The first event of the 2023 tournament season was the GTI English Open Championship in Cheltenham – an event that attracted competitors not only from clubs throughout England, but also from Scotland and Wales.
This well-attended tournament produced a high standard of competitive tae kwon do that was matched by a tremendous atmosphere, created by a venue full of enthusiastic spectators, many of whom had travelled down from Scotland to support a large squad of talented competitors from north of the border.
Although depleted in numbers by injury to some of their more experienced members, Farnham took a squad of 13 competitors to the event, competing in patterns, point-stop sparring and continuous sparring.
Farnham’s first medals of the day were in the patterns categories, with teenagers Lulu Oram-Tooley, Tyla Nawrattel, Zoe Lomas-Clarke and Monty Warner each winning bronze in their respective patterns categories.
Dylan Walker (14) and ten-year-old Keslyn Nawrattel both went one better, winning silver in their patterns categories.
Patterns are a technical aspect of tae kwon do; each pattern comprises a set of attacking and defensive moves set in a logical sequence to deal with multiple opponents.
Patterns are used to help improve technique, increase flexibility, master body shifting and develop muscular strength and breathing control.
The junior grade point-stop sparring saw Farnham win two more medals, with a second medal of the day, this time a bronze, for Keslyn Nawrattel, and a bronze too for nine-year-old Ankido Hussen.
Zoe Lomas-Clarke, Tyla Nawrattel and Lulu Oram-Tooley each won their second medals of the day, all winning silver in their respective senior grade continuous sparring weight/height divisions.
Lulu was stepping up a division since her gold at the British Open last year and fought three bigger opponents, only missing out on gold in extra-time in the final.
Dylan Walker, one of Farnham’s most prolific competitors, showed outstanding skills in winning the gold medal in the face of tough opposition in his senior grade continuous sparring division, adding yet another national title to his impressive tournament record.
Late in the day, and cheered on by his clubmates and supporters, Will Oxley, moving up a weight division, enhanced his reputation in black belt men over-40s sparring, battling through three testing bouts and missing out on gold by the narrowest of margins after an enthralling final that went to extra-time.
Farnham’s 13th medal of the day was a hard-earned silver that came with the bonus of invaluable experience of fighting against more experienced black belts. Other squad members who competed with credit on the day were William Cary, Freddie Porter, Finn Price-Tooth, Henry Elliott and Lewis Wilson.
Farnham School of Tae Kwon Do’s coach and chief instructor Tim Ayres-Townshend said: “The club are approaching their 13th anniversary and continue to go from strength to strength.
“I thank the parents, families and assistant coaches for their support – it’s a real team effort. We compete as a group and everyone has a part to play.
“The sense of team spirit and togetherness is probably greater than it’s been at any time in the history of the club.”