Jamaica Combined team gets due reward
Ainsley Walters, Sunday Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA's combined martial arts team members, four tae kwon do and two karate fighters, were proud recipients of a special award, Team Category, at the recent RJR National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards Ceremony.
The country's flag bearers in martial arts, the combined team members won adult black belt team-sparring gold at last August's International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Cup held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
It was the first time Jamaica had ever won the prestigious title at the ITF world level, beating powerhouses Canada and Argentina, a feat which the RJR Sports Foundation was moved to recognise by honouring the team members among the country's finest athletes.
Founder and former captain of the combined team, now fighter-manager, Jason McKay, said he felt "unbridled pride" watching the team receive its award.
"Winning team-fighting gold at the ITF World Cup is, without doubt, the greatest ever accomplishment of the team and will probably be the hardest to replicate," McKay told The Sunday Gleaner.
The martial arts veteran credited cooperation among various disciplines for the team's historic achievement.
The combined team holds many international martial arts accolades in team fighting, including 58 unbeaten matches achieved on almost every continent. Among the team's successes are the Tri-Asian Championships and International Sports Karate Association Continental US Open.
Difference with teams
"However, we had never before won an ITF world team medal. The difference with this team is that it was the first ITF world tournament Jamaica had entered as a team of combined disciplines, which is allowed in the World Cup but not at the World Championships, thus the talent of Scott Wright from Ningen Karate," McKay explained.
Wright fought alongside Olympian Kenneth Edwards, a Ningen and Jamaica tae kwon-do fighter, in the team comprising captain Nicholas Dusard, Ackeem Lawrence, Adrian Moore and Daron Harrison of Jamaica Taekwon-Do.
Dusard described the feeling as "awesome" being on stage the night Jamaica recognised sporting excellence.
"It's awesome. I feel honoured. I am just happy that our hard work is being recognised by the national body. The Sportsman and Sportswoman Awards Ceremony in Jamaica is almost like being the Sportsman or Sportswoman of the world.
"It's just for us to see this as the cake and go for the icing at the World Champs, a notch up from the World Cup. It's being held in Europe in May and will have a larger European contingent. To win that one will prove we are the best in the world," Dusard said.