Edwards living his dream
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
MARTIAL ARTIST Kenneth Edwards pulled off a rare accomplishment at the recent RJR National Sportsman and Sportswoman Awards ceremony.
The Olympian was twice called to the stage to accept awards - for being among the six-man team that won adult black belt team-fighting gold at the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Cup and for not losing a bout in Jamaica's historic golden run.
Edwards has been on the national awards' stage before. In 2013, he was recognised as tae kwon do's Sportsman of the Year 2012, after being the first Jamaican to compete in the sport at the Beijing Olympics.
However, that award, he said, though very important, does not carry the same weight as anchoring Jamaica to ITF World Cup gold on home soil, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, last August.
"I feel very privileged, having won the award of tae kwon do Sportsman of the Year 2012, and now being awarded twice in one night," said the 29-year-old.
"The World Cup was a very special moment for me, to be there for my team. I was out of competition for a while and I had to lead by example. None of us had won individual gold, and it was our last chance at home," Edwards added.
RALLY TO VICTORY
Edwards' sterling performance, reversing his individual quarter-final loss against Argentina and rallying Jamaica to victory over the powerful South Americans, did not go unnoticed, leading to being singled out for a special award by the RJR Sports Foundation.
"To be recognised by one's country, especially Jamaica, is not easy. I don't want to repeat where I read what team captain Nicholas Dusard had said, paraphrasing Sportsman of the Year, Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters, but to earn recognition in Jamaica is like an international award. Jamaicans are not easy to please," he said.
Edwards said 2015 will be geared towards preparing for Rio 2016, his second shot at Olympic glory after bowing out in the 80kg preliminary round against China's Liu Xiaob.
"It will be all about qualifying for Rio. I recently got a scholarship from the International Olympic Committee, through the Jamaica Olympic Association, to aid in my preparations. It's a monetary scholarship to cover my monthly expenses," he explained.