Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA's top medal prospects at the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Championships in Benidorm, Spain, yesterday suffered contrasting defeats on the first leg of their European tour.
New Zealand 2011 bronze medallist, Sheckema Cunningham, aggravated a left-ankle injury picked up in September and was literally ineffective at making her trademark kick off the back foot.
She crashed out in the first round and hobbled off the mat in pain and anguish at not being able to give of her best.
"This cost me my medal," she said, before her swollen ankle was extensively bandaged by medics.
Pan-Am champion Nicholas Dussard, on whose back much rode, made it past the first round for the first time at an ITF World Champs, but watched in bewilderment as old rival Julio Carlos of the United States scored two points early in the bout and thereafter avoided him for the entire second-round match.
Carlos, the two-time world lightweight champion, fought every bout - apart from Dussard - as the aggressor, dominating his opponents, before losing his title in the final to Britain.
The American's coach, William Perlaza, admitted that his fighter had no intention of facing up to Dussard.
"He has longer legs, so we stayed on the outside all the time," he said, before adding, "and counter-attacked".
The only counter-attack Carlos staged was when he cheekily scored an early point on Dussard, who said he had no idea of the American's intentions.
"I am very, very surprised," said the Jamaican, who had beaten Carlos as recently as September in the final of the Queens Open in New York, and also at the 2012 Pan-Am Games in Canada, to lift the lightweight title.
"Our mistake was going to New York three weeks ago and fighting him. I think he realised that, if he stood and fought me, similar to what had happened in New York would have happened, and he would have been beaten," he added.
"I watched all his fights and mine was the only one he didn't show any intention of sparring. That's how I know the mistake was made in New York," a disappointed Dussard pointed out.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Adrian Moore did himself proud by reaching the second round at his first World Champs.
However, he naively threw a chance at advancing to the third round - while tied on points - in the closing stages of his 70-kilos-and-under bout.
"Instead of waiting patiently and bouncing around to take the draw last five seconds, I went in and he scored," he said.
Jamaica still have a chance of medalling in Spain before jetting off to North Cyprus for the International Sport Kick-boxing Association's World Championships, October 29-November 3.
Microweight Ackeem Lawrence's division will be contested today, facilitating today's previously scheduled opening ceremony, which was brought forward to yesterday evening.