Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA's martial artists are expected to rock Benidorm, Spain, with not only their renowned fighting skills, but also flashy Vivobarefoot team kit and footwear at the October 23-27 International Taekwon-do Federation World Championship.
Endorsed earlier this year by Vivobarefoot, the world's first 'minimalist' shoe, a lightweight concept launched in 2004, Jamaica's martial artists put on a record-breaking display at July's US Open in Orlando, Florida.
Apart from conquering rivals on the mat at the world's biggest martial arts open, the Jamaicans drew stares of admiration and were constantly quizzed by competitors and officials alike, about their light and trendy footwear, which depicts the colours of the national flag.
"It was the first time they were seeing Vivobarefoot at a tournament in the United States," explained Nicholas Dussard, a US Open gold medallist.
"I fought in a Vivobarefoot dobok (taekwon-do uniform) on the Night of Champions, which was broadcast live on ESPN3, and wore the shoe before and after the fight. The response was amazing, especially from Jamaicans living abroad," he said.
Dussard expects an even more robust response in Europe when the Jamaicans hit Spain, then Cyprus, October 29-November 3.
"I don't want to imagine what it will be like in Europe next month, when we travel to Spain for the World Championship and Cyprus for the ISKA Champs the following week.
"Jamaica's track and field athletes set Europe alight in Moscow and dominated the sprints in the Diamond League so anything with Jamaica's green, gold and black is a hot commodity in Europe right now," he pointed out.
Vivobarefoot, a second-generation Clarks brand available at Clarks stores in the United Kingdom and online at vivobarefootjamaica.com, is rated as "the most comprehensive line of minimalist shoes on the market".
Jamaica's martial artists are featured prominently on the vivobarefootjamaica.com website as part of their endorsement deal with the footwear company.
Jamaicans who purchase online get a 20 per cent discount by using a promo code which accompanies the national flag. The combined team gets a commission every time a Jamaican purchase is made online.