Cunningham strikes gold in Stuttgart
JAMAICA's female combined martial arts team captain, Sheckema Cunningham, made history on Saturday in Stuttgart, Germany, winning gold at the International Sport Kickboxing Association's (ISKA) International German Open.
The Open is a German qualifier for the World Championships to be held in Stuttgart, May 2016.
Cunningham, the first Jamaican to medal at the historic tough European tournament, was the sole black female competitor among 1,700 fighters.
The toast of the preliminary rounds, Cunningham arrived in Stuttgart Friday night with coach Jason McKay. She shook off jet lag to win gold by beating German champion Kerstin Schmidbauer, 15-13, in an epic final.
"It was rough and the fighters were really good, but I was more aggressive and had my coach shouting me on, forcing me to take the fight to her," the relieved gold medallist told The Gleaner.
Victory in Stuttgart qualified Cunningham for the World Championship in Stuttgart next year.
An elated McKay said Cunningham's chances of taking gold at the World Championships were bright.
"She was clinical and showed great fighting spirit. She can take gold at the Worlds next year," he said.
Cunningham shone at the ISKA US Open in July, winning her three fights in leading Jamaica to a silver medal in the Gold Cup won by Germany.
Among her accolades is a bronze medal in sparring at the International Taekwon-Do Federation 2011 World Championships.