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Home advantage can lift tae kwon do stars

Published:Sunday | August 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Kenneth Edwards

Ainsley Walters, Sunday Gleaner Writer

JAMAICA's martial arts stars and world champions will be vying for medals at home, alongside other international title holders, at the August 26-30 International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) World Cup at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

Olympian Kenneth Edwards is the defending ITF World Cup heavyweight champion, having won at Brighton, England 2012.

Microweight Alrick Wanliss won Jamaica's first ITF World Cup gold in Italy 2008. Wanliss will be attempting the double in his hometown of Montego Bay. The man from the Second City has two World Cup medals, having first won bronze in Spain 2006.

Wanliss also holds an ITF World Championship bronze medal, New Zealand 2011, making him the top ITF-decorated fighter locally.

Jamaica was represented at the first World Cup, Orlando 2004, by Arthur Barrows and Nicholas Dusard, then a junior. Both won bronze medals.

Dusard won a second medal, lightweight silver, at Brighton 2012 and is aiming at gold at home. Barrows returns in the advance senior black belt sparring division in Montego Bay, a decade after winning bronze at the first World Cup.

Female fighter Sheckema Cunningham holds an ITF World Championship bronze from New Zealand 2011. At Brighton 2012, she was eliminated by the eventual microweight champion.

Dusard captains Jamaica's team for Montego Bay 2014 and believes the local stars will be on the podium at home.

"The crowd will be there, family and friends, so the fighters will be more motivated," Dusard said.

"The established fighters and younger ones are good enough and well trained to make the podium," he added.