Ainsley Walters, Sunday Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA's male adult black belts, comprising members of the combined martial arts team, closed the fifth International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Cup in a wave of emotion at Montego Bay's Convention Centre yesterday.
Saddled with the disappointment of failing to strike gold at home in individual events Friday, in addition to Subrina Richards having to settle for silver on centre stage that night, Jamaica's 18-35 male team historically beat Canada and two powerful Argentine sides on way to lifting team-sparring gold in front of a jubilant home crowd.
It was sweet revenge for Jamaica, especially Olympian Kenneth Edwards, who had lost 1-3 to Canada's Aziz Abdellahi in individual semi-final sparring, -78kg, on Friday, but returned to wipe out the Canadian, 4-0, when he met him on the mat in yesterday's team-sparring semi-finals.
Jamaica's team-sparring gold moved the country's tally to 46 medals - a rich 17 gold, 14 silver and 15 bronze - 44 more than the island had ever won at any ITF world tournament.
Tears were being wiped, discreetly and openly, as Jamaica's team members - Edwards, Nicholas Dusard, Scott Wright, the brave Adrian Moore, fleet-footed Ackeem Lawrence and young Daron Harrrison - celebrated on centre stage.
Coach Claude Chin was ecstatic for the country's first team-sparring gold medal at an ITF world event.
"We almost did it in Italy 2008 and controversially lost the match to make the semi-finals. This is special because it's at home and we did it for the Jamaican people who have supported us for the last 10 years.
Chin described the historic medal as "the best moment ever for Jamaican martial arts".
"To beat two Argentine teams, the country with the biggest contingent, more than 200 athletes, and some of the best coaches in the world, that was not easy," he said.
Jamaica sat on a first-round bye and watched the Argentines on their side of the draw beat the United States.
Against Argentina in the second round, Lawrence opened and won his bout 2-1; Edwards was convincing with a 4-0 victory, and Wright got past his rival 2-0. Moore lost 1-2, but Harrison fired Jamaica into the semis against Canada with a 2-0 win.
Canada was a heated affair as three Jamaican black belts were eliminated by the North Americans in individual sparring on Friday.
Edwards was ruthless in the opening match against Abdellahi, Wright won the second 3-1, and Moore won the third on his back, 2-1, recovering from an illegal punch after the umpire's call. Dussard was clinical in his 4-0 victory and though Harrison lost 1-3, Jamaica were through to the final against the Argentines from the opposite draw.
Though Argentina sat and watched the Jamaicans keenly against Canada, it made no difference as the locals were too hyped to lose. Edwards' spin kick befuddled his opening-bout rival, who went down 4-0; Wright battled to a brave 2-2 draw against a much bigger opponent, and Dussard was all style in a 4-0 win, ensuring the two remaining bouts. Were the Argentines to win each at a maximum 4-0, it would have left the score tied 10-10, forcing a fight off.
The Argentines rallied, but their 3-1 victory over Moore and 3-0 against Lawrence moved the score to 10-8 with Jamaica lasting home by two points.
Other medals won yesterday
❐ Silver - Mandeville Taekwon-Do, coloured belt, 12-14 girls, team sparring
❐ Gold - Mandeville Taekwon-Do, coloured belt, 12-14 boys, team sparring
❐ Gold - Mandeville Taekwon-Do, 12-14 boys, team patterns
❐ Gold - Jamaica Taekwon-Do Centre, coloured belt, 15-17 boys, team sparring
❐ Gold - Jamaica Taekwon-Do Centre, adult coloured belt, 18-35, team sparring
❐ Silver - Ultimate and Red Dragon Taekwon-Do, adult coloured belt, 18-35, team sparring
❐ Silver - Ultimate and Red Dragon Taekwon-Do, advance black belt, 36-45, team sparring