Lindsay training for four gold
IN 2014, Akino Lindsay was a bright-eyed red belt, age 19, cheering from ringside as Jamaica's black belts defeated teams from Argentina and Canada to historically win their first-ever senior sparring title at an International Taekwondo Federation world event.
Come next Wednesday, the 23-year-old, who has since filled out his six-foot frame, will step into the ring at the Montego Bay Convention Centre as one of Jamaica's big men at the International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) Amateur Members Association World Championship.
Now a black belt and armed with ISKA Amateur Members Association, World Championship gold medals won in Portugal 2015 and Greece 2017, fighting -86 and -90 kilos, respectively, Lindsay is a heavy favourite to defend his continuous sparring title at home, in addition to joining his teammates and idols - Olympian Kenneth Edwards, Nicholas Dusard and Richard Stone in team sparring.
"I am very excited to fight alongside Nick and Kenneth. It will be my first World Championship team-sparring with these guys. I am really excited," he said.
Though an excitable young man, still basking in his sudden rise in international martial arts, Lindsay, who defeated Edwards at July's ISKA US Open, where he won an historic four gold medals, said he is under no pressure to perform at home.
"I try not to think about pressure. Training has been going well. I think I am slightly better. At the US Open, I had a really bad knee injury. It's almost healed, so I am much better," the Waterhouse native added, almost oblivious to the fact that his two titles make him the most successful Jamaican male ISKA fighter at the championships.
However, after grabbing four gold medals at the US Open World Championships in July - continuous, team continuous, points and clash sparring, in which he had beaten Edwards in the semis - Lindsay's confidence is easily understood.
"If I am going by what the United States are saying and the sheer numbers coming from Britain, who are very dominant in ISKA, it will be a tough tournament. However, doing anything at home is much easier, much more comfortable, no jetlag or time zone to worry about. I believe home advantage will be great," he said.
With four ISKA gold tucked away from this year's US Open, in addition to those won in Portugal and Greece, Lindsay could go down in history as one of the organisation's best should he make a clean sweep in Montego Bay.
"I can't promise anything but I can tell you I am training for four gold," he warned.