New European Kickboxing Champion - Nesta Baxter

This morning at 4am our Acorn Taxi picked us up ready to take us to London Luton Airport where we met with the WAKO Team Great Britain. This year there is a total of 88 Junior, Older Cadet and Younger Cadet fighters who will be representing Team GB. At 8.55am our flight to Skopje which is the capital of Macedonia left London Luton Airport which took us on a just under 3 hour flight before arriving in Macedonia. Upon arriving in Skopje we made our way to check into our hotel before going to Hotel Capialita where I made my weight class of -60kg and had my medical check up to be fit to fight. I am now looking forward to a rest day and training tomorrow ahead of the fighting starting on Tuesday.

Monday 4th September,
Today we had a light training session with WAKO Team GB, the session was focused on making sure we were loose, relaxed and ready for competition tomorrow! The session took place outside not far from our hotel which we quickly realised was in the heart of the beautiful capital of Skopje. After the training session I had a day of relaxing whilst ensuring I was fuelled up for fighting, we explored some of the city before heading back to hotel ahead of the first Team GB Official Meeting. During the first Official Meeting we discussed the teams plan of action for the week ahead as well as running orders. I then settled for an early night in bed before the competition begins.

I woke up early this morning to check my times and my fights for the day. My first fight was at 13.50 against Emma Linic, a Croatian in my Point Fighting division, today I also had a Kick Light Fight against another Croatian, Sladana Rajcevic both fights of which were in the preliminary rounds. I was also lucky enough to draw a by into the next round of my Light Continuous category. I beat both Croatians in my Point Fighting and Kick Light to put myself into the Quarter Finals, my Point Fighting Quarter Final against Alicia Osmanovic, a German then took place later this evening. The fight against the German was close but with a good strategy I was able to beat the German to book myself a place in the Semi Finals.

Wednesday 6th September, 
Today I had the Quarter Finals of both my Kick Light and Light Continuous. Firstly I had my Quarter Final in my Kick Light against Francesca Oliverio from Italy, the fight was well fought but after the three rounds I bet the Italian with a unanimous score once again. This put me through to my second semi final of the European Championships. I was the last fight of the day in my Light Continuous I was against the same Croatian fighter who I fought yesterday in my Point Fighting, Emma Linic. The fight finished on a unanimous decision to myself but was a well deserved win after a challenging fight. This put me through to my third semi final meaning that I had already achieved 3 medals out of my 3 styles, something I was already very proud of. 

Thursday 7th September 
Today was the day of my Semi Finals in which I had in all three of my divisions. First of all was my Kick Light Semi Final where I drew a Hungarian fighter, Csenge Pallag, I had a phenomenal performance that booked me a place in the final an achievement I was proud of considering that this was the first European Championship in this style of fighting. Next was the Semi Final of my Light Continuous where I fought against Gaia Vistenin from Italy who is one of the top fighters in the -60kg division. The Semi Final of my Light Continuous was a very close fight with decision switching either way all of the time between me and the Italian however after a strong finish I came out on top booking myself a second final of the European Championships. My third semi final of the day was in my Point Fighting division against the currently ranked World number 1, Gaia Vistenin who I had just beaten in my Light Continuous division. The fight was very intense with Vistenin taking an early lead, however in the final round I brought the score back to an even 8-8 but it was Vistenin who scored the last points in the last thirty seconds to take the victory. However I am very pleased with my performance and to have achieved a bronze medal position along with two finals! 

Friday 8th September 
I woke up this morning feeling great with my final in my Light Continuous today at just past midday. Upon arriving at the arena I headed straight to the Warm Up area to get myself in the zone and prepared for my fight. It felt like forever waiting for my final, I just wanted to fight! When the time arrived I felt more ready than ever before. I stepped on the Tatami against Korina Zugan from Croatia with the whole of the Great Britain Team chanting my name. The fight couldn't have gone any better, I executed the perfect game plan and when the final ring on the final round rung I had won the WAKO Junior European Champion Title with a unanimous decision. I honestly can't describe the feeling I felt, it was a mixture of joy, excitement, thankfulness and relief. Later on today it was my award ceremony where I was crowned European Champion, with our Great Britain National Anthem playing I felt very proud and felt as if all of my hard work had payed off. 

Saturday 9th September 
Today was the day of my second final of the Junior European Championships were I competed in my Kick Light division against Nicole Carassiti from Italy. My fight was one of the first of the day. I had a great fight but it wasn't to be as Carassiti took the lead with some strong kicks and the fight finishing on a split decision to the Italian. Although slightly disappointed to not get the win, I felt tremendously proud of my result considering this is my first time competing in this style at European level coming away with a silver. 

Sunday 10th September 
An early start this morning being up at 3am ready to catch the early morning flight back home. Whilst on the flight I have had time to reflect on the amazing week that I've had at the WAKO Junior and Cadet European Kickboxing Championships 2017 in Skopje, Macedonia. So proud of myself having retained my European Kickboxing Title this time in Junior (16-18yrs) Girls Light Continuous -60kg along with Vice European Champion and Bronze. Coming home with Gold, Silver and Bronze is my best ever World or European Championships in Kickboxing so far and I'm already looking forward to the busy year ahead in my sporting career. This year has been special also as I had the honour of being the Junior Girls Captain for Team GB supporting the other GB members through their wins and loses. Also after my win at the European Championships I am now ranked World Number 1 in Junior Girls (16-18yrs) -60kg Light Continuous. I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have supported me over the years to help me get to this level and achieving European Champion. First of all I'd like to thank my coaches and teammates at Evolution Martial Arts, my Mum and Dad for all of their input, advice, extra hours of work and believing in me every step of the way. Next I'd like to thank WAKO Team GB, the President, Head Coach, Coaches and other team members. Finally I'd like to thank LEAP (Lincolnshire Elite Athlete Programme), Fogarty Quits and Pillows Limited, Leg Up, POOBI and anyone who has helped me for their continued support in allowing me to get here and chase my dreams. 

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