Martial Arts: City was the perfect place to promote sport

Edinburgh's martial arts scene stands to reap the rewards from the city's hosting of a karate and kickboxing world championship last week - in which Lothians competitors picked up 11 medals.

Senior figures in the sport believe that the Capital's embracing of such a prestigious event, which attracted 3,500 participants from more than 40 countries, can only spur on a strong local contingent to further success.

Although the strong German team caught the eye, it was a hometown youngster who posted an impressive overall performance to gain two gold medals. Natasha Walker, a former junior champion who attends karate classes at Gracemount Leisure Centre, was crowned champion in two light contact categories. Elsewhere, there were sterling performances from David Middelmass and Antony Keane, who train at Midlothian's Raptors Kickboxing Club and gained silver and bronze medals respectively.

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Other local heroes at the event included Scott Hughes and Adam Alkhated, who each won two bronze medals and Kieran Walton, Milissa Walker and Kevin Baldwin, who all took home bronzes.

Stewart Allan, President of World Kickboxing Association (Scotland), is credited as a key part of the team that secured the event for Edinburgh and believes the sport is on the up.

He said: "When I decided to make a bid to take the championships to Scotland, I contacted Glasgow and Edinburgh councils and Edinburgh was the first to show interest. David Wardrop from City of Edinburgh Council was great in helping to organise it, and the money that was generated for the city was substantial.

"I'm glad we were able to bring it to Scotland. Hopefully this will launch Scotland towards having an international kickboxing event like this on an annual basis. People are already asking when they can come back.

"We had a lot of spectators coming in and the number of inquiries we got was phenomenal. Karate and kickboxing are attractive because there are so many forms - something that suits everyone - from musical forms, to karate, to full-contact kickboxing."

The popularity was certainly evident at a busy Meadowbank Stadium, where intrigued locals mixed with stars of world martial arts. Thomas Lamm arrived in Edinburgh as 85kg World Karate Champion and, although he was to be disappointed with a runners-up medal this time round, he enjoyed the staging of the event in the Capital.

He said: "The opening ceremony at the castle was brilliant, and I love the ambience of the city.

"In general in Great Britain, people prefer the tougher forms of martial arts. If children watching the championships get into martial arts, or any sport, the self-discipline, respect and tradition can be valuable for them."