Over 400 athletes, plus coaches and officials are in Auckland this weekend for the 2017 ITKD Taekwon-Do National Championships.
The tournament will be held Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July at the AMI Netball Centre at St Johns, Auckland with competitors from all around the country as well as Australia.
It is the 36th ITF Taekwon-Do national championships, with the first tournament held in Palmerston North in 1981
There is special impetus on this year’s tournament as it is preparation for the world champions in Dublin in October where New Zealand is the current world champion nation. Team members will aiming to gain extra training and practice in Auckland in front of their coaches.
Potential stars of the tournament and the upcoming world champs included teenager Frances Lloyd a 1st Dan from the Silla Club in Tauranga who attends Tauranga Girls College was the best overall junior at the world champs as well as Alex Petrovich from Palmerston North another who excelled at the last world champs.
Melissa Timperley from Counties Manukau is a 4th Dan and already has several world championship medals to her credit and is one of many athletes who have been fundraising to pay to compete at the world champs.
One category which stands out as tough competition for a national title is the female senior dan power where there are a large number of entrants including four world championship team members; Niketa Wells, Roisin Giles, Angel McCreedy and Kara Timmer.
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 at the last world championships and is a title contending at breaking the boards with either his fist or his feet. Filiki will have strong competition from Taine Williams (Silla Club, Tauranga) and another world champs team member in Callum Woodill (International Taekwon-Do Riccarton, Christchurch).
The region with the largest number of competitors is Counties Manukau with 108 athletes, the majority from the Paul M Club. Auckland and the northern region has 101. Central Districts (including Waikato and Bay of Plenty) have 63, Midlands (including the Palmerston North stronghold of the Southern Cross TKD Academy club) have 40, Wellington 30, plus 24 from the South Island and Australia is sending 16 competitors.
Disciplines at the tournament include sparring, power breaking (board breaking), special techniques, patterns and team events. The 2017 ITKD Taekwon-Do National Championships starts at 9am on Saturday and Sunday 15 and 16 July.
ITF Taekwon-Do NZ also has a strong Kiwisport Program throughout schools around the Auckland region.