THE biennial ITF Taekwon-Do World championships was held in Benidorm, Spain last week, when 1054 black belts from 58 countries, competed for the title of World Champion across the four disciplines, writes Seamus Hayes.
Kilkishen-based Louise McCagh from Shannon Taekwon-Do Club become the fourth individual senior champion from this country and the first ever female winner of a senior title. This marvellous achievement followed wins over Ornella Bustos (Argentina), Andrea Engdahl (Norway), Petra Mucsy (Hungary), Joanna Paprocka (Three time world champion and 8 time European champion from Poland) and Ilona Omiecinska (Poland).
Joanne Potter and Nicole Moriarty of Quin Taekwon-Do Club along with Skye Slattery from Shannon TKD were both part of the junior ladies team who were crowned the best ladies team at the world championships. The trio took gold in the team pattern event, where they beat opposition from Italy, USA, Spain and Norway.
Joanne was part of the Junior team which won gold in the team sparring category where they beat opposition from Poland, Slovenia and Germany to take first place.
In individual events Nicole, who is the current World Cup champion in junior female patterns, was hotly tipped to take the world title coming into this event. She performed extremely well in the early rounds but was eventually beaten by the finalist form Argentina. Joanne and Skye, both competing on the Irish national team for the first time, performed well in sparring individually but did not reach the medal positions.
Also competing in the ITF World Championships were; Stephen Ryan (Quin Taekwon-Do Club), who won silver in the last World Championships in New Zealand, as well as Jamie Williams (Shannon Taekwon-Do Club) who is the current European silver medallist. Stephen went all the way to the quarter finals in his individual category beating off Spain and Argentina before losing out to Phillipe Parent from Canada who went on to the final where he lost to now 6 times world champion, Jarek Suska from Poland. Jamie, meanwhile was unlucky to lose out to his first round opponent from Brazil, after the head judge decided a decisive 3 point score landed after the bell.
Irish teams have participated in World championships every two years since Oklahoma in 1978 but never with such distinction. Ireland placed second overall of 58 countries with 10 Gold, 6 Silver and 11 Bronze medals, just behind Poland (who had 3 more gold medals). Clare instructors Adrian Byrne (Shannon) and Stephen Ryan (Quin) were key members of the coaching panel behind this national team success. Special mention must also go to Quin Taekwon-Do instructor, Laura Ryan who travelled as the team manager for the national team and did trojan work in the background to make sure the event ran as smoothly as possible for the entire squad.