Mon | Sep 16, 2019

Sealy excited for future after first Pan Am Games

Published:Monday | August 19, 2019 | 12:19 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer

When an ­athlete has accomplished all that he can as a junior, it’s not a matter of if he will make the jump to the next level, but when.

For young Taekwondo athlete Brandon Sealy, when the decision came to him to compete as either a junior or a senior, the opportunity to challenge himself against higher calibre of competition was all the reason he needed to make the leap.

The 17-year-old Jamaican is now soaking up the experience after making his global games debut at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, recently.

“To be able to represent Jamaica and walk amongst my fellow Jamaican athletes is an ­experience that I will never forget and will always cherish,” said Sealy.

Executive member of the Jamaica Taekwondo Federation Kenroy Clarke heaped praises and appreciation on Sealy.

BIG MOVE

“I’m sincerely elated and proud of him because he trains ­assiduously seven days a week and maintains an A+ average in school despite competing during the semester,” Clarke said. “His transition to competing as a senior was a big move. [He saw] his first competition in March this year at the Pan American Games ­qualifiers. [Competing in] his first event against more experienced athletes seemed like an incredulous task, but he proved himself by qualifying for the Pan American Games.”

Sealy, who made the jump to the senior level at age 16, has had great and historic success as a ­junior, winning the first gold medal for Jamaica at the Pan American Open in Spokane, Washington, in the United States (US) last year. His youth career includes bronze medals in the 2014 US Open and the 2017 WTF Presidents Cup and silver in the 2016 Canada Open and the 2018 US Open. In the lead-up to the games in Peru, he won a bronze medal at the Pan American Open Championship in Portland, Oregon, his first medal at that level.

“He trains mostly times six days a week with Master Tony Byon. He realises the importance of hard work, especially because he is going up against people who have much more experience in the senior division than he does,” Clarke said.

Entering his first-ever global games, it was understandable for nerves to develop before Sealy’s 68kg round-of-eight match against Carl Edwards Jr of the United States. The nerves were so great that he struggled in the first two rounds of his bout.

“I allowed nerves to get the best of me in the first two rounds,” Sealy admitted.

He managed to finish the match strong, winning the third round 12 to eight, but that was not enough to win the overall match.

But despite coming just short, Sealy benefited from the experience and is already forging ahead towards making improvements for future competitions.

“The Pan American Games, being a continental [tournament], was quite an impressive event. The magnitude of this event was a little intimidating, and I am now working on relaxation techniques and continuing with my international training,” said Sealy. “[I hope] that 2020 will be an awesome experience.”

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com