Na Fianna's 'warriors' returned from the Unified World Kickboxing Championships in Italy last week to a heroes welcome from their family and friends. The Unified World Kickboxing Championships is the largest amateur Martial Arts Championship in the world and following a week of physically gruelling competition, the 12 representatives from the local kickboxing club returned with a hugely impressive medal haul.
Speaking to the Westmeath Independent on their return, their head coach and mentor Martin Ward expressed his delight at the achievement of his young warriors. "It completed surpassed my expectations. We have been travelling to the World Championships in Italy for the last four years. This year was the first year for me to travel over to the Worlds and not compete. I was there this year as the head coach and I was over the moon with the amount of success that Team Na Fianna achieved in their first major championships.
"It usually takes a couple of championships for a competitor to settle in and get use to the whole experience but this current crop of fighters took everything in their stride. They settled in very quickly and as the championship progressed it was clear that Team Na Fianna were going to bring home an number of gold, silver and bronze medals. In total we won 25 medals, 9 gold, 12 silver and 4 bronze. We're a big loyal family at Na Fianna and we all supported each other.
"The guys have been working really hard collectively and on their own over the last three months. All their attention and focus was geared towards the World Championship. We had 12 competitors and the 12 of them all returned with a medals. I was very proud of each and everyone of them.
"Some of the group were as young as eight years of age and the way they dealt with the whole atmosphere was amazing.
"They all pushed their bodies to the limits and they proved to themselves that they could compete on the world's biggest stage against the best kickboxers in the world."