The 16th Oceania Championships was held in Suva, Fiji from 11-13 September. The weather was fabulous and the Vodaphone Arena has it’s end stadium doors open to allow a welcome breeze to inhabit the venue. The Fijian hospitality and spirit was evident in all aspects of the event. The opening ceremony, starting beautifully formal with addresses by the Oceania President Makarita Lenoa, WKF President Antonio Espinos and the Fijian Minister for Sport was followed by an impromptu haka by the New Zealanders, overlapped by the cibi by the Fijians and followed by boisterous chants from the Papua New Guinea and New Caledonian teams. The festival of karate had begun.
And Ishinryu from Australia was well represented.
Sensei Tony Hails was the mentor coach to the very successful host country. Fiji contested 11 finals, winning four titles. He was on the line for many successes and proudly observed his team of coaches developing their skills on the line. An excellent result from the established and emerging athletes in preparation for their assault on the Pacific Games in July 2015.
Sensei Alison Peachey was upgraded to Oceania Kumite Judge A and Kata Judge B. The examination process consisted of seminars, written and practical exams and the practical judging whilst being assessed by 3 independent WKF referees.
Sempai James Walker had excellent wins to take him to the final of the -70kg cadet kumite. He met a very capable New Zealander in the final and came away with the silver medal. A fine effort. He later teamed up with other cadet’s in their team event and won gold. Well done Australia!
Sempai Anthony Johnston from Victoria also competed in kumite and won bronze in the 12-13 +55kg. Well done, Anthony!
A surprise highlight of the event was the presence of the World Karate Federation President Antonio Espinos. This was a great honour for the championships and he commented on now realising how the Oceania athletes feel when travelling to Europe to compete (i.e. it is a very long way!). We witnessed his welcome to Fiji by the local chiefs at a kava ceremony and Sensei Tony and Alison had the honour of dinner with him (and others!) before the event commenced.
The Sayonara party had a 10pm start, a result of the competition not finishing until well into the evening. And it was worth the wait! Fabulous food, wonderful hosts, the meke performed by many of the Fijian men’s kumite team and wonderful happy dancing. A fitting finale to a fabulous event.