Championships, it’s an exciting road ahead for these talented athletes. Next up is the K1 Premier League in Berlin from September 14-16. You can watch all the action live here!

HerSport Editor

Her Sport is a media platform centred on bringing the latest Irish and international women’s sports news. Her Sport aims to empower women in sport, inspire more female participation, increase opportunity and level the playing field for future generations. Our objective is to create real and tangible change.

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