Historic double gold for Cunningham
SHECKEMA Cunningham on Thursday made coach Jason McKay proud after his tough decision to cut her from Jamaica's squad to last year's International Sport Kick-Boxing Association (ISKA) Amateur Members Association World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
The 31-year-old fighter responded by landing the microweight female black belt title in Athens, Greece, proving that she is still among the best in the world.
"I have been doing martial arts for a very long time and I have been on the international circuit for quite some time. However, this ISKA World Champs first-place medal is my biggest achievement yet, my very first World Champs medal and I am grateful for that," said Cunningham, who won Jamaica's second gold of the tournament, following Akino Lindsay's first-day title in super heavyweight action.
Following her disappointment last year, Cunningham hit the comeback trail and won double gold at the ISKA United States Open in Orlando, Florida.
Before departing for Athens, she won back-to-back medals in New York, fighting in World Taekwondo Federation events before facing European rivals in her first ISKA Amateur Members Association World Championships.
With Jamaica set to host the tournament next year in Montego Bay, Cunningham, similar to Lindsay, said that she wished it were tomorrow.
"I am really, really looking forward to defending my title in Jamaica next year," she said.
After watching teammate Akino Lindsay win Jamaica's first medal, an inspired Cunningham came out firing to beat Semin Karabazar of Germany in semis action followed by Lagoudia Auglin of Greece to take the microweight crown.
Jamaica are eyeing four gold medals at the tournament with Ackeem Lawrence and two-time defending champion Subrina Richards set to take the mat this weekend.