Sun | Jul 12, 2020

Ivy League bound - Jamaican tae kwon do athlete Sealy heads to Princeton

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2020 | 12:33 AMDaniel Wheeler - Sunday Gleaner Writer

WHILE JAMAICAN tae kwon do athlete Brandon Sealy awaits a return to competitive action this year, he managed to celebrate a major milestone in his young life.

The 17-year-old Sealy, who is based in the United States, will be heading to Princeton University in the fall. He said that achievement was a recognition of the hard work that he has done in maintaining his academic and sport balance but also the support that his parents and his long-time instructor Master Tony Byron have given him.

“It was a lot of hard work over the years because I’ve been having to balance tae kwon do and my schoolwork, because both are very important to me,” Sealy told The Sunday Gleaner. “It was a lot of dedication and focus. I’m so thankful to my parents for instilling this discipline in me and always being supportive of me.”

He said that while he had offers from schools such as Cornell, Brown and the University of Chicago, he felt that Princeton was the best choice for him for his future endeavours.

“Princeton was the closest and also the school that I really wanted in terms of what I want to be. I want to be cardiothoracic surgeon later on, (so) I felt like that was the best choice for me,” he said.

Sealy recalled that he missed various periods of the school term to represent Jamaica in various tournaments. This led him to ensure that while in competition, his grades did not suffer as a result.

HISTORIC SUCCESS

He has risen through the ranks of the sport, having great and historic success at the junior level highlighted by winning Jamaica’s first gold medal at the Pan American Open in 2018. He made the jump to the senior level at 16 and won his first medal in that category, a bronze at the Pan American Open Championship last year. Additionally, he represented the country at last year’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

Tae kwon do, like other sports, has not been spared the effects of the coronavirus pandemic with tournaments being suspended. Sealy is an Olympic hopeful and is aiming towards an appearance at the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed to July 2021. He says that while he is uncertain of future events such as the Olympic qualifiers, he is making sure that he is ready to compete.

“I’m always working to do the best I can, so if opportunities present themselves, then I am ready,” Sealy said.