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Focus: Double gold medallist Stephanie Caruso, facing forward, grapples with Christchurch fighter Ana Sarkis

By MATTHEW MCKEW

There was a serious medal haul for a Queenstown Jiu-Jitsu club last weekend, with first-timers going above and beyond expectations.

Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu coach Jose Gomes says he expected plenty of nerves and some good, but ultimately unsuccessful fights from his newbies at the NZ Grapple South Island Open in Christchurch, but they took him by surprise.

The club sent 22 players north and between them they received a whopping 18 gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze medals.

‘‘There was two modalities, gi and no gi,’’ explains Gomes.
‘‘That’s why there were more medals than people, lots of members got two.’’

Gi jiu-jitsu involves wearing traditional uniform and in the grapple, fighters can grab the other’s clothing.

But, in no gi, combatants wear shorts and a rash guard, with no shirt-pulling
allowed.

Gomes says the medal haul shows the strength of the club has not dipped over the years.

Next weekend Queenstown’s set to become a hive of activity for martial artists, with more than 300 fighters travelling from as far afield as Auckland.

Frankton’s Queenstown Events Centre will play host to the third annual King of the South Tournament.

Gomes says all are welcome to watch the free event, and it seems to get bigger and better each year.

‘‘They [entrants] love how professionally it is run … and Queenstown is a good destination.’’

Doors open at 8am, with children aged five and up competing in the morning.

Adults will then take to the mats from noon till about 4pm.

Abilities will range from beginners ‘‘just giving it a go to get that sense of adrenalin’’ to athletes who would normally be competing across the world, Gomes says.

matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz