Comeback girl Cunningham
SHECKEMA Cunningham's form has her coach, Jason McKay, predicting that the microweight fighter will dominate her division, locally and internationally, for quite a while.
Cunningham, 31, has been enjoying a solid run of success since returning from injury to win double individual gold in continuous and clash sparring at the 2016 United States Open.
At this year's US Open, Cunningham, the female combined martial arts team captain, led from the front with two victories in Jamaica's Caribbean Gold Cup win against perennial rivals Puerto Rico.
"She has made an incredible comeback," remarked McKay. "This year she will break every record, locally and internationally," he predicted.
Cunningham already has the record of being Jamaica's first fighter to win an International Taekwon-Do Federation World Championship medal for sparring, earning a bronze in New Zealand 2011 before Alrick Wanliss joined her in the history books at the same tournament.
McKay believes Cunningham's turnaround started after she was dropped last May from the squad that had travelled to Stuttgart, Germany, for the 2016 International Sport Kickboxing Association's (ISKA) Amateur Members Association World Championships.
"After that disappointment, she has been nothing short of amazing. She stormed the US Open to win double gold, two months later, followed by back-to-back victories in New York, fighting World Taekwon-Do Federation style earlier this year."
An inspired Cunningham more than made up for missing last year's ISKA Members Association World Champs by landing double gold at this year's tournament in Athens, Greece, in May, before leading Jamaica to their first hold on the Caribbean Gold Cup last week in Orlando.
McKay said Cunningham showed the grit required of a martial artist.
"Last May, when she was cut from the squad, I had said her best years were ahead of her, but only if she put her mind to it," he reminded.
"My exact words then were that fighting is a belief game. You have to believe you can do it and that will propel you to train and perform, which is exactly what she did," he said.