Multiple medals for combined team in Olympic-style fighting

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May 02, 2017

Jamaica's combined martial arts team recently made a successful return to World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Olympics-style fighting, flying home with a medal-laden squad from the Ultimate Taekwon-Do Challenge in New Jersey.

The Jamaicans, most of whom are traditionally International Taekwon-Do Federation fighters (ITF), made the transition with ease to sweep the tournament for which they were prepared by Master Alvin Bernard.

Sheckema Cunningham, Subrina Richards, Donald Francis, Nicholai Reid, Trevor Webb Jr, Akino Lindsay, Richard Stone, Adrian Moore, and Tyrique Tai-Loy all won gold for the combined team, which hadn't fought WTF style since a stand-off locally with the Jamaica Taekwondo Federation (JTF) involving fighter Nicholas Dusard.

Other members of the touring party medalled in ITF fighting - Ackeem Lawrence and Marissa Jones won silver whereas Ricardo Lewis won a bronze.

Cunningham, one of Jamaica's top-rated female martial artists, said she enjoyed the experience.

"It was rough, two two-minute rounds. It was a very good experience, I enjoyed it, the very first time I was fighting that style.

EASY TO SCORE

"It is easy to score points and win because it's sensors, you don't have to depend on the judges to win. However, your opponent can either catch or pass you easily because each kick is two points and a kick to the head, three.

"Additionally, if you get a warning, your opponent gains a point, also if you fall to the ground, which also brings a warning, so it shows how quickly your opponent can catch or pass, if you're leading," Cunningham pointed out.

Jason McKay, who travelled as coach with Claude Chin, described the experience as the combined team's "official re-introduction" to WTF-style fighting, but pointed out that a rift still exists with the JTF, the WTF's local governing body, which is aligned to the Jamaica Olympic Association.

-A.W.

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