World Championships Report
World Championships, Mar Del Plata, Argentina, 26th- 30th Nov
On Sunday the 22nd November 2009, a squad of 31 competitors along with coaches Mr. Stephen Cooley, Mr. Paul Delea, Mr. Niall Jones, Mr. Alan Troy, Mr. Adrian Byrne and team manager Mr. Ken Leahy met up at Dublin airport to head for Mar Del Plata, Argentina for the 10th Junior World Championship and the 16th Senior World Championship. The squad left from Dublin on Sunday morning for the long journey which comprised of a flight to Madrid, a six hour stopover, then a 12 hour flight to Buenos Aires followed by a 5 hour bus trip to Mar Del Plata, finally arriving at around 6pm on Monday.
Arriving a few days before the start of the tournament was vital in the Irish team’s preparations and allowed the competitors to become acclimatised to the hot 25 degree conditions under which they would have to compete during the tournament. The squad trained in a local gym on Tuesday for 2 sessions, 1 session Wednesday morning & a session in the arena in which the championships would be held on Wednesday afternoon, which allowed a good chance to see the layout of hall before the start of tournament.
On Thursday morning, competitors got on the bus at 7:15am for the short 20 minute bus journey to the stadium, the first morning kicked off with individual patterns and individual special technique. Newlands Taekwon-Do instructor Mr. Stephen Smullen was competing in the Senior Male 3rd Degree patterns section, drawn against a competitor from Chile, Mr. Smullen performed Choi Yong as an Optional pattern and was given Sam Il as a designated pattern but went out to a strong Chilean. Notable performances on the first morning came from Louise McCagh from Shannon who won bronze in the Junior Female 2nd degree patterns section and from Mr. Hong Looi who was narrowly defeated by Mr. Jaroslaw Suska (17 time European Champion & 4 time World Champion) from Poland in the latter rounds of the senior male 4th – 6th degree section.
On Thursday afternoon the events continued with Team Patterns, the Irish Senior Team were up on the raised centre ring with high expectations entering the World Championships as the current European team pattern champions. The team performed well and won a bronze medal after being defeated by the eventual winners Poland in the Semi final, the Junior Female team pattern team repeated this success also taking bronze. The final Irish medal for the first day came once again from Louise McCagh winning silver in junior female special technique.
Competitors had the morning of day 2 to relax, the tournament started at 1.30 with more special technique and the junior individual sparring taking place, with the Irish juniors performed well in their categories
The events of day 3 were the senior sparring and the remainder of the junior sparring divisions, Irish competitors once again fought extremely well with Louise McCagh once again medalling, this time in the Junior Female -55kg sparring after many tough rounds of sparring picking up a silver medal narrowly beaten by a Polish competitor in the final. Day 3 also saw two new World Champions for Ireland, Mr. Luke Woods from Rivervalley TKD winning the Senior -63kg section defeating Switzerland, Poland, Canada, Netherlands and Russia along the way and Dylan Fitzgibbon from Cork winning the Junior -63kg section. There were other good sparring performances from Mr. Hong Looi in the Senior -71kg section defeating a strong Argentinean fighter among others on his way to the quarter final before narrowly being defeated by the Brazilian competitor after an extra round, and also from Mr. Jonathan Dargan in the Senior +80kg section once again being narrowly defeated by the Argentinean in the quarter final.
Luke Woods, World Champion
The final day of the championships consisted solely of team events. The Irish senior male team being drawn against Bolivia in the first round while their junior counterparts were drawn against Paraguay. The senior team were up first and beat Bolivia 3-0 with wins from Mr. Stephen Ryan, Mr. Stephen Smullen and Mr. Jamie Rigney. Next up was England with Ireland once again progressing after a 3-1 victory, this win meant Ireland were through to the quarter finals and were due to fight Slovenia, a team with 2 individual European Champions. Mr. Luke Woods and Mr. Stephen Ryan put Ireland 2-0 up before Slovenia pulled 2 back and with the teams tied at 2-2 Mr. Hong Looi faced off against Mr. Ales Zjemlic, current -80kg European Champion, Mr. Hong Looi won the fight allowing Ireland to progress to the Semi Final against Argentina. After an exciting 4 fights it finished 3-1 to Argentina who went on to claim Gold with the Irish team taking a hard-earned, well-deserved Bronze. This success was repeated by the junior male team who picked up bronze after being narrowly defeated by eventual winners Italy.
The excellent performances of the Irish teams was capped off in the team power sections where the junior team were tied at the top with New Zealand with both teams breaking the boards in the tie breaker the umpires judged Ireland to have taken an extra step in their approach to the break leaving them with silver. The senior male team narrowly missed out on the medals once again judged to have taken an extra step in the approach to the side kick meaning that despite breaking 4 boards no points were awarded!
After a long return trip the team returned home on December 2nd with a hugely impressive haul of 11 medals; 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 6 Bronze. The success of this campaign can be highlighted by the fact that the team medalled in all disciplines which is testament to the preparation which went in by the coach and management team and the competitors alike.
The list of medals were as follows:
- Gold; Luke Woods, Senior -63kg Sparring
- Gold; Dylan Fitzgibbon, Junior -63kg Sparring
- Silver; Junior Male Team Power (Marlon Forde, Dylan Fitzgibbon, David Kilcoyne, David Lynch, Matthew Troy)
- Silver; Louise McCagh, Junior Female -55kg Sparring
- Silver; Louise McCagh, Junior Female Special Technique
- Bronze; Senior Male Team Pattern (Stephen Ryan, Jamie Rigney, Adrian Byrne, Daniel Dillon, Hong Keat Looi)
- Bronze; Junior Female Team Pattern (Louise McCagh, Naomi Coonghe, Sarah Lehane, Megan O'Leary, Tara Murphy)
- Bronze; Senior Male Team Sparring (Stephen Ryan, Luke Woods, Hong Keat Looi, Jamie Rigney, Jonathan Dargan, Stephen Smullen)
- Bronze; Louise McCagh, Junior Female 2nd Dan Patterns
- Bronze; Louise McCagh, Junior Female Power Breaking
- Bronze; Junior male team sparring (Dylan Fitzgibbon, Karl Hynes, Shane Kearns, David Lynch, Michael O'Keefe, Matthew Troy)
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