The ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships were held in Benidorm, Spain from the 23rd to the 27th of October. 1054 black belt competitors from 58 countries, all winners of national selection events, competed for the title of world champion across the four disciplines of Taekwon-Do. The Irish teams have competed at the world championships, which are held every two years, since the 1978 championships (Oklahoma) but never with such distinction, Ireland placed second overall out of 58 countries with 10 Gold, 6 Silver and 11 Bronze medals, leaving Ireland just behind Poland (13 Gold, 6 Silver and 8 Bronze).
The Irish delegation consisted of 48 competitors and 7 coaches/managers as well as 3 umpires. The achievements of the team as a whole were beyond the expectations of anyone outside the Irish camp; however the quality and potential of the team was evident, with very strong performances from our juniors at World Cup last October and successive European Championships over the past three years. In addition to this, the senior team has been reinvigorated recently with the addition of some very talented new seniors who have moved up from the junior ranks to join the already established international competitors. This contributed to the outstanding results at the world championship in the team events, particularly in sparring.
An Irish team had never won a team sparring event (junior or senior) at a World Championships prior to this year, however on this occasion all four Irish teams got to the medals. The junior-female team were first to take Gold, beating Germany in the final. The junior-male team quickly followed, beating a physically-larger Polish team in the final. The senior females progressed to the semi-final with wins against New Zealand and the USA but lost out to Poland, settling for bronze on this occasion before the highlight event of the championships saw the senior-male team of Norway pitted against the Irish. Ireland, having already come past Argentina, England & the Netherlands, took the match 9-5 underscoring the Irish dominance in this discipline.
Six individual World titles were claimed over the four days of competition. Ellen Ince of Killester took the world title in both sparring (Up to 50Kg) and 1st Dan Patterns, an achievement that also saw her win the title of Best Overall Junior Female competitor. Louise McCagh of Shannon became the first ever Irish senior female World Champion, beating 3-time World Champion Joanna Paprocka to win the 62Kg sparring division. Dylan Fitzgibbon of Cork, winner of the junior title two years ago in New Zealand, took the 70Kg division by storm winning his third consecutive world title. Dylan Murphy from Cork took gold in the junior -56Kg sparring division, edging out national teammates Ryan Shelly (Silver) and Rostik Ivanchuk (Bronze). The 1-2-3 result for Ireland was phenomenal with 45 of the world's best competitors in this section. Finally, Denise O'Brien from Cork took gold in the junior -45Kg division, beating Scotland in the final.
The Irish team returned on Monday 28th to a huge reception at Dublin Airport from family, friends, clubmates & supporters who had turned out to welcome them home. The team have brought great pride to Irish Taekwon-Do and are an inspiration for all members of the association. The team won't have long to rest on their laurels however as the majority of our champions will be competing in the Irish Cup in the University of Limerick Arena on the 16th November.
Posted by Carl Smullen