Day 10 – Day 2 of the Tournament
Well, what a day yesterday!
We tried to party last night, but lets face it, we were too dam tired and most were in bed pretty much straight after dinner. Except the female specialty team, they practiced, and practiced some more, especially the scissor kick.
What a job the coaches did yesterday, and they were still working late last night. Awesome.
Oh, and did you all see that Doug and I are famous on the ITF website! That was great to see, although no pressure, right. And thanks to those who informed me that Beck’s is Bex, I will correct myself today. Excuse the spelling and grammar mistakes, I rely solely on Bill Gates (Microsoft) to check my work. Sometimes he is right, sometimes not.
Right, to today’s events.
First up in ring 3 is the female specialty, while in the other two rings the sparring starts with the men’s lightweight, I think. But as it’s a tournament, anything could change. I have to say though, the Hondurans have done a bang up job with the tournament. There were occasionally ‘interesting’ moments yesterday, but that’s what makes each tournament stand out. The stars, the teams, the personalities, etc.
The team is quiet this morning so far, but I am sure that will change on the bus. Anyway, it’s time to leave. Today, our bus driver was in a reggae mood, with Ziggy Marley playing all the way, personally I prefer Catchafire for my Reggae, but Ziggy is ok. Kind of relaxing. The team spent some time warming up and then vacated the ring so the specialty can start.
Over in Ring 1 and 2, the microweights have started, and they are as quick as you would expect. The reffing is excellent, but nothing our reffs couldn’t match, which is great.
Siobhan is first up for specialty, she jumps for the front, touching the board but not moving it. She nails the turning kick very well, but on the side, collects the tape on the way through, so only the two points.
Melissa is next. Just a fraction off the front kick, but a huge effort. She touches the turning kick, but doesn’t move the board enough. By the way, here there are no points for touching the board, only points for completely moving it. Melissa jumps for the flying side, and makes a great break, two points.
Amy is last, she misses the front kick, but again by only a fraction. She gets the turning kick, but no, the kick is disallowed, foot is pointing up. The side kick is beautiful though, a perfect jump and break. Dan and Mark hold the boards for all the girls, and they are very happy with them, as are the team. Great work girls, so close.
The bells at the sparring rings are these little gongs, but the jury seem to be using whistles as the noise here is huge.
Wait…there is a play off in specialty for third. Yes! All the NZ girls are back in. The judges select the side kick. Yes! We are great at that. Melissa goes first, and nails it beautifully. Siobhan is next, can she repeat Melissa’s jump…No! She collects the tape on the way through. Amy is the last of the 6 girls lined up, but she also misses the flying side. Canada, Honduras, Poland, and our three NZ’ers compete. After the first round only Melissa, Canada, and Poland are left. Honduras looks like she has blown her knee, that will probably be the competition for her, and she is carried off.
The judges go for the front kick for the second round…bummer. Poland are first, they touch but not enough. Then Canada, and she nails it, almost blowing the board off the hinges. Awesome jump. Then Melissa, her warm up jump is huge, can she do it? She lines up and jumps…No, just missing, Canada are third. Melissa was so close.
The sparring starts and up first is Gary Sawyer.
Gary Sawyer is up against a Canadian. He starts well, taking charge quickly, knocks the Canadian down early, lots of head shots, Gary has the reach and soon masters the Canadian. First round to NZ. Second round is a repeat of the first, only soon the Canadian is beaten and shows it. He turns away and is warned, and again. Gary’s foot gear keeps malfunctioning, I have seen this trick before, he has used it on me as a ref before…go Gary! Canadian goes down again, gets up slower this time. Yes, lots more head kicks from NZ, now the Canadian is on the run…and the whistle goes. I think the gongs are gone (no pun intended!). And the result is in...Yes! Win to NZ.
Stu vrs Poland! Starts very well, they are the same height, Stu slips and goes down, warned, gets up, hits Poland with reverse turning then drives him out of the ring, NZ team goes wild. Comes back in, knocks Poland down again. Doing very well. End of first round. Second round, goes down hard, Dave yelling at him, encouraging him, Stu goes down hard from excessive punch, face blows up quickly, I can see it from here. Poland is fouled, Stu comes back hard, still kicking and punching, not giving ground, slips twice and is warned twice. Bout ends, I think that was very close. And the winner is…Poland, so close Stu.
Bradley vrs Argentina. Slow start from both boys, Brad punches to head strongly, Argentina comes back just a strong. Argentina is solid on his feet, not bouncing, but moves quickly. First round even I think. Second round is another slow start, Brad falls, but is ok, now lots of kicks to the back that the ref is missing on Brad, and another one, Argentina goes down, but is ok, Brad still going strong but I think Argentina is scoring more. Second round ends. And the winner is…Argentina. Another close match.
Gary vrs Slovenia. Gary again has the reach, the Slovenian is very aggressive and starts to dominate early, Gary is having to hold a lot and is warned a lot for it. Hits Slovenia hard, yes, good points. Slovenia comes back hard. End first round. Second round, Slovenia is so fast, Gary goes down hard, gets up winded, kicks and gets points back, but the Slovenian is relentless and Gary must be behind on points. End of match. Winner is Slovenia.
Bradley’s Argentinean opponent and Gary’s Slovenian are in together. At half time, the Argentinean coach goes absolutely nuts at his student, yelling in his face, pushing him, spittle flying everywhere, the NZ team watch in amazement. They are a fiery bunch, the Argentineans. I see that the Romanians have to borrow the available Top Ten gear as well, they are very strict here.
Master Bos again orders the Hondurans out of the preparation area, they just keep coming in, then suddenly announces that he has confiscated two competitors cards, and they are out of the tournament…that’s tough, but fair, he did warn them. Later on we hear that 2 adults are also banned.
Jess vrs Canada, and at the same time Bex vrs Honduras!
Jess starts strong, strikes first, then it slows for a while. Ref is very slow with his warnings, still slow, they are sizing each other up, Jess turning, good points for Jess, pushes her out, round ends. Second round starts stronger, both are going for it, Jess scores, 2 punches, kick, pushes Canada out, then takes two hits, scores with side, then slips and falls, then scores side again, then Canada scores, very even. End second round. Winner is…Draw! Jess leaps in again, but Canada is strong also, neither giving ground, Jess pushes her out, side kick, then punchs score, Jess slips again, gets up then scores with side, I think she is ahead. Round 3 ends and the winner is…JESS! Yes, win to NZ.
At the same time, Bex is all over the Honduran, although she is more aggressive, chases Bex everywhere but Bex is doing all the scoring. Excellent side kick to head completely unblocked, then does exactly same again, yes 6 points. End first round, Honduras starts fast in second, Bex punches, scores, then is warned for holding. Ref stops match, Honduras is hurt and limping, restarts and Honduras launches at Bex, she moves out of the way, scoring as she goes, match ends. And the winner is…Yes! Another to NZ. The team were ecstatic trying to watch and support two matches at the same time, but they do it by getting louder!
Bex vrs USA. Bex starts strong, is all over USA, scoring constantly, USA has no answer, very one sided, USA not good defending with her hands, Bex is scoring a lot and USA looks tired. Round two is much the same, with USA going out a lot. She is tiring and Bex is all over her. And the winner is…Bex!
The matches are coming on fast, no breaks between with the next lot all together.
Melissa vrs USA.
Melissa starts strong, as does USA. Side kick scores, as does punch, USA gets them back, Melissa is faster, but USA still scoring. Round ends. USA scores with side kicks, Melissa gets them back, Melissa still quicker, USA scores with punches, they are even. Melissa 2 punches, USA returns. It looks like to me Melissa might be ahead, but hard to say. And the winner is…Draw! Round 3 I miss a lot of it while trying to keep track of Alisa who has started. Melissa looks to be doing well. So does USA…However, USA. Wins.
Alisa vrs Canada
Alisa comes out so strong, and knocks the Canadian down straight away, she gets up and both are kicking hard, the Canadian scores, but Alisa is scoring more. Alisa goes down to a slip, gets up and keeps at the Canadian. Round ends. Alisa comes out strong again, and again the Canadian goes down in the opening seconds, Alisa is all over her and doesn’t let the Canadian score, Canadian nice reverse turning scores 3 points, Alisa gets them back with 3 punches, she must be way ahead on points. Bout ends. And the winner is…Canada! What! How the judges can award the match to Canada is a mystery and in my opinion the wrong decision, but I am just the reporter here and not in the ring.
Next is Jess against Poland!
The Polish girl is big, and tough. Jess punches after a slow start and scores, the NZ team are behind her with lots of yelling. Jess is kicked out of the ring hard, but comes straight back in. The Pole is big but a slow kicker and Jess is able to get past her faster leg speed. Round ends evenly I think. Round 2, Jess goes down straight away, the Pole is fast with her hands and hard too, but Jess is still going strong, Jess goes down again, but is up again just as quick. She punches, and scores, the Pole does the same. Jess is putting up such a good battle, but I think the Pole is stronger. Round ends. And the winner is…Draw! Both go straight at it again, both still strong, Jess steps up harder and holds nothing back, both are scoring and there seems to be nothing in it. Round ends to screaming from the NZ team, they don’t stop until the result is in…WIN! Jess beats Poland to make the semi-final!
Bex vrs USA. This is it, win this Rebecca and you are in the finals tomorrow.
Both start strong, Bex must be tired but she isn’t showing it, all that training is telling now. There is enormous support from the team, and both girls are scoring well. Hard to see the match with the team jumping around me. Round ends. Round 2, Both come out hard, but USA is tiring, her kicks are coming slower, and Bex is a machine. Yes, USA legs are just about gone, she is kicking slow, and Bex is fighting closer, punching lots as she can see that she can win this. Round ends…Winner…DRAW! They both summon all their reserves, both are kicking, USA seems to find some inner strength and starts kicking hard again, but Bex is relentless. Who will win, we think Bex, she seems to be scoring more. Then she falls, gets up again, takes the warning, both go at it again, giving everything they have. Bout ends. Who will win, the results are slow…..BEX!
What an amazing effort, she looks absolutely knackered and collapses into Mark’s arms crying with Joy, so are we.
On the bus trip back to the hotel, Dave shows us the local paper, which has Carlos’s ugly mug plastered all over the front page, along with other Haka members, and we have had a reporter following us around for a few hours, at least we think he is a reporter.
Well, that’s it for this morning, huge morning effort by the team with Jess into the semi’s and Bex tomorrow in the finals. Could this be NZ’s first gold medal in sparring?