Thu | Jan 17, 2019

J’cans eyeing Karate at Tokyo 2020

Published:Tuesday | January 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer
Kenneth Edwards representing Jamaica in Taekwondo against an opponent from China during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

JAMAICA's newly formed Jamaica Karate Federation is hoping to create history and be among the nations fielding athletes at Tokyo 2020 when karate makes its Olympic Games debut in its homeland.

President Seishihan Tony Robinson of Seido Karate recently led a small team of Jamaicans to the Curacao Pan-Am Karate Open at which London 2012 taekwondo Olympian Kenneth Edwards won the overall male title.

Ascot High's Tyrique Tai-Loy, a junior black belt and formerly of Calabar High, also won silver and bronze at the event, which, Robinson said, was a good test for the Jamaicans ahead of upcoming regional Olympic qualifiers.

Edwards is a veteran martial artist with his roots in Ningen karate and both disciplines of taekwondo, stating with International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) style and later World Taekwon-Do Federation in which he historically competed at London 2012.

Tai-Loy, 15, grew up in Zendo karate and later ITF-style taekwondo, practised under the McKay Security Jamaica Tae-kwondo High School programme and Jamaica combined martial arts team, which sponsored the athletes' trip to CuraÁao.

Edwards swept the men's division in blistering fashion to win his first karate match in years. Tai-Loy, who won silver 1n boys 12-14 and bronze in 14-16, used his speed and feet to good effect.

"It was a very small team which had to adjust to the different rules of the World Karate Federation (WKF)," Seishihan Robinson explained. "It went very well, though, and we came out successful. It was a challenge to adjust but our guys persevered and came out on top."

"Martial arts in the Pan Am region is of a pretty high standard. We proved once again that Jamaicans are up to any task," he added.




Looking to Tokyo, Seishihan Robinson believes Edwards, 31, could make a second Olympics.

"I think right now, he has a very strong chance of qualifying for the Japan Olympics. Personally, he is our best hope right now. He is very versatile in all martial arts, and karate was his first discipline."

Edwards' brother, Keith, who heads Ningen Karate, is the first vice-president of the Jamaica Karate Federation, seconded by Christopher Coleman of Zendo Karate.

Meanwhile, Seishihan Robinson said he was enthused at karate's Olympic debut, pointing out that after years of infighting among rival disciplines, a consensus was reached on WKF rules, which lean to Shotokan karate.

"Over the years we have fought for karate to be involved. The problem was so many different styles, not being a unified body. Each style thought they were 'the style', just too many factions. Right now, we have reached an agreement. The infighting has been ironed out," said the Seido Karate head.

However, Edwards and his local counterparts will have tough competition to wear the black, green and gold in Tokyo, Seishihan Robinson warned.

"Jamaicans living in England have expressed a desire to represent the country. Just last month, a guy came down asking about the possibility of making the Jamaican team," he said.