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(Posted 26/09/05)
Orléans karate kids capture five bronze medals at
world championships

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

(L to r) Lena Rankin, Valerie Lauzon, Amanda Bentley-Desousa and Sean Rankin display the bronze medals they won at the recent World Karate Championships in Basil, Switzerland. Fred Sherwin/Photo


For a little old martial arts club on the corner of St. Joseph Blvd. and St. Jean Street in Orléans, Elite Martial Arts and Fitness is beginning to get a giant reputation for producing champions.

Since the club first opened its doors a year and a half ago, Elite martial artists have captured eight Canadian titles and won eight bronze and three silver medals at the world championships.

The club recently sent a contingent of seven competitors to the 2004 WKA World Championships in Basil, Switzerland including two time Canadian champion Amanda Bentley-Desousa, 11, from Blackburn Hamlet. They returned last week with five bronze medals in their luggage.

For Bentley-Desousa, her bronze medal in point fighting in the under 40kg class for kids 12 and under was a consolation of sorts after she finished sixth in the kata, or forms competition.

Bentley-Desousa went to Basil brimming with confidence after defeating two former world champions to win the 12 and under kata event at the Canadian Championships in March. In Switzerland she would fall victim to the luck of the draw when her name was selected to go first.

Anyone who has any experience watching gymnastics or figure skating knows that it's never a good thing to go first in a sport where the results rely solely on the subjective opinions of the judges.

After completing her patterns, which she believed she had performed every bit as well as she did at Canadians, Bentley-Desousa could only sit back and watch as the judges awarded higher marks to five other competitors. Only the top four got to advance to the medal round.

"I thought I did pretty good, but as I saw the other girl's marks I knew I wasn't going to make it into the finals," says Bentley-Desousa.

While she would never admit it, the disappointment of not making the finals had to be playing on Bentley-Desousa's mind when she stepped on the mat for her first bout in the point fighting competition.

Prior to the start of the Canadian Championships last spring, Bentley-Desousa had gained four kilograms in less than six months. Weighing 34 kilos at the time, her parents along with her instructor at Elite decided to enter her in the under 40 kg division rather than under 35 kg thinking that she would continue to grow and gain weight in the six months between the Canadians and the worlds.

As things turned out, her weight plateaued at 34 kilograms, meaning she would have to fight much larger girls at the world championships which is exactly what happened in her first bout.

The combination of having just finished sixth in kata and a larger opponent proved too much for the 11-year-old youngster. On the bright side, with only four fighters in the competition she received a bronze medal to go along with the bronze she won at last year's World Championships in Ireland.

Having to fight much taller opponents proved to be the downfall of two other Elite Martial Arts and Fitness members. Benoit Lauzon, 13, (under 45 kg) and Sebastien Boileau, 13, (under 51 kg) both lost their first round matches against much taller and older opponents in the boys 13-17 category.

Eric Lauzon won his first match in the boys 12 and under, under 35 kg weight division 11-3, but was forced to change gloves prior to the start of his second round match. Having to switch gloves in the middle of a martial arts event is like having to change skates in the middle of a figure skating competition.

Although Lauzon tried his best to get used to the new gloves, he eventually lost his second match 8-4.

Sean Rankin won his first two matches in the boys 12 and under, minus 30 kg weight division 5-4 and 6-3 before finally losing to the eventual silver medalist from Scotland 3-6 to settle for the bronze.

"His speed took me by surprise. He was pretty fast," says Rankin. "I definitely want to go back."

Sean's older sister Lena also brought home a bronze medal after finishing third in continuous fighting in the girls 12 and under, minus 45 kg weight division.

At 17, Valerie Lauzon was the veteran of the group. The part-time instructor had high hopes heading into the minus 65 kg competition after winning a bronze medal in the minus 60 kg weight division last year.

Lauzon started out well enough winning her first bout 11-1 over a girl from Scotland. Her second match was heading to extra time tied 8-8 when her opponent went for a kick to the head in the dying seconds. Lauzon thought she had successfully blocked the kick with her hands, but the two judges sitting directly behind her thought differently and awarded her opponent two points for the 10-8 win.

"The judge in front of me didn't put her arm up, but the other two judges behind me did. That's how it goes sometimes," says Lauzon who could only imagine what could have been when the girl she lost to went on to win the gold medal.

The loss was still weighing on her mind when she lost her one and only match in the team point fighting competition by one point. Each team is made up of the top three fighters from the competing country. Lauzon says she was honoured to be selected to the Canadian team which ended up finishing third giving her her second bronze medal of the meet.

All in all it was a successful competition for everyone involved, not to mention the experience of a lifetime. The karate championships were held in conjunction with the World Kickboxing Championships and attendance during the five day competition was regularly above 5,000 people.

To find out more about Elite Martial Arts and Fitness visit www.elitekarate.ca.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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