KEIGHLEY’S Leah Moorby marked her first international appearance since returning from the Junior World Championships in Taiwan with another medal-winning performance in the Austrian International Open Championships.
She won bronze in the event at Innsbruck, home of the 1964 Winter Olympic Games and 2012 Youth Olympics. The G1 World Ranking tournament is one of the biggest events on the calendar, attracting over 1,700 competitors from across Europe.
The 14-year-old Holy Family student has moved up to the junior category, which is for 14 to 17-year-olds, and is taking the tough transition in her stride.
Due to her travel plans, Leah had to move up two weight divisions from her world medal-winning weight of minus 52kg to minus 59kg. Despite having to give away several kilos to competitors, her coach Kathy Hook felt Leah would be able to handle the higher division and was proved right as the Keighley black belt turned in four great performances.
Hook had recruited a helping hand on the coaching front in the form of current Great Britain Senior European champion Bianca Walkden, who sat in Leah’s corner for her first three bouts.
Leah’s first bout was against Ronja Syversen of Norway and it was a convincing opening round for the Keighley girl, who scored six points with her trademark double headshot to take a 6-1 lead after the first round. The second finished at 8-2 before the Norway fighter came back to score five more points but Leah remained composed and took the win 9-7.
Next up was Ana Ciuchitu, of Italy, and once again it was the Keighley girl who took the game to her opponent to build a 3-0 lead to take into the the final round, which finished 5-2.
Leah’s quarter-final was against the very tall Ioanna Dessilla, from Greece. An outstanding performance saw the British champion take the fight 9-4 and set up a semi-final match against Lea Cherbouquet of France.
Another great effort from Leah saw her come from behind three times to bring the score to within one point in the final round. Leah showed great character but her French opponent used her obvious experience to hang on, despite Leah’s barrage of kicks in the final seconds to win the bout 13-10.
Hook said: “Once again Leah has exceeded expectations. The first year in juniors is very often a tough one as you go in at the lower age bracket, which can make a big difference.
“Leah was facing older and heavier opponents but performed extremely well.”