New Zealand snap Ja's unbeaten run
New Zealand, led by multi-discipline world champion Carl van Roon, yesterday snapped Jamaica's unbeaten run in team-fighting to dethrone the International Sports Karate Association Gold Cup champions at the United States Open in Orlando, Florida.
New Zealand emerged leaders on points, 14-13, ahead of Jamaica and Russia, 5, after a round-robin, before beating the defending champions, 6-5, in a close final.
It was Jamaica's first loss in eight finals since the Gold Cup started in 2006 and first defeat in team-fighting since 2004.
Van Roon said he plotted Jamaica's defeat for years, targeting point man Kenneth Edwards, who lost twice to the Kiwis' Riley Phillips-Harris, including the last bout of the final with the defending champions leading 4-3 after two fights.
"Riley was prepared with Kenneth in mind," a happy Van Roon said after the match.
"Riley and I studied Kenneth's style and it was great to come out and get a win against him," he said.
Nicholas Dusard wiped out Joshua Campbell 4-0 in the first fight of the final. Van Roon used his vast experience and skills to beat Jamaica combined martial arts team newcomer, Richard Stone, 3-0, to pull his team back into contention.
Edwards, who lost 1-3 in two fights against Phillips-Harris, round-robin and final, said he was not surprised by the 21-year-old's skills.
"We were hearing good things about him from the ITF World Championship in Argentina. He's a good athlete and kept his composure against me," he said.
New Zealand's coach, Mark Trotter, was ecstatic.
"This is our fourth time here and first time winning the title against Jamaicans like Kenneth and Nicholas, our long-term competitors. It was a really close match, one point," he noted.
Jamaica's martial artists will again be in action today and tomorrow in individual bouts, as well as team-fighting at the US Open, the biggest martial arts open tournament in the world.
Fighters from Kingston Taekwon-Do, First Zendo Karate, First Generation Rising Sun Karate, Ningen Karate, Future Leaders Karate and Jamaica Seido are aiming to surpass 88 medals won last year.