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Karate: Karate kids set for Euro finals; Promising Welsh youngsters target championship glory in Paris event.

EIGHT local teenagers are celebrating this week after being selected to represent Wales at Europe's premier karate event for under-21s.

The young squad will compete at the 36th Cadet and Junior European Karate Championships taking place in Paris from January 30-February 1.

TheWelsh Karate Collective's Nick Hooper, from Penarth, is the squad's only Kata competitor.

Nick, a former Kobe Osaka World Cup winner has been Wales' number one in his age group since he was a young boy.

Turning 16 at Christmas, his first step onto Europe's biggest stage will be in the under-18 category.

Michaela Foster is selected for the Under-21 +60Kg category.

Michaela, from the Mas Oyama Kyokushin Karate Organisation, is the squad's only Kyokushin fighter.

Trained in this full-contact knockdown version of Karate by WKGB Squad manager Alwyn Heath, her inclusion in the squad proves that talent, not style, is the determining factor.

Four Vale Karate youngsters - Natasha Paton 16, Rhys Davies and Elliot Evans both 15, and 14-year-old Luke Davies - all successfully negotiated the selection process to earn inclusion.

Natasha, twice a British champion with more than a dozen Welsh titles to her name, will be attending her second European Championships, following her debut in Trieste, Italy, in February.

For Rhys, Elliot and Luke, however, this will be their first step onto Europe's biggest stage.

Luke is getting his first chance to compete at the European Championships at a younger age than his team-mates, as the European and World governing bodies are introducing categories for 14 and 15 year-olds for the first time in 2009.

Barry Comprehensive School mates Rhys and Elliot, winners of the Czech and Austrian titles respectively, this year will be stepping up to the under-18 events where Rhys will contest the -75Kg and Elliot the -55Kg events.

Ogwr Karate Association fighter Sean Rees, from Bridgend, will be competing in the Under-18 -68 Kg category, while Joseph Bowden, of The Welsh Shotokan Karate Union, will make his debut for Wales in the Under-21 +78Kg event.

sport@mediawales.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

WELSH CALL-UPS: From left: Elliot Evans, Nick Hooper, Rhys Davies, Steve Wellington (national coach), Joseph Bowden, Sean Rees, Chico Mbakwe (Kata coach), Natasha Paton, Paul Scott (assistant coach), Michaela Foster
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 26, 2008
Words:368
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