Jamaica eyeing record medal haul
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
BATTLE lines were drawn from as early as yesterday's weigh-in for the fifth International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Cup, which kicks off this morning at Montego Bay's Convention Centre.
Flags representing the 30 participating countries hung from balconies at the nearby athletes' village at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, sending a clear message to Jamaica's 75 athletes that no comfort should be had from being at home.
Jamaica have never won more than two medals at an ITF world tournament and are hoping their stars will turn back the likes of Argentina, which have with 163 athletes ready and raring to go for the biggest martial arts tournament ever held in the Caribbean.
The locals will be on the medal hunt starting this morning at 9 a.m. when mainly coloured belts pre-juniors and juniors face off in sparring and patterns.
However, black belt action previews in the afternoon with Ashieka Dyer of Jamaica Taekwon-Do Centre down to face Dafne Aramendy of Argentina in ring seven female black belt sparring, -56kg senior.
Dyer, a many-time medallist at the United States Open and a member of Jamaica's female combined team, is among the local senior black belt stars expected to make the finals at home, starting tomorrow.
Dyer's teammates, Sheckema Cunningham and junior black belt Subrina Richards, are also touted for podium spots.
In the male draw, Olympian Kenneth Edwards is defending World Cup heavyweight champion, having won his first ITF world medal in Brighton, England in 2012. He is regarded as Jamaica's best shot at gold.
Nicholas Dusard won lightweight silver at Brighton and is also eyeing gold, which has eluded him at ITF world tournaments. The Jamaican lightweight star is up against old rivals Matias Bustamante of Argentina and United States' Julio Carlos, who eliminated him at the World Championships in Spain last October.
Jamaica's darkhorse is Alrick Wanliss Jr, who is on a comeback path after taking a hiatus. Wanliss is Jamaica's most decorated ITF fighter and is in his hometown, Montego Bay, where he will have strong support.
A microweight, Wanliss won Jamaica's first ITF World Cup gold in Italy 2008. The man from the Second City has two World Cup medals, having first won bronze in Spain 2006. He is also the only Jamaican male with a World Championship sparring medal, having won bronze in New Zealand 2011.
Jamaica are particularly strong in the senior male microweight division as Wanliss is joined by Ackeem Lawrence, who not only spars well, but is a strong contender to medal in patterns.
Tonight's opening ceremony, 7 p.m., will feature singjay I-Octane as the billed act. Friday's gala night will see KipRich and the 'Energy God', Elephant Man, on stage.
Admission to the event each day is $500 and includes the opening ceremony. Gala night, however, will cost patrons $1,000 and starts at 8 p.m. on Friday. A season armband costs $2,500 and includes opening ceremony and gala night.
Male colour belts sparring -45kg pre-junior
Tye McKay vs Renya Hayshi (Japan)
Justyn Reid, Mandeville Taekwon-Do (bye), to face winner of Ryotaro Kobayashi (Japan) vs Nicolas Taylor (USA)
Jaeland Hamm, Mandeville Taekwon-Do vs Kim Andersson (Sweden)
Chavaughn Wilkins vs Alex Soto (Argentina)
Godfrey Jomo of Mandeville Taekwon-Do vs Ignacio Constancio (Argentina)
Male pattern, colour belts, junior
Joshane Thompson vs Matias Nielsen (Argentina)
Maurice HIbbert vs Juan Pablo Gomez (Colombia)
Paz Rodrigues vs Yukiyoshi Omisha (Japan)
Deandre Leith vs Julian Volenterio (Argentina)
Akeem Bancroft vs Valtteri Mustonen (Finland)
Tahj Hewitt vs Andreas Lindholm (Sweden)
Hakeem Dunkley, Mandeville Taekwon-Do, vs Geronimo Neyro (Argentina)
Christopher Campbell vs Walter Trussy (Pataguay)
David Watkin, Ultimate and Red Dragon Taekwon-Do, vs Vishal Reddy (Canada)
Damany Gayle vs Tom Schollaert (Belgium)
Male pattern, colour belts, senior
Kevaughn Johnson vs Guillermo Colombo (Argentina)
Jason Williams vs Dario Morales (Argentina)
Richard Stone vs Gil Hernan (Argentina)
Akeel Andrews (bye) to face winner of Gavin Wallace (England ) vs Daniel Agudelo (Colombia)
Female black belt sparring -56kg senior
Ashieka Dyer vs Dafne Aramendy (Argentina)
Wanliss ... Jamaica's darkhorse
Kenneth Edwards ... Jamaica's best shot at gold.