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Wanliss in a historic gold strike
TWENTY-YEAR-old Mon-tegonian, Alrick Wanliss, created Jamaican taekwondo history yesterday when he won black belt gold in the microweight division at the third International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) World Cup in Riva Del Garda, Italy.
On the fourth day of competition at the October 15-20 tournament, the biggest ever taekwondo tournament with more than 1,000 competitors, Wanliss maintained Jamaicas feel-good mood, which started with the Beijing Olympics and continued with World Cup qualifying football victories over Mexico and Honduras this past week.
Jamaicas lone microweight representative, Wanliss improved significantly on the bronze medal he won at the 2006 World Cup in Spain by beating Polands Amit Batra in a hotly-contested final, which went to overtime.
Getting through rounds
On his way to the final, the soft-spoken Montegonian first got past experienced New Zealander Mark Trotter before taking on an Argentinian.
His next bout was against Ukraines Maxim Tkachenko before his bruising battle with Batra. who he tackled with a game plan carefully laid down by coach Claude Chin.
Based on his performance in New York at the North American and Caribbean Championships, when he competed in the light-weight category and was beaten by teammate Nicholas Dussard in the final, I knew he had a good shot at gold, said Chin. I knew he would have faced a European in the final and I started working on a different tactic for him to work with his lead leg.
What I found out is that the Europeans have a hard task getting away from the lead leg. They tend to attack and if you keep them from attacking you can get them off.
The Polish guy was very good, Chin said. Im not taking anything away from him because it was a draw after two rounds and the fight was decided in overtime.
Martial arts has grown rapidly to become one of Jamaicas most successful sports with the combined team successfully defending its world continental team fighting cham-pionship at the United States Open.
Bruce McFarlane and Omar Rose are defending world seido champions, in addition to the countrys exploits in International Sport Karate Association events, among other arts.
Jamaica first started attending international taekwondo tourna-ments in 1988 at the Pan Am and World Championships.
However, it took more than 20 years of tireless competition by the countrys veterans before black belt gold was won by Dussard at the recent Pan Am Champs in Brazil, followed by Wanliss win on the world stage yesterday.