Viking Cup 2012 Report
On the 31st March to 1st April 2012, 400 competitors from 17 countries took part in this year's edition of Viking Cup 2012. There were all the way from far away countries: Argentina, Canada and Australia! Ireland was represented by 7 national competitors, as a warm up event, gearing towards the European Championship in Slovenia: Mr. Darren Smith IV Dan, Mr. Hong Looi IV Dan, Ms. Sabina Mason III Dan, Mr. Stephen Smullen III Dan, Mr. Shane O'Rourke II Dan, Mr. Luke Laffan II Dan and Ms. Chloe Aboud II Dan.
We arrived on the Thursday 29th March early afternoon due to a change in Ryan Air flights schedule. We rented a van and drove for 3 hours towards Skovde. On the afternoon of Friday 30th March, all 7 of us weighed in with no problem. We managed to get an hour training session in the gymnasium beside the competition hall that evening to loosen up.
On the Saturday morning 31 March Day 1, Mr. Looi, Ms. Mason, Mr. Smullen, Mr. Laffan and Ms. Aboud were all up for patterns. In the top-level senior male patterns, under IV-VI Dan category, Mr. Looi beat Sweden Markus Känngård in the semi-finals, before narrowly losing to Norway Andreas Jenstad in the final. In the III Dan, Mr. Smullen and in the II Dan, Mr. Laffan, both narrowly lost to the eventual winner of their respective categories in the quarterfinals. In the top-level female patterns III Dan, Ms. Mason, also narrowly lost to the eventual winner in her preliminary round. In the top-level junior female patterns II Dan, Ms. Aboud came out as a winner in her category.
That afternoon, the sparring event commenced for all categories, except for top-level senior male and female, which took place on Sunday 1st April. All matches in the sparring event used the pool-system with one round of 2 minutes, so fortunately all competitors were guaranteed more than just one fight even if we had a bad first round. In the black belt division the pool matches had two rounds of 1.5 minutes. Under -55kg category, Ms. Aboud had 4 fights, however, she lost one of her bouts by one flag in the pool, putting her in 2nd position with the 1st position going to Poland. The top two met again in the final, however, Ms. Aboud had a change of tactics and strategy with coach Ms. Mason, this time overcoming and beating her Polish opponent unanimously - Gold to Ms. Aboud. At the end of day 1, Ireland came out with 2 gold and 1 silver medals.
On the Sunday 1st April Day 2, was sparring for top level senior male and female. Mr. Looi was first up for under -71kg category in the morning. He had 4 fights in his pool, with 3 wins and 1 draw with coach Ms. Mason. He was tied with another competitor from Poland, however, due to a flag difference in the total flag count in the pool system, Mr. Looi was put in 2nd position, and the Polish competitor was in 1st position. Mr. Looi had to spar the winner from another pool - ahead 2 flags and 2 draws with seconds to spare, there was an attempt of a high reverse hook kick from the opponent to Mr. Looi's hand pads, with the opponent falling on to the ground, and the score changed with 2 judges awarding 3 points, turning the scoreboard with 2 flags and 2 draws, giving the opponent the win. Very unlucky for Mr. Looi, despite not getting the result he deserved as you do in some competition, there were fortunately a silver lining to take away from the video footages to gear towards the European Championship gold medal.
The remaining competitors sparred on Sunday midday, Mr. Smith, Ms. Mason, Mr. Smullen and Mr. O'Rourke, whom all competed in sparring at the same time. Mr. Looi was busy coaching from 4 different rings all 4 competitors, while Mr. Laffan and Ms. Aboud were warming up the guys, getting them ready.
Under -80kg male category, there were 3 pool systems, which meant that the top two from each pool, totaling 6 players, go into another 2 pool systems of 3 per pool. Mr. Smith had 3 fights in his pool, with all 3 wins, putting him 1st in the pool system. In another pool, Mr. Smullen had some unfortunate decision against him in a couple bouts, and did not manage to qualify in his pool. Mr. Smith had a couple of unfair decisions in his new pool, but he managed to clinch a draw in both of his fights, putting him 2nd. He beat the winner from the other pool, advancing to the final.
Under -63kg female category, Ms. Mason had 3 fights, with 2 wins and a narrow loss, putting her 2nd in her pool and thus advancing to the evening final gala.
Under +80kg male category, Mr. O'Rourke had 3 fights in his pool. He had a shaky start in his 1st bout, but managed to beat a much bigger lad on the 2nd bout, and an unfortunate loss in the 3rd bout meant that he did not qualify out of his pool.
At the end of the competition, there was a final gala with the sparring finals from the top-level senior male and female black belts. Ireland was represented by, Mr. Smith and Ms. Mason. Both players narrowly lost in their respective final by 1 corner judge difference. Very unfortunately, but this is a great warm up for both players in their route towards their European Championship gold medals. 2 more silver medals to Ireland! At the end of Day 2, Ireland came out with 2 gold and 3 silver medals in the medal tally, putting Ireland at no. 6 out of 17 countries, which is a fantastic result considering we only brought 7 players.
A massive praise to Mr. Smith, Mr. Looi, Ms. Mason, Mr. Smullen, Mr. O'Rourke, Mr. Laffan and Ms. Aboud for their superb performances and great attitudes in this tournament. Collectively all competitors showed great enthusiasm, good heart and high level of skill. A very successful and rewarding pre-season competition.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Master Swavek and Mrs Petra Dydiszko for their great hospitality to the Ireland team.
Report by Sabina Mason III Dan & Hong Looi IV DanPosted by Stephen Ryan