Wellington hasn’t seen the likes of it since it hosted the world champs in 2011, but Taekwon-Do NZ is back in the capital and is stronger and bigger than ever.
This weekend close to 400 martial arts athletes descend on Wellington for the 9th Oceania Championships and the New Zealand Taekwon-Do Championships, which has been held every year since the first in 1981. This year it is the turn of Wellington to host the tournament at the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie, 14-15 July.
Ages range from young teens to 50 +, with many families having multiple entrants. A large number of world champions are taking part as well. In fact the New Zealand team finished second at the world champs in Ireland last year, narrowly behind the hosts.
A total of 24 Australians have travelled across the Tasman to compete with the hope of gaining valuable competition prior to the world cup in September this year in Sydney.
One of the favourites to retain his title is Naenae’s Wesley Filiki from the Pil Sung Taekwon-Do Club. He is the double world champion power breaker and a cult hero in the sport around the world. Basically he can break anything with his hand or foot. His main competition to the national title is likely to come from Taine Williams who originally hails from Nelson as well Alex Petrovich who has been a former world junior champ from the Southern Cross TKD Academy in Palmerston North.
Wellington teen Kyla Walton from the Berhampore Club will also be a favourite. She won gold in the junior female power test in Ireland last year.
Other names to watch for include Canterbury duo Helen Caley and Kris Herbison as well as Auckland 17-year-old, Bianca Koper who is the world junior sparring champion.
There’s also Melissa Bray (nee Timperley) from the powerful Paul M Club in Papakura, Auckland who has been a world champion on more than one occasion along with Auckland’s Roisin Giles who won individual gold in the second Dan female pattern at the world champs.
Overall competition for the best province or region is always tight with Counties Manukau strong but Central Districts based around the Palmerston North Southern Cross TKD Academy.club is always close as will be Wellington as the hosts.
Competition starts at 8.30am Saturday and Sunday until 5pm at the ASB Sports Centre