Ja juniors ready to light up US Open
JAMAICA’s junior fighters, building blocks of the island’s martial arts prowess, will again account for the bulk of the 55-strong contingent which coach Jason McKay will lead to the US Open International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) World Martial Arts Championships starting July 3 in Orlando, Florida.
Serial medallists at the annual US Open, the world’s biggest martial arts open, Jamaica’s juniors use the event as a springboard to eventually qualify for the combined martial arts team, many rising through the ranks after starting with the McKay Security Jamaica Taekwondo Association High School League.
This year, the likes of Jahvin Ashley, Ryan Robinson, and Troy Frith of St George’s College, joined by Jamaica College’s Daniel White, Shawn Anthony-Smith and Sharic Bowen, will be battling world-ranked junior fighters in multiple disciplines such as continuous, clash and points sparring.
Usually the toast of the US Open, Jamaica’s reputation at the event was built by former all-star juniors Ackeem Lawrence, Adrian Moore, Nicholas Dusard and Delano Francis, who have all since won adult world titles.
Lawrence, a Jamaica College past student, who will lead Jamaica’s squad, is the second captain to have emerged from the high-school tournament and US Open circuit and is the most decorated International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) fighter on Jamaica’s active roster, boasting a Pan Am gold, ITF World Cup bronze, and ISKA world titles.
The high-school programme has, over the years, involved many-time champions Calabar High, St George’s College, Kingston College, Wolmer’s Boys’ School, Cornwall College and Tarrant High School.