Belfast Telegraph

Brunton and Ryan rule Europe

By Ali Gordon

Confidence is high for two members of Belfast's NIKW gym after they scooped an impressive four international karate titles in the space of just two weekends ahead of this month's Northern Ireland Open Karate Championships at Queens Physical Education Centre.

1,500 of Europe's best fighters gathered in Berlin last month for the Banzai Cup where current British 4 Nations champion James Brunton from Belfast triumphed over Norway's top fighter in the Men's Open weight section. Brunton also managed to secure a bronze medal in his own weight division.

He said: "I've been pretty pleased with my performances and I did very well in the Banzai Cup which was good, but I've been training a lot recently so it's just good that it's paying off.

"The Belfast City Council have given me some help with funding and that's what allowed me to get away to Germany. It's great to have their support because it can be an expensive sport and you travel about a lot so everything is going to plan at the moment."

Just a week after his successes in Berlin, Brunton was joined by fellow NIKW member Craig Ryan at the British Open, where the pair lifted another two titles for their club.

17 year-old Ryan from Lisburn admits that winning the title came as a bit of a shock.

"In my weight category, there were four rounds and I managed to win all four of them.

"The first guy was from France, the second guy I fought was from England and then the last two were from France. They were all good fighters but the last one, Jonathan Gilmore, was definitely the hardest.

"He was pretty good but, to be honest, I wasn't expecting to win it so it was even better to actually get the title," revealed Ryan.

The pressure is now on for the karate aces at the Northern Ireland Open Karate Championships on November 16 as they try to emulate their recent successes in front of friends and family in Belfast.

Brunton said: "I've had a busy few weeks so it's nice to be competing at home. I'm confident that I can go and do well but there is a bit of expectation. I've kind of dominated the competition over the last few years so I'm hoping that this year I can do the same.

"It will be hard and there are always some good fighters but I'm looking forward to it."

Ryan added: "I'm feeling pretty confident about the competition now. There are a few boys from my club who will be there and I'll probably end up fighting with them but I'm not really that worried about it."

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