two women hold karate trophies after fighting
(l to r) Hayley-Beth Rowlands and Morgan Mates

Two members of Cwmbran Kyokushin Karate club fought for Great Britain at the IFK European Kyokushin Karate Championships in Armenia last weekend.

Morgan Mates, 14, and Hayley-Beth Rowlands, 27, travelled to Yerevan to compete in the full-contact tournament. Morgan entered the under-16s girls’ over 55kg category and Hayley entered the women’s under 55kg category. 

The pair prepared for three months to be ready to fight world-class opponents.

three woman on a podium holding karate trophies
Morgan Mates on the podium with her trophy for coming second

It was Morgan’s first debut at this level but her coach and Cwmbran Karate’s Chief Instructor, Jaime-May Rowlands, was confident she would perform well after witnessing her pushing herself constantly in training.

She came out on top in the early rounds and made it to the final where she lost a tough fight against the tournament and hometown favorite, Elen Grigoryan. Morgan was the highest-placed member of the under-18 GB team

Hayley-Beth, a three-time European champion, has competed at this level for many years. Her final was unusual as she was up against GB teammate Olivia Pickthall. After three rounds, Hayley-Beth was announced the winner and became a four-time European champion as a senior fighter.

three woman on a podium holding karate trophies
Hayley-Beth Rowlands on the podium with her trophy for winning