Young instructor Connor Hall led 13 members of an Oakham martial arts club through a tough tournament at Sawtry recently.
Hall, 17, is assistant coach at Sensei Bassett’s Black Belt Academy, and is more used to preparing the club’s youngsters but at Sawtry he competed for the first time since 2007.
Despite being the youngest in the adult section, he took second place for his kata routine. And that early success inspired the juniors with Leo Davies taking gold in the U11s section.
Danny Williams, at white belt, became the club’s lowest graded member to enter a tournament and secured a superb second place.
In the 12 and over non-black belt group, the club claimed a clean sweep of podium places as Lawrence Bradbury, Jacob Worthington and Zak Ellis took first, second and third.
Head coach Josh Bassett said: “This proved to be one of the biggest tournament groups of the day and was a great achievement for the students individually and for the club. “
A new event this year was sword sparring and again the club recorded great success, with Leo grabbing his second gold of the day and Natasha Kirchin second and Jacob third.
Hall was next up, taking a blow to the nose but still winning his opening duel in the adults sparring section. He eventually took second place.
Kyle Armstrong took third in the 16-and-under black belt category while brothers Jacob and Matthew Worthington took third places - Matthew in his first tournament. Lawrence took his second first place of the day in his sparring section.
The final event of the day was board breaking with Lawrence Bradbury upping the ante in the 12-and-over group by breaking two boards with a single strike. While many tried to match him, the only students to succeed were from the Oakham club, bringing the club’s tally to 19.
Kyle, Lawrence, Jacob and Owen Henderson took first, second, and two joint third places.
Bassett added: “It was a fantastic event for us. It’s hard to pick the highlight. We took 19 medals. It’s going to be really hard to top that performance as a club.”