Wellington is set to be almost booked out over the next week with the 2011 World Taekwon-Do Championships coming to the city. Some of the 40 national teams totally around 1500 athletes, officials and supporters have already started arriving in Wellington and staying at 14 different hotels around the capital for the March 9-13 event which is to be held at the TSB Arena at the Queens Wharf Events Centre.
New Zealand is one of the best nations in the world at Taekwon-Do and will have around 500 athletes, officials and supporters at the World Champs.
New Zealand achieved its best ever result at the last World Championships in Argentina in 2009 where they placed second overall. The Kiwis won 13 gold medals and 32 medals in total. It is expected that Argentina and Poland will be two of the strongest nations to compete in Wellington.
One of the stars of the New Zealand team at the 2009 World Championships in Argentina was Auckland’s Karl Van Roon.
Van Roon is a four-time World Champion but he also keeps himself busy with modelling and acting including a spot in one of the Underworld movies and recently graduated from Auckland University with first class honours in sport and exercise science.
As the overall world champion in a sport which features sparring, special techniques(breaking of boards) and team power breaking Van Roon is aiming to win again.
“To compete in New Zealand is a bonus. It’s our home venue. Travelling the world is nice, but to make athletes from other nations come and compete here in the most prestigious event is huge for me and for the sport. I really want to win another gold medal,” says Van Roon.
While Van Roon is keen to gain medals, organisors are happy that the event will have such a big impact on the sport and Wellington itself.
“We’re so pleased to be able to host this major sporting event in Wellington. There are around 1,500 competitors, officials, and supporters coming from over 40 countries around the world to experience the very top level of Taekwon-Do,” said Nick Lourantos, Chairman for the World Taekwon-Do Championships.
“Our New Zealand team were second in Argentina at the last World Championships, so we can look forward to some great local success stories throughout the event. This is a chance for New Zealanders to see these top male and female athletes, and we’re offering some good deals through Ticketek.”
Taekwon-Do is the Korean art of self-defence and the world’s most popular martial art. It was first developed by a Korean Army General, Gen. Choi Hong Hi, in the 1950s and 1960s. “Tae” means to jump or kick with the foot; “Kwon” means to punch with the hand or fist; and “Do” means art or way. Wellington will be the 17th World Championships..
The sport in New Zealand has 3,000 members and almost 100 clubs throughout the country.
2009 World Championship website www.itfnewzealand2011.com