Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
Jamaicans are this morning banking on the experienced duo of Nicholas Dussard and Sheckema Cunningham to earn their first medal at the International Taekwon-Do Federation World Championships (ITF) Benidorm, Spain.
The island's hope of getting off to a winning start was halted early yesterday morning when junior black belt Subrina Richards was stopped 3-1 by Chloe Aboud of Ireland in the 15-17, 55 kilos and under, category.
Richards, a 17-year-old with just one world tournament under her belt - last year's World Cup in Brighton, England - started brightly but struggled after receiving a blow to her right temple a minute and 40 seconds into the opening round.
The medics had to be called in as the slender Jamaican winced in pain. Asked whether she could continue by coach Jason McKay, Richards bravely went out, but fought guardedly thereafter.
There was no doubt that Aboud would have been adjudged the winner and no excuses came from Jamaica's camp.
"The girls out there are good. I was told this is where the best of the best comes. I could have done a little better," admitted Richards, who was also unsettled by a last-minute uniform change which had her on the brink of disqualification before she even took the ring.
"Her legs were really long and the mat a little slippery," she added, summarising her fight.
McKay said Richards was a bit off with her technique and also got a difficult first-round draw.
"She drew one of the favourites. I don't think she stuck to the plan. She needed to come off fast with the side kick off the front foot. I don't think she was really doing that. Had she not got that draw, she would have progressed through the draw.
"It appeared she received an injury to the jaw early in the fight. I think that threw her off," McKay added.
Dussard will be first out this morning, in the lightweight division, taking on Joselino Costa of Brazil.
Should he advance to the second round, he will face either Hernan Rueda of Chile or his great rival, the United States' Julio Carlos.
Adrian Moore will see middleweight action against Nico Corbinelli of Italy.
Cunningham, hoping to improve on her 2011 microweight bronze medal, will first face Andreea Musca of Belgium.
Jamaica's male microweight, Ackeem Lawrence, enjoys a bye to the second round, where he will face either Titus Durojalye of the United States or Gabriel Morales Magnum of Norway.