ANDOVER’S Fighting Falcons proved their pedigree among the world’s top kickboxers last month as they competed in the World Association of Kickboxing Organisation’s World Championships.

The event, held in Dublin during the last week of August, brought together 1,300 talented competitors from 47 different countries.

Andover-based team Fighting Falcons spent the Sunday going through their medical checks and weigh-ins, which were then followed by a squad readiness session on the Monday before action started on the Tuesday.

Individual fighting continued over the next five days, finishing with the team finals on the Saturday.

In the female older cadet -50kg point fighting Sophie Nandan had a great start, winning a hard fight with Austrian Katharina Mixner 16- 12 to go through to Wednesday and the quarter-finals.

Here she met Kristina Nikolova from Bulgaria.

The size and experience of her opponent proved to be too much, as she lost 15-5 within the two rounds.

Nandan did a great job for her first outing at elite level and coach Gordon Mitchell has high hopes for her in 2017.

In the older cadet -47kg light contact Connor Burdock, last year’s WKU World Champion, discovered that WAKO is another level again.

Opponent Michele Benedetti, of Italy, proved too strong for Burdock, who suffered a unanimous decision loss.

In the older cadet -57kg points fighting Callum Hollinheads opened up with a 10-3 win over Patryk Banaszek from Poland to go into the quarter-finals.

His quarter-final fight was a 10 clear victory over Mexico’s Josue Aguilera Lopez, finishing 11-0 with a spectacular head kick to end the fight early.

However nerves got the better of him in the semi-finals and he lost 11-9 to Ireland’s Troy Gannon, but settled for a bronze medal.

In the junior -74kg points fighting Brandon Prince opened his account with a 13-3 win over Ireland’s Luke Kelly.

His second-round fight against Turkey’s Murat Elmas was another 10 clear early finish, 12-2.

Prince then won 15-5 over Italy’s Lorenzo Battisti to go into the semifinal, and he scored yet another 10 clear 16-6 over Germany’s Al Amin Rmadan.

In the final Prince fell behind 11-4 to Ireland’s Connor McGlinchey but produced an incredible comeback, clawing back the Irishman’s advantage point-by-point.

After taking the lead Prince landed two defensive hook kicks to the head in the dying seconds to win gold with a score of 20-17.

Although already a two time WKU World Champion this world title is his first major WAKO title, putting him at the pinnacle of the sport.

Prince was later later selected to represent Junior Team GB, beating his Hungarian opponent in the final to help his team to gold, and earn his second of the championship.

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