The Swedish karate team is on the rise at the NC

On Easter Eve, it was time for this year’s edition of the Nordic Karate Championships. Gothenburg hosted the event this year and offered all our Nordic friends an event worth remembering.

Martial Art News had a chat with the Swedish national team management about the successful championship and how Swedish karate is doing at the moment. Above all, we wanted to find out what is being done for us to defeat our sisters and brothers down south and take home the trophy for best nation.

In the Nordic Karate Championships, a total of eight nations are fighting for the coveted medals. In addition to our own dear nation, there are also Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Sweden showed good form and strong will. It resulted in a total of twenty-nine medals, of which nine gold, seven silver and thirteen bronze. The nation’s best result at the Nordic Championships in the last decade.

– Among other things, Sweden defended their titles as Nordic champions in the ladies’ team kumite thanks to Lisa Rasmusson, Loren Zarei and Matilda Rosenlind. As well as in the men’s team thanks to Anthony Vu, Alexander Pagot and William Tran. Vu also won the gold in both the junior and senior kata. Isak Skotestad continued to be the reigning Nordic champion in kata cadets and thus Sweden secured all the golds on the men’s side in kata. In kumite, Agnes Nyman also defended her title in cadets -47 kg. Also Saresh Zarei (junior -68 kg), Alexander Giannakes (junior -55 kg) and Sophie Bao Bednarski (junior +66 kg) can now title themselves Nordic champions after strong efforts.

Gothenburg seem to know how to arrange karate championships. Just a few weeks ago, the city hosted the first ever European Kyokushin Championship on Swedish soil. Now it was time for another big championship and it doesn’t seem to have left any gloomy faces.

– Great, the organizers have put on a fantastic event that will be hard to live up to in the future! The atmosphere is always good at the Nordic Championships. Of course there is a rivalry but it is healthy and friendly. The NC is always an opportunity to strengthen and develop Nordic cooperation, so the tone is very friendly among both competitors and leaders.

Sweden finished second to Denmark in terms of total number of medals won during the championship. The goal is, of course, to take the step past our neighbors and be victorious in the future. The national team management is working to make it a reality sooner rather than later.

– Denmark does very, very good things and has had successful work at club level for several years. It has resulted in them having significantly more competing practitioners, so they should be commended for that. We now have practitioners who have gone far in several championships in a row. What we can hope for is that karate becomes more exposed as a sport outside the country and that young practitioners get more really talented practitioners to look up to. The national team’s operations are and always will be dependent on the fantastic work that is done out in the clubs. The more members the clubs have, the more talent will find their way to the national team and in this way we will eventually overtake Denmark.

Even though our neighbors get to keep the hiking trophy for one more year, the performances of the Swedish athletes still seem to have lived up to the hopes of the national team management.

– It is difficult to answer that question other than yes considering that we achieved our best NC result ever. At the same time, perhaps it belongs to sport that we still leave with a feeling that we would have liked it to have gone all the way for even more individuals. We had an unusually large turnout for this championship and the ambition is clearly to have double Swedish on the podium in several classes during the Nordic Championships.

The Nordic karate battles in Kviberg offered several fun moments that both practitioners and spectators can happily look back on in the future.

– The most fun has to be our consolidated dominance on the men’s side in kata, where for the second year in a row we took gold in all the categories offered. Then the women’s team’s effort in kumite is also hugely impressive. There we had some loss of practitioners due to illness and yet we managed to beat the Finnish team that two weeks earlier fought for the bronze at the Senior EC. Then it’s always fun to see how our young talents who are making their first championship handle the context as well as all the proud parents.

– We have several fine performances from our practitioners that are not exactly surprising, but it is impressive to see, for example, Sophie Bao Bednarski make a strong championship, as well as Alexander Giannakes. As a nation we think that Latvia impresses in many of the kumite classes, they do very well in very many cases.

Sweden has many fine podium positions in various competitions in recent times. The national team management believes that the Swedish practitioners will continue to face a pleasant future.

– As we see it, Swedish karate is on the rise. Many great performances have followed each other over the past year with our first Premier League final, championship medal at the Senior EC and most recently a medal at Serie A. The same with the Junior EC which produced three medals and the Youth League with multiple medal places. So Swedish karate is in a good place right now with many incredibly talented practitioners at a high international level.

Budo-Nord and the Swedish Karate Association, which recently entered into a partnership together, had a nice collaboration this time as well. However, the national team management would have liked to see the sport of karate given more space in the media in the future.

– We are grateful for the collaboration with Budo-Nord and all our sponsors and partners. It works very well. It would be fantastic if there was an opportunity, it is one of the absolute biggest martial arts in Sweden with many positive values. So hopefully we can continue to reap international success and thus earn a bigger place in the media landscape.

The next edition of the Nordic Championships will be arranged in Iceland.

Photographer Jeff Tran

Read about The Swedish Karate Association

Also read about The Swedish Kata Trophy that keeps going strong

Tomas Loman

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