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Massive Ja squad for tae kwon do ‘Challenge’ in New Jersey

Published:Thursday | April 23, 2015 | 4:00 AMAinsley Walters

Jamaica will field a massive squad of 20 for Saturday's Ultimate Tae Kwon Do Challenge at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tenafly, New Jersey.

Coaches Claude Chin and Jason McKay will lead a 10-member unit comprising members of Jamaica's combined martial arts team, male and female, alongside high-schoolers from the Jamaica Taekwon-Do programme.

Alvin Bernard's Ultimate Tae Kwon Do Challenge has become a permanent fixture on the itinerary of the combined martial arts team, which will feature Olympian and team captain Kenneth Edwards, Ackeem Lawrence, Adrian Moore and Demar King in action.

Described by McKay as "a major tool in the combined team and Jamaica's coaching arsenal", Bernard represented the United States for most of his career before going on to coach many top-notch North American fighters out of his Ultimate Tae Kwon Do Center.

"The New Jersey Ultimate Tae Kwon Do Challenge is an exceptional training ground ahead of the ITF World Championships in Italy, set for early June," McKay pointed out.

Mandeville Taekwon-do Centre will have 10 students travelling under the supervision of coach Joleen Masters, overall Jamaica team manager.

Tashauna Grannum, who recently won middleweight black belt gold at the International Taekwon-Do Federation's (ITF) African Taekwon-Do Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, is the sole female combined team representative.

Ashieka Dyer and veteran Sheckema Cunningham failed to make the cut after not attaining the required training hours.

Meanwhile, the high-schoolers will be travelling as a junior squad comprising Calabar's John Lindo and Christopher Campbell; Jamaica College's Joshane Thompson and Tahj Hewitt, alongside St George's College's Duncan Smith.

Mandeville Taekwon-Do Centre will field Jomo Godfrey, Jahsiah McLean, Justyn Reid, Ashlei Rowe, Jaheim Rowe, Ray-Junior Slater, Trevon Richards, Zyair Roberts, Matthew Peart and Jaeland Hamm, who will join the central Jamaica team in New Jersey from Houston, Texas.