Thu | Dec 13, 2018

Jamaican high schoolers at NY taekwondo open

Published:Saturday | September 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMAinsley Walters

A talented squad of Jamaican high-school martial artists, led by Calabar's Tye McKay, depart the island this morning for tomorrow's 22nd Anniversary of the International Taekwon-Do Federation New York Taekwon-Do Tournament at the Fitzgerald Gymnasium of Queens College.

The squad of seven features fighters from Calabar High, Jamaica College, St George's College and Wolmer's Boys' School, the eldest being 18.

Coach Jason McKay said constantly exposing the youngsters to high-level competition, following July's United States Open in Orlando, Florida, will ensure there is continuity in local martial arts.

"This is a high-school super-squad that allows us to constantly gauge their improvement and to ensure we have a world-class squad to replace ageing fighters by 2022 and beyond," he said.

The seven fighters all participate in the McKay Security Jamaica Taekwondo High School League, which resumes next month at the Jamaica Taekwondo Junior Open.

Captain Mckay, 17, and Daniel Azan, 15, are from defending high school champions Calabar; Ryan Robinson, 16, and Duncan Smith, 17, a junior black belt, are from St George's; Sharic Bowen, 15, and Justin Brown, 16, attend Jamaica College, while Ackeem Gordon, 18, is a Wolmerian.

McKay is aiming to defend the double gold he won in 16-17 black stripe patterns and sparring last year. He, along with Azan, who won gold in sparring, 14-year-old boys, white belt, were the only two from the group at the tournament last year.

However, the squad has been in training this summer and did well individually at the US Open.

"They hit hard in New York, they're big," said McKay. I expect a similar challenge. I can say I have gotten older, but I expect them to be bigger," he added.