Ainsley Walters, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Phillip McDowell's strong international showing continued last weekend when he won gold in the tough heavyweight division at the New York Tae kwon do Open in Queens, beating US champion George Kayumov.
Fighting in his second international since being called to the combined martial arts team, McDowell conquered a division in which only teammate Kenneth Edwards has ever won gold for Jamaica.
The 28-year-old Sidekicks Tae kwon do fighter has been enjoying a dream run, winning silver and bronze medals, on his first outing, at the United States Open in July.
"It has been going good so far," said McDowell, whose elder brother, Kevin, is also a member of the combined martial arts team.
"New York was good. I was going there for the first time, not sure what to expect. All the competitors were gearing up for the World Championships in Spain so it was quality competition," he added.
McDowell battled through four rounds to lift the heavyweight title as he stuck to his game plan against Kayumov.
"I had better kicks and was faster, so I constantly kept him on the outside. The game plan worked to perfection. All four judges gave me victory, which was extremely pleasing," he told The Gleaner.
Coached by his father as a youngster, Phillip and his brother started practising martial arts as teenagers. However, a hamstring injury forced him out of the sport until he made a gradual return two years ago.
"I entered two tournaments last year and got enough points to make the combined team. I really won my place by winning the heavyweight division at the McKay Security Black Belt Invitational," he added.
Enthused by his progress so far, McDowell said he is aiming to dominate at the three remaining local tournaments this year.
"I hope to win my division and probably top the standings for Fighter of the Year," he said.