The Irish Open is a prestigious tournament and this year over 4,100 athletes from countries such as America, Spain, Canada, Italy, Hungary, Turkey, Australia, Puerto Rico and many more.
The tournament kicked off on the Friday evening with Team Evolution fighters, Nesta Baxter and Kev Hunter, fighting in their continuous categories in the elimination rounds.
Kev Hunter was up first in the Men's -84kg Continuous and fought a very good Italian fighter. After a close fight, he came out second best, but with a great performance.
Nesta Baxter, aged 15, who was in the Ladies (19+) -55kg Continuous category also fought on the Friday evening in the elimination rounds. Nesta's first opponent was an Irish fighter, who she beat to progress to the next round against an Italian fighter. After beating both opponents, she qualified for the quarter-finals of her category - which were on the following day.
On Saturday, it was the day of adult continuous and adult and junior point fighting. First up on the tatami on the Saturday was Mark Baldry in the Men's Veterans +89kg Continuous category. After a great fight against a fellow British fighter, the score was 2-1 against Mark; but it was a great fight.
Next up on the tatami was Kev Hunter, in his second category of Men's -89kg Continuous. After a brilliant fight in his quarter-final against a Northern Irish fighter, he lost out on a spot in the semi-finals.
Nesta Baxter was then back up in the quarter finals of her category; which she qualified for in the previous night. In the quarter final, she fought a very good Welsh fighter called Rachel House. After a very tough fight, Nesta came out on top and was into the semi-finals against an Italian fighter, Giorgio Caputo.
The fight was very tactical for Nesta and she showed a great performance to earn her place in the final of the Ladies -55kg Continuous category, which was to be held at the Gala Night Show. This was an amazing opportunity for Nesta as she would be fighting alongside world class senior fighters.
Then, the point fighting began; starting with Chelsea Leggatt, age 16, fighting in the Junior (16-18yrs) Girls -70kg Point Fighting.
Chelsea fought a top class fighter from Belgium. She had a brilliant fight and performance; the final score being 6-4 against Chelsea. This was a great score at her first international tournament.
Then John Chambers was up in his Men's Veteran +89kg Point Fighting. He was against a strong Irish fighter but, after a close fight, the score was narrowly against John.
Nesta Baxter was then up again, but this time in her Junior (16-18yrs) Girls -55kg Point Fighting. After winning her first fight against a fellow British fighter in an excellent fight, Nesta then narrowly lost to a very good Hungarian fighter from a top class team called Kiraly with a score of 7-5.
It was then time for the Gala Night Show where Nesta would compete in the ring in the final of her Ladies continuous -55kg. The doors of the evening opened at 7.30pm and fighting kicked off at 8pm, with Nesta being the first fight on. Nesta fought against Luna Mendy, a top class senior continuous fighter. The fight was very close all the way throughout. The score ended at 2-1 to Mendy after a last second score, Nesta, however, was very proud of her silver medal at such a world class competition, especially in the Ladies category.
On Sunday it was the day of Kids Point Fighting and Grand Champion Open Weight Point Fighting. The first fighter of the day was 8 year old Riley Brocklesby, fighting in the under 9 year old point fighting category. Riley's first fight was against an Irish fighter, with whom he fought extremely well to win his fight at his first international competition.
His next fight was against a fellow British athlete after a tough fight Riley came out second best but with some great fighting experience.
Paige Stedman, age 10, was the next Team Evolution to step on the tatami at the prestigious tournament. She fought an experienced Irish fighter in the -32kg Girls Younger Cadet 10-12yrs Old Point Fighting. Unfortunately, Paige lost by two points; but, later that day, in the -37kg Younger Cadet Girls Point Fighting, Paige fought the same fighter and had a brilliant performance, beating her opposition.
In the next fight, she narrowly lost to a much taller Italian fighter who went on to win the category.
Also, on Sunday Morning was Talon Chambers age 9 who fought in the 9-10 year old category. His first fight was against an Irish fighter. Talon fought excellently to win this fight, but then fought a strong British fighter; who went on to achieve a silver medal in a section of over 50 fighters.
Zac Baldry, age 11, fought in the -42kg Younger Cadet Boys Point Fighting category. Zac fought against a very experienced British fighter. After fighting very well, he narrowly lost out in a spot in the next round.
In the Grand Champion Open Weight section, Team Evolution had fighters John Chambers, Chelsea Leggatt and Nesta Baxter. Chelsea Leggatt fought first in the Junior Girls against a very good fighter and after a brilliant fight, where she performed very well, the score was 8-6 against Chelsea. Nesta Baxter also fought in the Junior Girls against an Italian fighter and narrowly lost by one point.
In the Men's Open Weight, John Chambers fought an American fighter from the All-Star team. After John fought brilliantly against a multi-time world champion, holding his own, he came away very proud of his performance.
Overall, Team Evolution of Evolution Martial Arts had a fantastic Irish Open 2016. Although there were not every many medals, the Team had some great performances at the Team's third Irish Open and look forward to next year being even better with hopefully a bigger and stronger team at this ever growing, high-quality competition; arguably, the best in the world.
Coach Linda Baxter stated that she was very proud of all of Team Evolution and can not wait for the future as this is only the beginning for the Team.