McKay fails in record qualification bid
Jamaica's combined martial arts team will open its new season at the January 27 Jamaica Taekwondo Academy Open with founder Jason McKay not on the group's roster of fighters for the first time in its 18-year history.
McKay's semi-final loss to Philadelphia super heavyweight, John Smythe, at last year's American Taekwondo Association Delaware Regional Tournament in Wilmington, was his last chance to secure qualification points to make the 2018 squad.
Needing a win to move up from 11th place, McKay lost despite a good showing against the much bigger Smythe, in addition to being mat-rusty after months of inactivity.
A YEAR OF NO-SHOWS
The veteran fighter started last season by winning January's Colorado Open and seemed set for a record 18th combined team qualification but a knee injury almost ended his year, leaving him 11th in the standings with a string of no-shows.
Despite bowing out of combined team action, McKay said it demonstrates that making the squad is not an easy task.
"It shows a tremendous development within the sport that, even with eight international points, I can't make the top 10. This is coming from an era when five points would have put you in the top five.
"It is a sport that I have worked hard to build, and my non-qualification is living proof that my efforts have borne fruit," he added.
McKay, however, said he intends to remain as Jamaica's most active senior fighter in any combat sport by competing this season under the banner of the Jamaica Taekwondo Association on the New York circuit and will decide if he should retire, based on performance, at year end.
The only active founding member of Jamaica's combined martial arts team, which started in 2001, McKay groomed the careers of Olympian Kenneth Edwards and stepson Nicholas Dusard.
He served as captain for more than a decade, leading Jamaica to 50 consecutive victories before handing the reins to Dusard. His international career began in 1991 at the Florida State Open and has competed for Jamaica more than 100 times.