We're identifying future Olympians - McKay
Black belt Ackeem Lawrence and a team of junior coloured-belt martial artists recently returned from Florida with five silver and a bronze reaped at a World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) open event at which coach Jason McKay said the experienced gained outweighed their medal haul.
Lawrence won silver, whereas St George's College's Ryan Robinson led the juniors with two silver. Jamaica College's pair of Justin Brown and Sharic Bowen each won silver as Shortwood Practicing Primary's Sebalaixy Lindo picked up a bronze under the watchful eyes of coaches McKay and Paul Lindo.
"We are identifying future Olympians, training and exposing them to international competition as a precursor to future Olympic qualification," said McKay, who has brought two international martial arts world tournaments to Montego Bay, Jamaica, the latest being last year's International Sports Kickboxing Association's (ISKA) Amateur members' Associations World Championships.
"The intention is to expose them, as much as possible, to the Olympic style of taekwondo because, unfortunately, not a lot is happening in Jamaica with this style, so we have to go abroad to seek competition," he added.
"These efforts are post-season and are not to get great wins. The fact they did reasonably well is great. The real ambition is to expose these promising young fighters to see what the style of fighting is and to do their best to adapt to it," he pointed out.
McKay identified Brown as having "amazing potential", whereas Robinson, he said, "has tremendous heart, the core ability of a fighter". But, being a very successful kickboxer and ISKA fighter, adapting may be more difficult for Robinson, McKay said.
"These fighters do everything, kickboxing, International Taekwondo Federation-style, WTF-style, ISKA, whereas an average fighter, internationally, is confined to one style. Jamaicans do everything. It doesn't create the best specialists, but we expose them to every style then have them specialise in the one that they excel in," he explained, using Kenneth Edwards as an example.
"Kenneth is a karate fighter who trained and excelled in ITF taekwondo but went to the Olympics fighting WTF as Jamaica's first-ever taekwondo Olympian in London 2012. He could have easily been Jamaica's first karate representative in Tokyo 2020," he pointed out.