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Juniors, high schools fight for honours
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA's top junior martial artists square off today at the third annual McKay Security Junior Taekwondo Championship and Senior Black Belt Invitational set for the University of Technology.
The Junior Championship will feature coloured and junior black belts, ages six to 18, from the island's top martial arts schools, competing in patterns, sparring and team sparring, from ages six to 18, male and female.
In addition to various schools such as Jamaica Taekwondo, Future Leaders, Jamaica Seido and Zendo, other new arts which have become popular locally will also be featured.
One of the top attractions at the tournament is the high schools competition featuring Cornwall, Calabar, Kingston College, Wolmer's and Jamaica College.
Calabar, who have dominated team sparring, is expected to face a significant challenge from Jamaica College with the addition of national fighter Dominic Young to their squad.
Young will give a significant advantage to what was a mediocre team, which had potential but failed to rise to the challenge.
Meanwhile, the McKay Security black belt invitational features the top four fighters in each division from the Busta League series. The invitees were chosen based on top performances at the Jamaica Seido Open and Busta Jamaica Taekwondo Open.
Top names include the who's who of the combined martial arts team. They are expected to face strong challenges from a trio of Future Leaders fighters, including lightweight Nigel Gardener and middleweight Dwayne Vascianne.
A new fighter will be selected as the invitational fighter of the year to accompany the combined team to the Caribbean Games in Cuba this December and the US Open in July, in addition to being fully sponsored for all local Busta League tournaments for the 2009 season.
Interestingly, any new fighter topping a division would earn enough points to unseat longstanding combined team veteran Dwayne Brown, who only has five points and occupies 10th spot in combined team standings.
However, it is highly unlikely for a newcomer to win a division going up against the likes of World Cup gold medallist Alrick Wanliss and Nicholas Dussard, the Pan-Am champion, in lightweight, in addition to Omar Rose and Arthur Barrows in middleweight, along with world silver medallist Kenneth Edwards and former Seido world champion Bruce McFarlane among the heavyweights.
The women's division is perhaps the most competitive with Seido veteran Betty Salmon going up against Zendo's Karyll Bennett, last year's Busta League champion and current leader, Sheckema Cunningham, who appears unbeatable this year.