The UK National Karate Squad Southern Zone won six medals in the Barroco Cup in Italy on Sunday.

Boasting a number of training bases across East London and west Essex, the squad had been invited to Lecce as guests of honour by the Italian president of Karate after their eight-medal haul at the Caduti Di Nassirya tournament in Sardinia at the beginning of May.

A tally of six medals meant they finished third out of the 14 competing countries and some 600 competitors.

Kirsty Brierly, 36, led the way by taking gold in the kumite and silver in kata. Noufi Theodoulou, 19, took gold in the cadets middleweight.

Max Wilkinson, 18, claimed silver in the heavyweight cadet division, narrowly missing out on gold.

Marlan Anthony, 29, battled through an early injury to take silver in the middleweight men’s open division, whilst Karl Ecott, 28, put on a strong display of kata to take bronze.

Speaking after a successful weekend, coach Anthony said: “I am extremely proud of the efforts of the team as they represented the UK and their club to such a high level with great dignity and respect.

“As a result of a great performance, we have been invited to competitions across the world including Italy, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Hungary.

“The standard of karate was immense and for the UK to place third out of 14 countries having only sent five competitors is such an honour and speaks volumes.

“The squad has not been together very long and this being only our second tournament outside of the UK karate circuit and to make such an impact abroad is amazing.

“With stars like Theodoulou and Wilkinson still developing, the future of UK karate is bright and it is an exciting time for the squad.

“I cannot thank those that have supported the squad enough as without their support, we could not continue to grow and put the UK on the map. We look forward to displaying our talents both in the UK and abroad.”