Jamaica stars off to Taekwondo World Cup
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica is on the hunt to create further martial arts history when a team of 14 competitors jet off to Brighton, England, this afternoon for the October 4-7 International Taekwondo Federation World Cup 2012.
Alrick Wanliss historically handed Jamaica a gold medal at the 2008 tournament in Italy, inspiration for the team led by Olympian Kenneth Edwards to seek more sporting glory in Jamaica's 50th year of Independence following the exploits of its track athletes at the London Olympics.
Edwards leads Jamaica's contingent, which includes ITF Pan Am champion Nicholas Dussard and an emerging batch of youngsters from Jamaica's combined martial arts team, Oshane Murray, Ackeem Lawrence, Adrian Moore and Martin Pagan.
Jamaica's females also have strong representation, led by Sheckema Cunningham, who last year became the first black woman to medal at the ITF World Championships, taking a bronze in New Zealand.
In July, the in-form Cunningham again made an international mark. She became the first Jamaican woman to win an International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) world title when she defeated Argentina's Anna Serrano, live on ESPN3, during the US Open's Night of Champions at the Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Joining Cunningham in the female line-up are Tashauna Grannum, Subrina Richards, Maya McKay, Jasmine Barrows and Ashieka Dyer. Completing Jamaica's roster are two juniors from Mandeville Taekwondo, Zario Wint and Alana Pennant.
Dussard is a three-tournament veteran, attending twice as a junior and once as a senior, 2004, 2006 and 2008, respectively.
In 2008, when Wanliss won gold, Dussard had crashed out in the first round.
However, he said he's far more experienced and decorated for the England 2012.
"I have way more experience now and I now know how to win," said the 23-year-old. "I know how to pace my fights to get through the rounds. In 2008, I was a bit impatient in that match and I was fighting Serrano from Argentina."
Since his loss in Italy, Dussard has built a solid résumé, finishing third in the European Cup in Slovakia in 2010, clinching the ISKA World Continuous Sparring championship in 2011, plus the 2012 Pan Am Games in a year which he has gone unbeaten.
"My closest rival should be ITF World Champion Julio Carlos of the USA," Dussard pointed out.
The Jamaican already has a psychological advantage over his American rival, having beaten him in the final of the Pan Games in Quebec City, Canada.
The 2012 World Cup should host more than 1,600 competitors from 160 clubs/associations and 45 countries.
The venue is the biggest conference centre in the southeast, The Brighton Centre, Kings Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2GR.
There are five age categories:
Competitors' events will be split into blue/red belts and black belts (up to sixth degree), with individual events (pattern, sparring, special technique and power test) and team events in pattern, sparring and prearranged sparring.
Registration, weigh-in and referee meetings will take place on Wednesday.