CAPTAIN Jason McKay led from in front with a gold-medal performance at last Saturday's Original Taekwon-Do Federation Open Tournament at the Durango Hills YMCA, Las Vegas, Nevada.
The combined martial arts team leader was left carrying the Jamaican flag after teammate Nicholas Dussard was withdrawn in the first round due to a recurring injury.
With Dussard's withdrawal, all rested on McKay's shoulders and the captain mined gold in his best individual performance since winning silver at the 2010 International Taekwondo Federation Pan Am Games in Argentina.
Coached by Olympian Kenneth Edwards, who was withdrawn a week prior, also due to injury, McKay first got past Samir Gulrajani before stopping Mile Walling in the final.
It was the veteran fighter's second North American tournament in a week after losing in the final of the New York Open in Queens on September 29.
'A BIT THROWN'
"I felt really good from last week but got a bit thrown off when I realised they had doubled the time allocated for each bout," McKay told The Gleaner.
"It was sheer will to take me through those rounds as my wind was affected by the environment here and the longer rounds," he added.
Signalling that he is intent on maintaining a ring presence when he steps down as captain at the end of the year, McKay showed glimpses of going all the way in his semi-final against Gulrajani by taking the early initiative and was ahead of his rival halfway through the bout.
However, it was tough going in the final against American Walling as the fighters traded blow for blow. McKay emerged winner, aided by his opponent's illegal techniques, which cost the American three points.
It was a solid international weekend, silver and gold medal performances for McKay. However, the veteran fighter had the battle scars to show.
"I wouldn't do it again. My teeth are loose from last week," he said.