Michelle's top of the world!
Casserly crowned WKC kickboxing champ in States
Michelle Casserly is the newly-crowned W.K.C. world kickboxing champion after a week of gruelling competitive action in Niagara Falls, U.S.A.
Michelle, who is a long-serving member of the Wexford Kung Fu and Kickboxing Centre, travelled as part of the Irish team to one of the world's most prestigious martial arts events.
It was held over six days with in excess of 1,800 competitors from as young as eight years of age up to veterans, with events including points and continuous sparring as well as open hand and weapons forms competition.
Michelle competed in three different disciplines: kung fu sets demonstrations, points sparring and continuous sparring.
Michelle dominated the ladies' Senior continuous section, culminating in her taking gold from her Nicaraguan opponent in the final.
Michelle also took a bronze medal from the ladies' points sparring section after losing out in the semi-finals in an extremely close encounter with her American opponent.
A former world champion (2017) in the ladies' continuous -55 kg. sparring, she was one of the favourites this year despite moving up a weight section to -60 kg.
Any apprehensions about moving up in weight class were quickly dismissed as she showed impressive form in the elimination rounds.
Michelle, who has an impressive international record since having first competed in the children's sections, was determined to bring home her second-ever gold medal from the world championships.
Michelle used her reach advantage over her opponent from Nicaragua and opened a considerable lead in the first round.
Despite her opponent's determined counter-attacks in the second round, Michelle held her lead until the end to emerge a clear winner.
Ecstatic with her success, she thanked her coaches - Bobby O'Neill, Pat Monahan and Mark Rowe - for their help, and her team-mate Rebecca Rowe for the many rounds of sparring and tough training sessions in the build-up to the event.
She also thanked Sinéad Rowe, whom she described as the 'mammy of the team', for all her help organising the trip to the U.S. and for co-ordinating the arrangements.
Cathal Moran had a fantastic week in the boys' Under-15 section, taking silver in both the kung fu sets competition and the continuous sparring section.
The boys' kung fu sets section was particularly competitive this year, with many Wu Shu-style competitors.
Cathal showed great focus, performing a traditional Lau Gar set infused with extra demonstration moves to take a well-deserved silver medal.
Cathal's performances throughout the elimination rounds of the continuous sparring were extremely impressive.
He had a tough final and had to settle for a silver this time around after sustaining an injury.
An experienced international competitor with a hunger for success, it is surely just a matter of time before he goes one step further to secure gold for his country.
Adam Tierney had his sights firmly focused on gold in the boys' twelve years section and, as the week progressed, you would not have bet against him achieving his goal.
Reaching the final of the continuous sparring section in impressive styl, it was an extremely close affair which many thought he should have won.
Unfortunately, the decision went to his Canadian opponent this time and Adam had to settle for silver.
Nevertheless, Adam continues to improve and he will be a favourite to take home gold in the coming years.
Nathan Casserly competed in three disciplines, narrowly missing a place in the finals of the kung fu sets.
He went on to take a bronze in both the boys' Under-14 points and continuous events medal.
Nathan is one of the club's most successful competitors over the years despite his young age, and he will be determined to advance even further for future international events.
Eoghan Dempsey was very impressive in his kung fu sets competition and was unlucky not to progress to the final four in his section.
He also just missed out on a medal placing in the points section in a very close quarter-final.
Eoghan's continuous sparring elimination rounds were very competitive, and he was widely praised for his fighting spirit and determination that took him through to the semi-finals.
A very close decision denied him a place in the final, but the best is yet to come for this determined young man who took home a well-deserved bronze medal.
Rebecca Rowe is one of the most experienced international competitors in the club.
She competed in the points sparring, continuous sparring, and kung fu sets events.
Advancing to the final four in the ladies' kung fu sets, she put in an excellent performance.
By all accounts deserving of at least a silver medal, the judges marked her down to only fourth place outside of the medals.
The Irish delegation were incensed by this decision and made an official complaint, but to no avail.
Despite the disappointment, Rebecca fought with great determination in both the ladies' points and continuous sparring sections.
Defeated by the closest of margins in the quarter-final of the points section, she went on to take a well-earned bronze in the ladies' -55 kg. continuous section.
Chief instructor Bobby O'Neill lavished praise on his team.
'The results are fantastic. This team of talented athletes give everything they have in training, there is a fantastic team spirit in the club,' he said.
'My job as a coach is made easy by their attitude.'
The former W.A.K.O. world champion added that 'the success of the club is built on many years of hard work by many people. The parents of the young club members have a huge part to play in the success of the club and, of course, everyone involved in the fundraising activities, as without their commitment this level of success would not be attainable.'
Bobby also particularly thanked Mark Rowe, Patrick Monahan and Michelle Casserly for all their help over the years. The fundraising committee would like to thank all their sponsors, including their main sponsor for the championships, Specsavers Wexford.
The club trains weekly in Image Health Studios, Westpoint Business Park, and new members of all ages are always welcome.