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Dussard wins historic Pan-Am gold
Ainsley Walters, Freelance Reporter
IT has finally happened.
Nicholas Dussard, the 18-year-old Wolmers' Boys student, on Saturday created local martial arts history by winning Jamaica's first ever International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) senior gold medal by taking the lightweight title at the Pan-Am Games in Florianopolis, Santa Catrina, Brazil.
Dussard, who won the Interna-tional Sports Karate Association (ISKA) United States Open black belt junior title in Orlando last July, ended decades of Jamaica's failure to win a senior ITF gold medal in his first attempt.
Unseeded, the Jamaican teenager went through four gruelling bouts, facing opponents from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay before defeating a Brazilian rival in the final.
Dussard's victory, according to the captain of Jamaica's combined martial arts team, Jason McKay, stunned the packed auditorium.
Each fight consisted two rounds lasting two minutes each and it was the first time the ITF was using electronic points recording system in a major tournament in the region.
McKay, who has always hit out against the officiating at international tournaments, said the new system was instrumental in ensuring a fair fight for the underdog Dussard and vindicated his arguments about faulty scoring.
Dussard, who was awarded the Prime Minister's Youth Award for excellence in sports three years ago, was elated at his achievement.
"I am ecstatic," said the teen, who added the senior Pan-Am gold to a junior title he had won in Paraguay in 2004.
"It represents my greatest achievement to date in my career, to win an adult black belt gold medal, an ITF gold, the one which many greats before me were unable to achieve," he added.
Jamaica's coach, Claude Chin, said hard work paid off for Dussard.
"As I said before, I would have been greatly disappointed if he had not won gold.
"We did everything according to plan and I have no doubt, come October, in Italy, he will be the World Cup champion as well," said Chin, pointing out that Dussard could have easily won an ITF world junior gold medal last July in Quebec, Canada, but was pulled from the squad to concentrate on external examinations.