Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Jamaica girls no powderpuffs at US Open

Published:Monday | July 18, 2016 | 7:00 AMAinsley Walters
Jamaica'’s Sheckema Cunningham (black gear) lands a kick to her Argentine opponent during one of her continuous-sparring bouts at the International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) US Open World Martial Arts Championships in Orlando, Florida. Cunningham won continuous and clash-sparring gold at the Open.
Jamaica’'s Subrina Richards (left) forces back her opponent with a kick during a continuous-sparring bout at the International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) US Open World Martial Arts Championships in Orlando, Florida. Richards won continuous and clash-sparring gold at the Open.
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It was 'Go Jamaica, Go Jamaica' in the three female black belt lightweight divisions at the July 7-9 International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) US Open World Martial Arts Championships in Orlando, Florida.

The female lightweights contributed significantly to Jamaica's record haul, winning five of 34 gold medals in addition to two silver and two bronze. Led by Sheckema Cunningham and Subrina Richards, they completed a near all-Jamaica sweep of three weight divisions spread over three styles of fighting - continuous, points and clash sparring. "It feels good to know you can go out there with kids way younger than you are but, trust me, it's not easy," said Cunningham, a 31-year-old veteran from Future Leaders Karate, pointing out that she was out of competition since winning gold at last year's International Sport Kickboxing Association (ISKA) Amateur World Championships in Germany.

Fighting at -129lb and making her return to individual competition at the US Open, Cunningham won gold medals in continuous and clash sparring. Richards, 19, not only equalled Cunningham by winning points and clash-sparring gold, 140-149lb, but completed a US Open 'double-double' after a similar in a lighter weight division last year.

"It's really great, being a female and accomplishing all of this," said Richards, pointing out that she has now completed a "double-double- double", having also won two gold medals at the May 18-22 ISKA Amateur World Championships in Stuttgart.

"I think it alerts other females that they can do just as well or even better," she added.

Jamaica completed a clash-sparring sweep in the three lightweight divisions as Ultimate Taekwon-Do's Aneeke Brown won gold in 130-139lb. She also won a points-sparring bronze.

The island's other two lightweights were also among the medals as Ultimate Taekwon-Do's Jasmine Barrows was beaten by teammate Brown in the 130-139lb clash-sparring final but bettered her to win silver in points sparring.

Rising Sun Karate's Marissa Jones, beaten in the first round of continuous sparring, picked up her game to win bronze in -129lb clash sparring, losing to Jamaican teammate Cunningham in semi-final action.

- Gold - Subrina Richards, 140-149lb black belt, continuous sparring

- Gold - Subrina Richards, 140-149lb black belt, clash sparring

- Gold - Sheckema Cunningham, -129lb black belt, continuous sparring

- Gold - Sheckema Cunningham, -129lb black belt, clash sparring

- Bronze - Marissa Jones,

-129lb black belt, clash sparring

- Gold - Aneeke Brown, 130-139lb clash sparring, female lightweight black belt; bronze - points sparring.

- Silver - Jasmine Barrows, 130-139lb clash sparring, female lightweight black belt); silver - points sparring.