Medal for martial arts star Niamh at Vilnius contest
A MACROOM girl has won bronze at the international tournament of a little-known martial art.
Last week, seven Judo players from Ireland travelled to Vilnius, Lithuania to take part in the 7th International Prancikus Eigminas Memorial SAMBO Tournament, including Niamh Looney of the Muskerry Judo Club, who earned a bronze medal in the 56Kg category, despite only weighing 48Kgs herself.
Niamh's efforts also saw her walk away with the "competitor of the tournament" trophy.
Among the participating nations were Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Russia, Latvia and Lithuania with Ireland and Austria both being represented for the first time.
A martial art developed in Russia in the 1920's, "SAMBO" is an acronym for Samozashchita Bez Oruzhiya, which literally translates as "self-defense without weapons."
The style of fighting is very similar to judo, allowing participants of the more popular style to compete in it – including Muskerry Judo Club members who made up five of the seven-strong Irish team.
The Cork contingent in the team were Ronan Manning, Dean Looney, Niamh Looney, Tyrone Murphy and Ryan Hartnett, who were coached by Seamus Manning.
"Each category was very full, with between 15 and 20 players per weight class. All our competitors won fights throughout the day, but it was the subtle differences in rules from Judo to Sambo that caught the Cork fighters in most cases.
"When the pressure is on, old habits kick in and Judo tactics were used when sometimes the opposite was required," Coach Manning said.
Following on from their international success, Muskerry Judo Club has now added Sambo as a regular fixture to its range of classes at St. Coleman's in Macroom making them one of only two clubs in Cork teaching the art - the other being Cork Combat Sambo based in Blarney Street coached by Anton "the Russian Bear" and Shane Long.
You can find out more about both clubs on Facebook.