Small karate club generates big results at national titles

ONE of Victoria’s smallest karate clubs has four new national champions in its midst.

Camperdown Funakoshi Karate Club outshone some of its bigger rivals at the national all styles championships at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Brown-belt fighter Jill Cole was the star of the show, claiming the honours in the veteran women’s continuous sparring class with a convincing display.

The title ensured the Terang resident won back-to-back crowns after tasting success in the novice women’s continuous sparring in 2011.

Matthew Conroy (under 17), Peter Moore (male) and Ellie Blackney (female) also won gold representing Victoria in teams’ kumite events.

Cole, 41, said the successes were a credit to the small but committed club at Camperdown.

She said training, persistence and fitness were crucial to her winning the title.

“Last year I won it in the novice (section),” she said.

“I didn’t really know what to expect being the first time I had travelled that far to do something like that. 

“It was a bonus.

“I didn’t expect I’d get it this year. I was thinking if I get something, I’ll be happy.

“I train five days a week, lots of training. I train in Camperdown, Terang and Warrnambool and you’re training under different people.”

Cole picked up karate three years ago, following her children Airlee, 15, and Tobi, 12, into the sport.

She soon developed a passion and has found a niche in the continuous sparring discipline.

“My daughter has dropped out now — she’s doing dancing — but I used to sit and watch and they said ‘you should do it while you’re here’,” Cole said. 

“Now I say to my son ‘come on, let’s go’.”

Three bronze medals in other classes — two to Blackney and one to Cole — lifted the club’s medal haul at nationals to seven.

Sensei Peter Conroy said the haul was remarkable for a small club like Camperdown.

“Some of the instructors in Melbourne have clubs of 300 or 400 students,” he said.

“If you’ve got 400 students and pick your best three, you’ll have quite a high standard.

“We don’t have anything like that, but it’s a reflection of the training that’s occurring.”

Conroy said the fighters had received invitations to compete at the 2014 world championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

But he was unsure if they would accept the offer given the demands of competing overseas.

“These are all fantastic opportunities but the two things stopping anyone from doing anything are time and money,” he said.

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