Excitement, honour and gratitude. This is what we, ICUTKD, experienced last weekend at the BSTF Student Taekwondo National Championships. Not only did we bring eight golds, six silvers and eight bronze medals home, but many other surprises awaited us.
Friday, 9th of March. Half past four in the afternoon. After a day of lectures, we were ready for a five-hour trip to Worcester, or that was what we thought. It did not take long until all of us fell asleep in the minibus. Certainly, it had been a long week of training and deadlines. In the morning of the competition, there was much to look forward to. However, this time the tournament was not the only cause, but more importantly our reunion with Ilias Konstantinou, our former ICUTKD secretary, who moved out last term. In spite of the distance, he has continued supporting, aiding and taking care of us. At the end of the day, Taekwondo is not about the belt or the medals, but about what you learn and take away from it. For me, that is the sense of family in the club.
“Taekwondo is not about the belt or the medals, but about what you learn and take away from it”
The remaining morning, time flew by between rounds and rounds of poomsae, the pattern discipline of this martial art. A noteworthy effort of participants and instructors led to a total of four gold, one silver, and three bronze medals in Individual Patterns and Freestyle, obtained by: Junling Ong (A-class Freestyle), Bryan Chong (A-class Individual), Huey Shan Tey and Joon-Ho Son (B-class Individual) -gold-; Menghan Liu (B-class Individual) -silver- and Junling Ong, Wenbo Chen (A-class Individual); Andrew Bates (C-class Individual) -bronze- and Cynthia Ho, who got 5th place out of 28 competitors. Moreover, all our poomsae pairs/teams climbed the podium, achieving one gold (Junling and Bryan, A-class), two silvers (Huey Shan and Joon-Ho, B-class and Andrew and Pilar Zhang, C-class) and one bronze (Fatima Khan, Angela Sun and Wenbo, A-class). All these results led ICUTKD to become the National Student Poomsae Champions, with the best team within UK in this category.
However, our thirst for battle didn´t end there. The following day – Sunday, 11th – our sparring competitors joined us. We couldn´t lose, we wanted to meet the expectations of our instructors and coaches, to make them proud. And so we did. Our fighters did not give up and fought until the referee announced the end of the game. Not even technical issues stopped us. Just ask Huey Shan, who had to fight her final twice, emerging victorious each time. Nevertheless, she was not the only one to win gold. A total of three golds, three silvers and four bronzes were achieved in total. These were awarded to: Simonne Griffith-Jones, Sojin Park (A-class) and Huey Shan Tey (B-class) for gold; Wenbo Chen (A-class), Menghan Liu (B-class) and Sharmila Rana (C-class) for silver; and Angela Sun (A-class), Ilias Konstantinou, Sophia Ppali (B-class) and Jennifer Wang (C-class) for bronze.
At the end of Nationals, the overall UK Student Taekwondo rankings were released. Our team came 2nd overall in UK, beating teams of more than twice our size, and most importantly: 1st in the Indomitable ranking. The latter evaluates points per player, which is a better measurement of a team’s quality.
“We might be a small team, but you can be certain that we will grow stronger and stronger each year and reach new heights”
Prominent amongst these is the Master Suh award, with which our Vice-Chair – Bryan Chong – was honoured for his exceptional and continuous service to the British Student Taekwondo Federation (BSTF) this year. We are proud and thrilled to see his hard work being recognised. Not only is he a tireless Vice-president and Taekwondo Ambassador but is always looking after our club members.
But of course, achieving 2nd place in the UK overall ranking and becoming UK Poomsae and Indomitable Champions would never have been possible without all our instructors, coaches, alumni and members. We might be a small team, but you can be certain that we will grow stronger and stronger each year and reach new heights.