Nearly 400 athletes plus coaches, officials and supporters will be in Tauranga this weekend for the 2016 ITKD Taekwon-Do National Championships and Oceania Invitational.
The tournament will be held 9-10 July at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Stadium with competitors coming from around the country and Australia. The first ITF Taekwon-Do national championships was held in Palmerston North in 1981
New Zealand is the current world champion nation and a large number of the world championship medals will be taking part in Tauranga to gain valuable competition prior to the world cup in Budapest, Hungary or to check their progress towards the world championships next year.
Stars of the tournament and world champs are athletes such as teenager Frances Lloyd a 1stt Dan from the Silla Club in Tauranga who was the best overall junior at the world champs and a real prospect for the sport for many years to come. The same goes for Maddison Black from Tauranga who won a bronze in the junior specialty in Italy last year.
Melissa Timperley from Counties Manukau is a 4th Dan. She may be nicknamed ‘Mouse’ but she has one of the best reverse heel kicks in the world and has the medals to show for it. She recently became a teacher but still plans to continue her Taekwon-Do at a high level internationally. From East Auckland is Roisin Gilles a gold medallist in the 1st Dan Patterns.
There’s a strong Maori and Pacific Island representation in the champs with a growing number of participants each year. Wesley Filiki from Naenae won a gold medal in the world championships and is a sight to see when he winds up and destroys the boards with either his fist or his feet. Filiki is one of large number of competitors from the Central Region which also includes top competitors Matt Bowden and Kayla Walton.
Christchurch has experienced competitors such as former world champ medallist Kris Herbison a 4th Dan belt from the Riccarton club along with Helen Caley who is a multiple medallist at world championship level and trains out of the Pulse Club in Christchurch.
“It’s great to see such large numbers from around the country, plus Australia as well. So many of the athletes have been training so hard for this event. It will be great to see some of the up and comers compete against world champions,” said event organisor James Rimmer, who is also a Dan belt.
Thirty competitors will take part from the Paul M Papakura Club as the largest number of athletes from one club followed by the Hwa-Rang Tauranga club with 23 and then Porirua and Salton TKD Academy Horowhenua Branch both with 20. The age range for the weekend is from eight to 55 with the largest number of athletes coming from the Counties Manukau region. Australia are sending 14 athletes to compete in the tournament. Taekwon-Do is a sport where in most cases New Zealand dominates it’s Australian cousins.
Disciplines at the tournament include sparring, power breaking (board breaking), special techniques, patterns and team events.
New Zealand were the overall winners of the world championships in Italy last year, finished third in Spain two years early and prior to that were the championship team when the tournament was held in Wellington in 2011.