Dedicated training has paid off for young students at Bundaberg’s ASP Taekwondo martial arts school, netting them a swag of medals at the Sunshine Coast Open.
All seven students who contested the open at Caloundra last weekend recorded a dais finish, snaring four gold and three silver medals between them.
ASP Taekwondo head instructor Mitchell Archer said the team had exceeded his expectations and the results were a reward for the hard work his charges had put in at training this year.
“We are always happy with one or two gold medals just because the calibre of competition is so high,” Mitchell said of contesting major events such as the Sunshine Coast Open.
“I think, because we started so strong with our first two fighters won gold, that inspired the rest of them to push a bit more because, being kids, they want to keep up with their peers.
“All the hard training we’ve been doing paid off. We’ve recently doubled our sparring classes and doing a lot more rounds of fitness and that really came across in everyone’s performances.”
Adding more sheen to the performance was the fact that five of the young competitors were lining up in their first tournament.
Mitchell said he was proud of the way his debutants handled the challenge of making their first tournament appearances, particularly as it came at a major event featuring strong clubs from Queensland’s south-east corner.
“With your first tournament comes all the nerves and expectations (for participants), and the things that are outside of your control as a coach,” he said.
“You can’t tell them not to be nervous, you can’t tell them not to be anxious, so just getting through that first tournament is a big deal.
“Taekwondo in Queensland is mainly centralised around Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
“We’re the only club outside of those three hubs so for us to take seven students was a pretty good effort because a lot of the massive clubs down there had about 15.”
Mitchell said the two who got the team off to the medal-winning run, Bodhi Harris and Rubi Little, had been among the most nervous of his students ahead of their bouts.
“They love sparring but they were scared of the prospect of a tournament,” he said. “But once they got out on the mat, all of that fell away and they were able to perform.”
Bodhi, whose preparations for the tournament were overseen by his coach and stepfather Damian Mealor, claimed his gold medal in the in the boys’ yellow belt 8-9 years 19-22kg division and Rubi took out the girls’ yellow belt 8-9 years 34-38kg honours.
Other ASP Taekwondo Bundaberg students to win gold at Caloundra were Dayzi Jones (girls’ yellow belt, 10-11 years, 42-46kg) and Thenuri Weerasinghe (girls’ blue belt, 10-11 years, 31-34kg).
The gold medals for Dayzi and Rubi were not only pleasing for Mitchell as a coach but also as their older brother.
Joining the medal rush with silver were Eli Reed (boys’ yellow belt, 10-11 years, 34-38kg), Myles Haddon (boys’ blue belt, 10-11 years, 25-28kg) and Thanusi Weerasinghe, older sister of Thenuri, who was runner-up in the girls’ blue belt, 15-17 years, 55-59kg division.
Thenuri said an increased emphasis on her stamina training had helped her win her gold medal, enabling her to find the energy to get through two tight contests to secure the honour.
“The last time I fought I had no energy, I didn’t have stamina,” she said. “I’ve been running laps and we’ve been doing 12 rounds of sparring at training – all the hard work has been worth it.”
For Bodhi, the gold medal was a step towards the black belt he craves.
“If I keep training and do all of my gradings correctly, I will get to a black belt when I’m 11,” he said proudly.
Mitchell said the ASP Taekwondo martial arts school in Bundaberg had 50 senior and junior members and was in a re-growth phase after losing several senior members during last year’s COVID-19 restrictions period.
He hoped the young talent coming through painted a bright future for the school which was founded by Mario Rejtano in 2000 and added that prospective members were welcome to visit Bundaberg’s only Olympic style, World Taekwondo approved club.
“The first few lessons are free, and we offer family discounts,” he said. “It’s a fun environment so come and try it.”
For more information about ASP Taekwondo visit the school’s Facebook page or visit the clubhouse at 90 Princess Street, Bundaberg, after 4pm Monday to Thursday.
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