I am just back from Berlin and a very successful European Kendo Championship. As the EKF’s Vice President said in his closing speech “the event was run with typical German efficiency”.
I always come away from these competitions with mixed feelings. It is always good to catch up with old friends from other countries and I very much enjoyed watching what matches I could, but after three long days on court as a referee, I went to Sunday’s sayonara party with almost a sense of relief.
For those of you not familiar with the EKC, it is a big event, as the European Kendo Zone also covers the Middle East and Africa. This year saw the first time inclusion of Mozambique and Georgia making a total of 30 countries. When you consider that within the three days there are team and individual competitions for juniors, men and women; that’s a lot of shiai!
With the differing experience levels between established and newer countries, some of the early matches showed obvious contrasts in ability, but once out of the pool rounds most of the shiai were very close and hard to predict. Although most of the countries in the medals table have been there before, their positions have changed. The French men’s , German ladies teams and the French Junior team won their events, with a very strong second from Belgium in the men’s event. Romania came second to France in the Junior team and individual events with Russia and France in third place. Fadai of Germany won the ladies title with Van der Woude from the Netherlands in second with Momcillovic form Serbia and Boviz from Hungary coming third. Giannetto of Italy beat Nakabayashi of France in the men’s final with Fisher from GB and Dubi from Hungary third.
I was thrilled to see Stuart Gibson of the UK beat the seemingly invincible Mandia of Italy before losing in the quarter final. Other highlights for me were to see a single middle aged competitor from Georgia coming out for his first international competition with the EKF’s Pekka Nurminen acting as stand-in manager and first timer Matavele of Mozambique getting two ippon and a fighting spirit prize.
There was a general consciousness this year that the most important job was done by the volunteers on the organisation team, without whom, the athletes would not have had the chance to shine. My own vote of thanks goes to the GB Team Manager, Sean Starr who left me little to do other than turn-up and referee.