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LAET Sam Irish up against the Army
LAET Sam Irish and her 4 Gold medals
LAET Sam Irish being presented with one of her 4 Gold’s from Rear Admiral Ben Key, FOST
LAET Sam Irish ready for combat

Four golds for Leading Air Engineering Technician

Published: 20 Aug 2014

A Leading Air Engineer Technician (LAET) from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose scooped a golden handful of Medals at the Inter Services Mixed Martial Arts Championships against strong opposition from the Army team. 

LAET Samantha Irish from 857 Naval Air Squadron was competing for only her forth year with the Royal Navy Martial Arts team at HMS Nelson inPortsmouth. Sam was presented with her clutch of Gold’s from Rear Admiral Ben Key, Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST).

 “Winning everything was fantastic, the Army opposition was pretty tough and in most cases much bigger than me,” said Sam, “but despite this size difference I really got the best of them in the sparring and that’s where the points are gained.” 

Returning recently from the Squadrons deployment on Operation Herrick in Afghanistan Sam wasted no time in getting back into full training before the Martial Arts inter services competition and joined several local Taekwondo clubs in the West Cornwall area. “Unfortunately when training you need someone to spar with, even if you're just doing pad work you need a partner to train with. Just keeping up a reasonable fitness level is quite hard on deployment. It really paid off and I felt pretty confident going into the Inter Services”, Sam added. 

Sam opted to fight in the two styles which differ slightly. ITF Taekwondo is semi contact sparring therefore allowing punching to the head. Whereas the WFT Taekwondo version is the official Olympic style which focuses heavily on kicking and sparring and is full contact. 

“In the Navy we competed in the ITF and WTF, we seem to throw ourselves in for everything! Hopefully on the back of this success it’ll be enough for me to compete with the combined services team made up of fighters from all three services and more bouts in some of the national or international competitions.” 

857 NAS and sister squadron 854 are the airborne surveillance and control fleet of Sea King Mk 7 helicopters. Together with 849 NAS who are the parent Unit of the Airborne Surveillance and Control force. The Baggers (so called because of the distinctive large bag covering the Searchwater radar on each aircraft), are the Eyes and Ears of the Fleet operate like ‘flying radar stations’ detecting enemy aircraft, ships and even vehicle movements over land.


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