Special Needs Taekwon-Do a massive success
New Zealand cleaned up at the International Special Needs Taekwon-Do games on Saturday, scoring 37 gold, 41 silver and six bronze medals.
Second overall was the Netherlands, with 16 golds, followed by Australia (eight) and Canada (three).
“We won some and we lost some, but we came out on top overall,” said New Zealand team coach and event organiser Ben Evans.
Ten countries competed in the games, held at the Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale, in front of a good crowd. Three judges oversaw the competition, with one Kiwi judge and two internationals on each mat.
“The day was fantastic,” said Mr Evans. “I’m so rapt at the support we have had from the countries who attended, our New Zealand athletes, the international judges, our fantastic home crowd, and the New Zealand media.”
The Ben Evans Award for the most innovative display went to Angel Stevens from the United Kingdom, while the award for the best umpire also went the United Kingdom’s way; to Vicki Paulson.
New Zealand had a hugely successful day, said Mr Evans. As well as taking out the winning country, the four awards for Best Senior Male went to Aidan McCance, Best Senior Female to Megan Chui, Best Junior Male to Isaac Anderson, and Best Junior Female to Brooke Moeke.
“We’ve certainly got something to live up to at the next world championships,” said Mr Evans.
He was especially pleased at the publicity the games had achieved. “It is incredibly important that our special needs athletes are highly recognised for their achievements, just as other athletes are. We have had Radio New Zealand, TV1 and Hawke’s Bay Today all feature the games and the athletes.”
The media interest did not stop there, with the Netherlands team accompanied by a television crew from their home country.
“As well as showcasing our sport, this is a great opportunity to show off our wonderful home region to people on the other side of the world.”
Yesterday finished with a games dinner. “As well as experiencing excellent competition, we have made long-lasting friendships around the world. It won’t be too long before our athletes are looking ahead to the next international games.”
Many of the teams are staying on in the Bay, to do some sightseeing before they take the long trip home.