Record medals already! Jamaica claim six on opening day of ITF World Cup
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
WHAT a difference home advantage makes! Jamaica's martial artists mined six medals on yesterday's opening day of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Cup in Montego Bay, four more than they have ever won at any ITF world tournament.
Bolstered by an army of coloured-belt pre-juniors and juniors, who do not normally travel to ITF world events due to cost constraints, Jamaica predictably won their first two medals, gold and bronze, from the junior ranks.
Jamaica's medal tally stands at two gold, two silver and two bronze after day one of the three-day event, the biggest martial arts tournament ever staged in the Caribbean.
A child shall lead them and 14-year-old Jamaica College student Chavaughn Wilkins of Jamaica Taekwon-Do Centre, emerged with the island's first gold, defeating Argentina's Fernando Grababi 3-1 in 12-14 coloured belt, -60kg weight category.
Wilkins got past fellow Jamaican Jomo Godfrey of Mandeville Taekwon-Do, 4-0, in semi-final action. By reaching the semi-final, Godfrey won bronze, Jamaica's second medal.
Shortly after, Mandeville Taekwon-Do's Jashiah McLean added a second gold in the 12-14 coloured belt division, emerging victorious in the -52.0 kg weight category.
Tye McKay bagged silver after going down to Ryotaro Kobayashi, -45kg pre-juniors coloured belts. David Hall and Kenneil Reid closed Jamaica's evening on the podium by taking silver and bronze, respectively.
Hall took silver in the 36 to 45 year-old advanced black belt division, fighting in the 68kg category. Reid won bronze in patterns, 18-35 adult coloured belt.
Wilkins was at a loss for words after learning he had won Jamaica's first medal, more so gold.
"I didn't know that," he said. "It feels amazing to be the first, makes me want to work even harder to get more gold."
The teen started practicing tae kwon do in first form after joining the McKay Security Jamaica Taekwon-Do Asso-ciation's high school programme, the island's breeding ground of future champions.
"I like martial arts. It's fun and you make a lot of friends," he added.
The veteran Hall, who last competed internationally at the 2010 ITF World Championships in Quebec, Canada, was Jamaica's only fighter on centre stage yesterday, but was outmanoeuvred by Argentina's Esteban Lafuente.
Hall led during the first round after catching the Argentine with sharp side kicks, but his rival soon figured him out and stayed outside for the rest of the match and won points by landing counter punches on the Jamaican.
"He saw the legs getting up and avoided them. I tried to have him settle and come in to the kicks, but he didn't. When I punched, he had some follow-up punches which he scored with," 42-year-old Hall explained.
Action continues this morning with junior and adult black belts taking the mats inside the Montego Bay Convention Centre, with Jamaica on the hunt for more medals.
Jamaicans in action
Male pattern, colour belts, pre-junior
Jahsiah McLean of Mandeville Taekwon-Do vs Cody MacDonald of New Zealand
Nathan DaCosta of Mandeville Taekwon-Do vs Severi Mustonen of Finland
Tye McKay vs Perry Grewell (USA)
Justin Stanley of Mandeville Taekwon-Do vs Otis Waghorn (England)
Jomo Godfrey of Mandeville Taewkon-Do vs Mark Tarves (Canada)
Chavaughn Wilkins vs William Shepperson (England)
Jaeland Hamm of Mandeville TaeKwon-Do vs Alex Petrovich (New Zealand)
Kahleel Haighs of Mandeville Taekwon-Do vs Juan Antonio Escurra (Paraguay)
Ring 1 (Centre)
Male pattern, second degree senior
Ackeem Lawrence vs Armando Ruiz (Argentina)
Male colour belt sparring - 68kg junior
Maurice Hibbert vs Victor Rebours (Norway)
Male colour belt sparring - 68kg junior
David Watkin of Jamaica's Ultimate and Red Dragon Taekwon-Do (bye) to face winner of Deandre Leith vs Tom Schollaert (Belgium)
Male colour belt sparring - 50kg junior
Christopher Campbell (bye) to face winner of Akeem Bancroft vs Tadeo Gauvron Bernuez
Male colour belt sparring - 56kg junior
Paz Rodriques vs Vishal Reddy (Canada)
Joshane Thompson (bye) to face winner of Damany Gayle vs Edward Weston (England)
Male black belt sparring - 50kg junior
Delano Francis vs Primoz Drevensek (Slovenia)