Ja squad leaves for US Open
MORE than 60 martial artists started departing the island yesterday morning, with the main group due to leave today, for the International Sports Karate Association's (ISKA) United States Open, which Jamaica opens at 5 p.m. when they compete in the all-female three-country Gold Cup.
Fighters from Kingston Taekwon-Do, Ultimate Taekwon-Do and four karate schools, Ningen, Rising Sun, Seido and Zendo, will face martial artists from every country imaginable at the Coronado Resort in Orlando, Florida, vying for US Open medals.
Respective captains of Jamaica's teams were brimming with confidence at the Norman Manley International Airport despite the tough competition awaiting them at the biggest martial arts open in the world.
Hydel Group of School's sixth former, Akino Lindsay, captains Kingston Taekwon-Do's 11 juniors, among a group of 17 high schoolers holding varying degrees of belts.
Lindsay won two gold medals at last August's International Taekwon-Do Federation Gold Cup in Montego Bay, added another at the Pan Am Champs, Paraguay, in October, in addition to mining gold and bronze at the International Sports Kickboxing Association's World Champs in Portugal this year.
He was confident Jamaica's juniors will maintain the country's high standards in Orlando.
"I expect them to do well. Most have already been to this tournament and have a pretty good idea of what to do," he said.
Sheckema Cunningham captains Jamaica's females, who will be first out for the country this afternoon.
She is joined by Tashauna Grannum and Subrina Richards, facing rivals from Germany, South Africa and Chile in the Gold Cup, a round-robin team-fighting contest.
Richards is Jamaica's in-form female. She won the gold at weekend's Seido Open at the University of Technology and has been dominant on the international scene, topping the podium at the ISKA World Champs in Portugal.
Senior male captain Nicholas Dusard said much is expected of Rising Sun Karate's Kevin Brown, a member of Jamaica's combined martial arts team.
He is unbeaten on the local circuit this season, claiming the grand champion title at the Seido Open after topping the lightweight division at the Jamaica Superstars, Shai-Tai, Taekwon-Do and Ningen opens earlier this year.