24.11.2022 / UK Open 2022
Sonkal in the British Isles
In 2019 we went to the competitions in Scotland for the first time, which were organized by the United Kingdom Taekwon-Do Association. We really liked the competitions then - friendly atmosphere, solid organization and interesting opponents. The following three years we had to postpone our participation because of Covid 19. This year it finally worked out and our choice fell on the UK Open, which is held regularly in November in the town of Guilford. This town of 100,000 is located southwest of London. It is worth mentioning the actual sports centre where the races were held, because the average visitor could find a sports hall, smaller gyms, a water park and also an ice rink for hockey and figure skating.
The preparation of the whole trip went back to the beginning of September, when we started to tune the participants and although we tried to book the flights and accommodation in advance, we found that in the case of the hotel recommended by the organizer it was too late anyway... However, with the squeak of a credit card, even that was successful.
Our English trip started on Friday, November 4 at Prague's Václav Havel Airport. Upon arrival we had to tune where the arranged minibus was waiting for us, for which we thank the organizers once again. While communicating with the driver we hit a language wall, because the differences in language interpretation are very different in the British Isles :-D Oh well, one learns throughout life.
Upon arrival at the Mandolay hotel we had to outwit the British official shimmy and then followed the accommodation and also the weigh-in. Všichni prošli váhou bez problému a mohli jsme se vydat na průzkum centra Guilfordu a naplnění trávícího traktu... Bohužel díky cenovým relacím v Anglii se naším dodavatelem stravy stal vynuceně místní McDonald.
V sobotu ráno jsme se pěšky vydali do cca 1 kilometr vzdálené haly, kde v 9 hodin měla začít soutěž černých pásků podle standardu A-Class. Bohužel díky nasazení nového systému bodování iScore se začátek zpozdil o cca 2 hodiny, ale poté se soutěž rozběhla a naši členové ukazovali svou kvalitu. V sestavách byla naší nejhorší medailí stříbrná Kuby Komárka, který podlehl ve finále Ondrovi Faltinovi :-D Sportovní boj přinesl další cenné medaile jak v juniorech, tak seniorech, a především cenné závodní zkušenosti. Pohled do online výsledků byl velmi příjemný - Sonkal v pořadí oddílů byl na prvním místě!
Po celkem pozdním konci soutěže jsme se vydali zpět do hotelu a rychle do Mekáče, kde na nás čekalo nezvyklé a zároveň nemilé překvapení - část k sezení se kolem 19.30 zavírá. So we had no choice but to buy takeaway and eat everything in a nearby area for free.
Sunday morning greeted us with heavy rain and we welcomed a minibus ride to the hall. The second day of competition belonged to the colour bands in all age groups (the under 14 red bands competed on Saturday). Here again we had several irons in the fire who turned their starts into valuable metals. Interesting is the system of sport fight for the colored belts - they compete together according to height, and for the older ones according to weight, always given colors of belts together. Thus, for example, the yellow ones have their fun sparring, then the green, blue and red ones. So competitors of very similar development, ability and skill meet together. The fights are much more evenly matched. We capped off Sunday, unfortunately, with a sit down meal at McDonald's.
Monday we set aside for a trip to London itself. The transfer was comfortably by train and the hour-long ride offered us the English countryside and a glimpse of various towns and villages. Po vystoupení na Victoria station se průvodcovské role ujala Šárka Třísková, která přidala ke každé pamětihodnosti zajímavá historická fakta a informace. Naše návštěva čítala - Westminster, Big Ben, Buckinghamský palác, náměstí Trafalgar, prošli jsme kolem Toweru a zakončili vše u Tower Bridge. Abychom si cestu zrychlili a hlavně zkrátili, tak jsme přidali cestování londýnským metrem, což byl sám o sobě velký zážitek. After all, the London Underground is the oldest in the world and its system is very complicated. Well, golden Prague underground :-)
The last part of the trip was about the train journey back to Guilford, where we had the treachery of changing trains on the way. We can change trains, but we can't cram 14 expedition members into a crowded train. So we put in an hour's wait for the next connection at Clapham Junction station. The second connection was already emptier and after 20 minutes of travel we were all able to sit down.
Tuesday was reserved for travelling back to the Czech Republic. First, a few minutes train ride from the hotel to the main station in Guilford. And again, the stress of the transfer when the train arrived late and the original 8 minutes for the transfer was reduced to four minutes. The accelerated transfer with the train search worked and we were able to enjoy the English countryside again. One more transfer followed to get us to Gatwick airport. Here we had plenty of time, but I have to say that the level of service there is tragic. Practically only one expensive restaurant and no fast food before check-in. A sandwich snack drove away our hunger and after check-in we filled our stomachs with burritos. We arrived in Prague twenty minutes early and were able to head off to our homes with a tremendous experience.