In a short time I will be off to Canada for the biggest challenge of my Tae Kwon Do career - the Junior Worlds in Burnaby, Canada. I wanted to give people a brief idea of what my journey to this point has been.
I started Tae Kwon Do as a six year old. I was chubby but like most little kids, flexible and I found I was quick to pick up the Poomsae side of things but my first couple of tournaments fighting saw me completely outclassed - I had no idea what I was doing. I thought the answer to winning fights lay in my ability to do head shots - how wrong I was!. My first tournament when I was able to do head shots was up in Auckland at the TNZ's as a cadet. I was a one shot wonder and my opponent had more shots and I was gapped. There were Four fighters in my division and I only managed a bronze medal, winning by golden point - in other words, I was lucky not to come last. Although I was upset by this result, it opened my eyes to what I had to do and I started taking part in as many of the extra training opportunities that came my way as I could, training with Alan Brian , Fraser McConnell and Nic Dorman - all people who had the coveted NZL on the back of their doboks.
The next year at the TNZ's was my first as a junior and there were 10 people in my division, and we were divided into 2 groups. Although I fought with much more variety I was still outclassed and beaten by the two Australians in my group - which should have meant that was the end of my fighting that year. But funny things can happen, and one of the people that had beaten me was injured so I got to progress to the semifinal, which I won. So that year I got a silver medal.
By now I was even more hungry for success and I had the junior world in my sights - a long term goal as they were two years away. First of all I was selected into a training squad, which usually involved 5 days or more of training camps during each holiday - and those of you who went to Master Camille's training weekend will have some idea of how hard they are. There were also the odd weekend training's as well - all in the North island and usually in Tauranga or Napier, a big drain on Mum and Dads wallets! Then there came an opportunity to go to Thailand to take part in an international training camp - two weeks of it. In our first training, I sparred against the Thailand Junior worlds representative - and once again felt completely outclassed. However, this was a really valuable training experience and I came away feeling it had been very worthwhile.
At the start of this year I also started doing specialist gym training and over the Christmas holidays we were training most days. Those who came along certainly started improving rapidly. In April this year I finally secured my spot on the team and although I didn't really think it was possible, training ratcheted up another notch. I guess what I am ultimately saying, is that I have got to where I am though single mindedness and hard work.
I would also like to publicly thank some people for helping me get here. First of all our club, Christchurch Olympic Tae Kwon Do, for the financial support of the committee and its members. A special thanks to those juniors and parents who helped out in the kitchen during the Nationals, and contributed goods for me to sell at the boot sale. Also a big thanks to those of you who come to the extra training, giving me people to spar against. And a huge thanks to Ginny and Nic, for your extra training sessions, pushing me and encouraging me all the way.
Finally a special thanks to the original junior worlds management team of Camille, Hayley and Coach Robyn - you are amazing people.
On Thursday 26th May Tom & I flew over to Gold Coast (to take advantage of a cheap airfare!). We arrived at lunchtime and traveled up to Gold Coast from the airport to our accommodation.
We spent the afternoon finding a super market to buy some supplies for the coming days. That evening the other members of the Junior World team arrived in, as they had come over from Auckland.
In the morning we met up @ 9.00am, then went down to the beach for a training session - run by Master Camille Pruckmuller - there was then a break for an hour, then did some kicking drills in an underground car park! That afternoon we went over to Harbor Town to an Outlet Shopping center, which is huge, then from there we went direct to the Carrara Stadium to weigh in. All the team weighed in OK - although the general consensus was that the scales were out by 1.5 - 2 kg...
Tom has entered in both Junior and Open divisions for -68kg, with the open divisions being held on Saturday. His 1st fight was against a 32yo from Tans (Gold Coast Club). Tom fought well winning 16-1 in 2 rounds. This put him into the final against a 22yo from Melbourne, and this guy had beaten Max Kassman (PNG Olympian). A close fight that was 3-3 end of round 1 – scoring with a headshot each. Round 2 Tom scored another headshot to go up 6-3. Then another, but was not scored (and no protest) - however his opponent went down on one knee, and was slow to get up - and consequently was disqualified - and the fight was awarded to Tom. Both the fighter and his coach were rather upset by this, but that is the rules. It appeared that he may have sustained an injury from his previous fight.
Sunday was the junior division, and first up for Tom was a fighter from Thailand - that lives in Aussie, and is hoping to gain selection for the Australian Junior Worlds team. This fight went the distance - 3 rounds with the score-line of 9-1 - this guy looked OK, but didn't really seem to get going. Next up was Tom Anderson from Auckland - and again Tom did well winning in 2 rounds with a scoreline of 13-1 The final was against Billyjack Riddell from Gold Coast - fighter that Tom lost to in Auckland 2 years ago. Tom started well with an early headshot, and dominated the fight winning 16-4 in 2 rounds. Overall winning -68 Open & -68 Junior. Other NZ fighters also winning Gold were Andrea Kilday and Robbie Pruckmuller (Robbie winning -63 Open & -63 Junior)
The Gold Coast Open has been an annual event for several years and is a very well run tournament for both colored belts and black belts. This year there was approximately 500 athletes competing in Poomsae & Kyorugi, so is the largest tournament in Australasia open to all players. There were a number of clubs from across NZ that competed, so would be great if Christchurch Olympic could work towards sending a team over.