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New Zealand wins Bronze WTF Para-Taekwondo Championships

8 Jul. 2013 Posted by Garry Carpenter


4th WTF Para-Taekwondo World Championships 
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 8, 2013
Jason Whitcombe (Athlete) & Tim Urquhart (Coach) 

June 7 
Our trip had been going well until the day we left Paris for Lausanne. First the metro broke down and then the taxi driver took us to the wrong train station, - lost in translation. Lesson learned. Show them on the map, and don’t trust your pronunciation! By the time we got to the right train station we had missed our train by some 3 minutes, so had to purchase new tickets and wait four hours for the next one. Arrived in Lausanne at 8pm and easily found our hotel (thankfully).

June 8 
Arrived at the venue at 8am and watched the start of the Swiss Open. It was a buzz to recognise some of the athletes and coaches from the London Olympics, (as seen on TV). 

There were a total of 82 competitors at the World Para-Taekwondo Championships. 65 males and 17 females from 25 countries, with 19 divisions being contested. The tournament is open to red belts up with the divisions being based on disability, gender, and weight (Olympic weight divisions). There is no distinction by belt. 

Previously the A5 & A6 disability divisions had been combined, as with the A7 & A8 divisions, making for more competitors in each division. In this year’s tournament the disability divisions were not combined, making the divisions smaller. The tournament was single elimination with bronze medals awarded to the losers of the two semi-finals. 

I was competing in the A6 +80kg division (one arm amputated above the elbow), which had five competitors (Azerbaijan, Russia, Israel, Mexico, and New Zealand). The draw saw Israel and I progress straight into the semi-finals. 

Russia drew Mexico, with Russia going into the semi-final against Israel, and which Russia won to advance to the final. I drew Azerbaijan (defending world champion) and was beaten 5-1. Azerbaijan went on to beat Russia 3-2 in the final to become a double world champion. 

Unfortunately, due to breaking my wrist three months before the tournament, the lack of hard sparring leading up to the tournament showed. If you wish to compete at a higher level you need all the hard sparring you can get (tournaments and club trainings). 

Russia was the overall top male team, Azerbaijan 2nd and Turkey 3rd. The top female team was Turkey, followed by Russia and Azerbaijan. 

The most inspiring thing for me at the tournament was seeing the 11 athletes with no arms out on the mat sparring. 

Apart from the disappointment of losing my match, the only issue for me was that the competitor from Azerbaijan still had two complete arms. He did have lack of movement in his right arm, but still had enough movement to block. In the end it felt like I sparred against an able-bodied person. 

I had a fantastic trip and am looking forward to representing New Zealand again in 2015. 

First and foremost a huge thank you to Tim Urquhart, for putting one hand up and the other in his wallet to be the my coach. And to the TNZ High Performance Director for Kyorugi, Master Kesi for his advice, encouragement, and training sessions at his club, and for the kiwi t-shirts, which were worn with pride. To Grandmaster Kim for supporting and enabling me to represent New Zealand, to Garry Carpenter (club instructor) for his advice and pushing me hard during club trainings, and sparking my interest in the tournament back when I was a yellow belt. Lastly, and most importantly, to my son Joshua, for sacrificing father/son time so I could train.