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Bob Monette

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(Updated 25/05/05)
Orléans dojo captures five gold medals at national karate championships

By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Clockwise from front Alexi Crane, Amanda Bentley-Desousa, Rebecca Shaffer, Vickie Brunet and Helen Medhin all won gold at the Canadian Karate Championships in Gatineau on the weekend. Fred Sherwin/Photo


The Elite Karate Club in Orléans continues to build on its reputation for producing national champions after five of its members won gold medals at the Canadian Karate Championships in Gatineau on the weekend.

All five teammates will spend the next five months preparing for the WKA World Amateur Championships to be held in Niagara Falls during the second week of November, along with six other club members who managed to qualify by finishing in the top five in their division.

Sixteen-year-old Vickie Brunet will be returning to the world championships after a one year absence. In 2003, in Dublin, Ireland she won a bronze medal in points sparring. This time around she'll be competing in continuous fighting after beating out two other girls for the Canadian title in the under 63kg weight division on Friday.

"I'm very proud. Continuous is what I was focusing on," said Brunet who was forced to miss last year's competition after contracting mononucleosis.

But while Brunet is returning to the world stage after a one year absence, teammate Helen Medhin, 13, will be competing for the first time in four years. During her last trip to the world championships in 2001, she won a gold medal in points sparring in the 30 kg and under weight class. This time around she'll be competing in the 45 kg and under weight division.

"It's awesome," said Medhin when asked what it felt like to be heading back to the world championships. "I was a little nervous at first, but when I started fighting it felt like 2001 again."

To win her weight division, Medhin had to defeat two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old, as well as her 12-year-old teammate Kaitlyn Judge who ended up finishing fourth despite being the youngest competitor in the category.

Amanda Bentley-Desousa is the only member of the gold medal group who will be going to the world championships as a defending national champion.

The 12-year-old successfully defended her title in the 12 and under kata, or forms event. She was also awarded first place in continuous fighting by default and finished third in points sparring in the 45kg and under weight division even though she only weighs 39 kilograms and was competing against girls much bigger than herself.

Twelve-year-old Rebecca Shaffer is the newby of the group. Competing for the first time at a major event, she won gold in both continuous fighting and points sparring in the 12 and under, 45 kg and over division. The youngster credits training with adults for her meteoric rise to the top.

"I got a lot of experience fighting in smaller tournaments and training with the adults really helped," said the Emily Carr Middle School student who is looking forward to competing in her first World Championship. "I'm very excited."

Finally, eight-year-old Alexi Crane improved on her third place finish a year ago by outperforming girls three and four years her senior in the 12 and under age group in points sparring.

Other Elite Karate members who earned a ticket to the World Championships include: Valérie Lauzon, third in kata (adult); Eric Lauzon, third in points sparring (12 and under, - 45kg); Sebastien Beaulieu, third in continuous fighting; and Sean Sweeney, fifth in points sparring (adult men, +81 kg).

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

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