Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Jamaica's Olympic tae kwon do representative, Kenneth Edwards, is looking to build on his spirited showing at the recently concluded London games but is staring down the barrel of a budget exceeding US$70,000 (J$6.3 million) for the upcoming year.
Edwards, who created history by becoming Jamaica's first tae kwon do participant at the Olympic Games, went down 4-6 to his first-round opponent - Asian champion and number six-seeded Liu Xiaobo in the 80+ KG category, but did his fan base no harm, with a fearless effort.
With the Olympics now a thing of the past, Edwards is hoping that the experience can serve to give his career a real 'shot in the arm', but knows very well that it will cost a tidy sum if he is to get the required training and competition opportunities that he needs to take his craft to the next level.
"Next year we have several competitions lined up, hopefully, the sponsors will assist us in making this possible. The first championships should be the US Open in early February, and I think we will be competing on the European circuit as well," said Edwards.
"The budget is looking over US$70,000 for the year so it's pretty costly, but that's what it takes at this level and, hopefully, we will be able to get that in place," he added.
Great sense of pride
Edwards, 26, is also counting on his efforts having a positive impact on the sport locally, and says he feels a great sense of pride having been the first from the island to compete at the Olympic level.
"The Olympic experience for me was a personal dream fulfilled. However, for the sport, martial art in Jamaica, it's invaluable how I feel for it to have put Jamaican martial arts on the map, so I am proud and honoured to be the person to spearhead that," said Edwards, who will resume training in a few weeks after his recent assessment and vacation periods.
"I have been in New Jersey since the Olympics with my coach, reviewing the fights and projecting for the upcoming season.
"The overall perspective is that it really was a good fight (at the Olympics). Technically, we executed our game plan, there were some things in the fight like couple of our shots were not being scored, but that wasn't our fault, it's up to the judges to score punches and catch some of the stuff," he added.
"The findings weren't detrimental to our training or how we executed in the day, but it was still very important for us to review," Edwards noted.