Surprise call for females
A LATE surprise invitation from Vietnam will see Jamaica's female combined martial arts team, the McKay Lady Knights, taking on their Asian counterparts on March 20 at the Tri-Asian Championship in Ho Chi Minh City.
The female team, comprising Campion College's Tashauna Grannum of Jamaica Tae kwon do and the Future Leaders pair of captain Sheckema Cunningham and Danielle Chang, was preparing to compete on the Pan Am circuit this season.
However, the girls' training has been ramped up for what is expected to be stiffer competition in Vietnam.
Coach Jason McKay agreed the girls will face tougher opponents than they did on their victorious debut match last August against Trinidad and Tobago, but said the opportunity was too good to pass up.
"Certainly, it is far too early to face such an opposition, but when an opportunity like this comes up you have to grab it with both hands. Despite overwhelming odds, I think the girls can pull it off," he said.
Formed early last August, the girls got past Trinidad and Tobago for an historic debut victory.
They were in training for Pan Am competition early this season before travelling as part of Jamaica's squad to July's International Sports Karate Association United States Open in Orlando, Florida, as well as a match against the United States national tae kwon do team in September.
McKay said the competition in Vietnam would be a better opportunity for the girls ahead of their dates in the US this year, instead of embarking on a Caribbean tour.
"We will still be competing at the US Open in July, as well as taking on the US national team in September," McKay pointed out.
The Jamaican male team is considered by many to be the most successful local martial arts team of all time, with a run of 34 unbeaten matches over five years, beating the likes of Japan, China, Argentina, Poland and the United States.
The teams leave March 16 and return March 22.