Sunday 18th November saw 14 members of Imperial College Union Taekwondo (ICUTKD) competing in the nationwide Autumn Championships and London University Sports League (LUSL) in East London.
The team brought back three gold, three silver and seven bronze medals.
ICUTKD travelled as a team from Notting Hill Gate to Jean Brown Indoor Sports Arena at dawn for registration and weigh-in.
Regardless of level of experience everyone was nervous (and hungry).
After waiting in the team fort for what felt like hours, the competition began. It was time to show what they had prepared for weeks!
This was the first of three league national student taekwondo competitions for the academic year. The scale of the competition had grown, newly consisting of World Taekwondo (WT) and International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) patterns from this year.
In addition to this was the annual WT sparring.
Also new this year for the club was an exciting opportunity to take over the Imperial College Instagram account on the day.
With the team were four coaches and other students from the club, who supported each and every patterns performance and fights.
From the first poomsae there was a crowd of familiar faces cheering. Some highlights with outstanding performance in patterns came from Lucy Lei (silver), Andrew Bates (silver) and Cynthia Ho (bronze) from C class, and Wenbo Chen (bronze) and Bryan Chong (gold) from A class.
After a short break, there was an adrenaline rush as competition draws were up on the wall.
Once again, members gathered to cheer outside the ring for every kick thrown.
We were especially delighted to have the opportunity to enter ITF practitioners into the competitions.
Wenbo Chen, Angela Sun, Fatima Khan and Savya Arggawal all brought back bronze medals.
Many fighters had more than one round and refuelled vigorously in breaks.
Nick Hyunh (gold) and Johnny Kim (gold) were exhausted by the end of the day, having won all three rounds.
Special thanks to Johnny who returned to compete as an alumnus representing Imperial.
Thomas Kloska (bronze), a beginner in taekwondo, competed in both WT poomsae and sparring.
Claire Tjokrowidjaja (bronze), competed in both ITF and WT sparring for the first time!
We applaud everyone in the club for competing regardless of gaining a medal.
Competing provides an amazing chance to learn about everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, which are addressed in further training.
Many thanks to club volunteers and to our coaches who spend extraordinarily large proportion of their time for us.
For readers who are unfamiliar to the amazing sports that is taekwondo, it is a Korean martial arts that has been a part of the Olympics since 2000.
Student competitions by British Student Taekwondo Federation (BSTF) are open to all students and alumni of all levels (A, B, C class), including all genders, background and experience.
Sparring is then categorised by gender and weight.
Points can be scored with kicks to the head, body and punches, with a bonus for spinning kicks.
A class WT sparring uses electronic equipment, as done in international competitions.
These are all under the careful supervision of the central referee and corner judges to guarantee fair scoring.
Historically, November was when the Imperial College Open (ICO) was held, which has been organised by ICUTKD from 2012. The aim was to introduce more taekwondo competitions in the academic year. ICO was the only national competition organised by students and started on our home ground in Ethos. The popularity grew exponentially.
After five years of successful consecutive student-led competitions, the BSTF stepped in to help in 2017.
Now, what was ICO has been incorporated into a series of league championships.
Although we are no longer part of the organising team, we are proud to have reached our initial goal of expanding opportunities for students to compete.
ICUTKD was ranked 4th overall from the Autumn Championship out of 34 universities.
Every hour practising, training and controlling weight was worth it.
Next, we will travel to Nottingham on 17th February for another day of fierce competition.
We will do our best to continue training hard and representing our university.
Equally importantly, we will continue having fun, supporting each other and pushing ourselves to our limits!