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Combined team duo strike gold in Vancouver

Published:Friday | November 20, 2015 | 11:00 AMAinsley Walters

ACKEEM LAWRENCE and Richard Stone recently returned home with gold medals in sparring from the North American and Caribbean International Taekwon-Do Federation Championships, held at Richmond Olympic Oval, Greater Vancouver, Canada.

The pair closed the Jamaica combined martial arts team's 2015 season on a golden note while achieving personal goals ahead of the new year.

Lawrence, normally a microweight fighter, moved up to lightweight - 63 kilos - and was impressive in seeing off Canadian Josh Dumoulin 4-0 in the final.

Stone, fighting as a black belt in his first major international outside the US Open, also beat a Canadian, Jeff Stoffregen, 3-1, in the heavyweight division.

Master Claude Chin said Lawrence performed as expected, whereas for Stone, it was a good experience as a new black belt.

"Ackeem, I knew could have done it, based on his performance at the World Championships in Italy in May. He made the quarter-finals of successive World Championships and was really looking forward to this competition," Chin pointed out.

"Stone, because this was his first big international apart from the US Open, normally fights as a light heavyweight, - 78 kilos; however, I moved him up to 85 because of his speed. He is faster than the heavyweights.

"He totally dominated his first fight. In the semis, it was a bit tougher. In the last fight, he had to pull out all the stops. He proved that with training, there is room for more improvement. He got his black belt last year," Chin added.

Lawrence had two bouts to the final, winning each 4-0 before getting past Canadian Jeff Turchyn in the semis. Fireworks were initially expected in the division as Lawrence had seemed destined to meet former world champion Julio Carlos, but the American moved up to middleweight and duly took that crown.

Stone won his quarter-final bout 4-0 against Canada's Victor Liu. He swept Jason Strandberg 4-0 in the semis before taking gold against Stoffregen.