The Navan Kenpo European medal winners.

Karate kids prove a big hit at European Championships

Thirteen young athletes from the Navan Kenpo Karate Academy travelled to Rome recently for the IKKA European Championships - and took home eight gold, three silver and six bronze medals.

The youngsters aged between seven and 18 were accompanied by their instructor, Niamh Byrne, who also took home a gold medal in the continuous sparring event.

Among the winners were Caoimhe Byrne who took gold in her forms division, gold in sparring and bronze in team sparring, Joseph Green who took gold in his sparring division and Liam McEniff who won gold in his forms division.

Arthur Power won gold in team forms and bronze in individual sparring, while Daire Lenihan took gold in team forms and bronze in individual forms, while Seamus Dowling won gold for individual sparring.

John Green took bronze in individual sparring, Ted Kearney, Mark O'Flynn and Joey Burke won silver for team sparring.

Alannah Burke won bronze for team sparring and individual sparring, while Charia Santoro and Lucca Power both took bronze for team sparring.

"I am very proud of them all and one of the highlights of the trip was the way it brought them all closer together like family. For a lot of them, it was their first time competing," says Niamh.

The Academy will be sending a team to an international competition in California in September and next year's European Championships in Gloucestershire next October.

Niamh said they all worked very hard to achieve their medals.

"They were training for two to three hours, three times a week in the run up to the competitions and sometimes they also trained an additional day on a Sunday."

The Academy is based at Navan O'Mahony's and was set up by Niamh in 2014.

Niamh has been involved in Kenpo since she was four years old and began teaching when she was just 13.

The Mayor of Navan, Cllr Eddie Fennessy has congratulated the group. "What an achievement this is. To travel abroad and compete is a great experience for the children. To take back such a significant medal haul, is incredible. They are great ambassadors for our town and the local community.

"As the Mayor I congratulate each and every one of the children. The people of Navan are very proud of you. Keep up the good work a chairde," he said.