The official national training camp for Team Ireland was once again held in the spacious Citywest suite in Citywest Hotel on the weekend of 27th-28th July. The 2019 weekend camp was funded, for the first time, by Sport Ireland.

The two day camp, organised by KBI was open to all national champions in every discipline and across all official WAKO age divisions, from Peewees to Masters. The camp saw 12 fully matted tatamis and 1 ring in action at all times, allowing all disciplines train concurrently which meant there was great excitement and energy throughout the weekend.

All the respective national coaches were on hand to assess the current progress of the junior and senior national champions who will represent club and country in their upcoming championships.

The cadet and junior squad will travel in less than four weeks to the WAKO European Championships which will be held in Gyor, Hungary.

The senior team will be split in to two separate world championships according to their disciplines. K1 and light continuous/kick light will becontested in Bosnia at the end of October while musical forms, full contact and point fighting will have their WAKO world championships held in Turkey at the end of November.

Behind the scenes, the two day event was masterfully organised by Elaine Small who also directed the points fighting sessions along with Martin Bannon.

The point fighting squad were in for a real treat when KBI & WAKO IF President Roy Baker was on hand to take one of the allocated schedules. Mr Baker is the first elite kickboxer to come out of Ireland and the first Irish multi World and European kickboxing champion, dominating the world circuit for over two decades. President Baker is now one of the leading figures in the sport on a global level and was instrumental in achieving Olympic recognition for WAKO kickboxing.

The point fighting team also had Robbie McMenamy and Mark McDemott as surprise guest coaches.

The ring sport disciplines was led by national coach Joe Hagan. Joe is now working with a strong junior and senior squad getting in ring shape in time for the championships. As well as working with their national coach, the ring sports team were treated to sessions with Pierce Mc Geough and Damien Darker.

Newly appointed light continuous and kick light national coach Des Leonard took his squad of junior and senior fighters for an intensive two days of schooling and sparring routines. Ian Kingston, coach of multiple WAKO World and European champions was available on day two to add his valuable knowledge and expertise.

Forms national coach Jessica Grant was happy with how her junior competitors are progressing and is confident they will be peaking at the right moment in four weeks at the European Championships. Jessica was aided by Kevin O’Sullivan during the camp.

This year, the official Irish National Team that will travel to the WAKO European Championships for Cadets & Juniors is one of the biggest in over 5 years when over 200 athletes, coaches, support staff and parents will converge on the small town of Gyor, Hungary for over a week.

Photos courtesy of Liz White