In the early morning of Tuesday 26th July, the UTA Competitors, Coaches, Umpires and Spectators met at Luton Airport for their flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Everyone was excited as this was the first International Competition in 3 years! After a speedy check-in, it was time to get some much-needed breakfast. A few hours later we boarded the plane for what was a very short flight of about 45 mins, much shorter than the 14-hour flight to the previous World Championships in Argentina! We landed at Schiphol Airport just before lunchtime and caught the shuttle bus to our hotel. We were staying at the Van der Valk Hotel Schiphol, where the majority of National Teams competing at the tournament were also staying. We were quickly given the keys to our rooms, which were very spacious and overlooked the fields behind the hotel. We were particularly impressed by the robot lawn mowers that continued to run day and night! After everyone was settled, we took the shuttle bus back to the airport to get the train into Amsterdam city to enjoy the evening.
The next day we were able to try the breakfast buffet. As many of our athletes were weighing in the next day they kept their meals light. After breakfast it was time for some gentle training with the rest of Team UK, ensuring that everybody stayed loose and focused ready for the beginning of the competition. There was also some practice for the athletes representing the UK in the Team patterns event, of which the UTA had 6 competitors involved across the Adult Male, Female and Junior Male Teams. After the training and with a little bit of spare time (which is rare for these events!), some of the UTA contingents enjoyed a boat tour around the city canals of Amsterdam, showing us various sights including Anne Frank’s house, the grand churches and also the narrowest property in the city, which is only just over 2 metres wide! Once again it was time for some food and an early night ready for the weigh-in. Thursday morning was time for the weigh-in and registration check for the athletes competing. Thankfully everyone from the UTA made their weight at the first attempt, so everybody quickly rushed to the buffet for some well-deserved breakfast. Thursday was a quiet day with some Pattern work as everybody was fully focused on the start of the World Championships on Friday.
Friday was the first day of the World Championships, and the beginning of the Competition for the Pre-Juniors, Seniors, Junior Patterns and Adult Female Patterns. The World Championships were officially opened with a Dutch percussion band which brought a lot of energy to the stadium. It was followed by the flag-bearing ceremony and Athlete, Coach and Umpires Oaths. Finally, the crowd was introduced to ITF President and Son of Taekwon-Do Founder Choi Jung Hwa, who gave a speech about competition being a great opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the tenets through the love of Taekwon-Do. After he took his seat at the top table, the tournament began. From the beginning, it was clear that this was to be a tough competition. Following some very hard and competitive divisions, the UTA had their first medallists of the competition: Greg Rose Silver Senior Male 4th Degree Patterns, Kelly Rose Silver Senior Female 4th Degree Patterns, Tracey Whelpdale Silver Senior Female 2nd Degree Patterns, Ryan Dimov Silver Under 14s Male 1st Degree Patterns and Madison Judge Bronze Under 14s Female 1st Degree Patterns. The UTA also had their first World Champions of the competition crowned, Kelly Rose who won Gold in Senior Female Middleweight Sparring and Freya West who also achieved Gold in Under 14s Female 1st Degree Patterns and Microweight Sparring. The togetherness of the UTA and Team UK was clear to see as every competitor had fantastic support behind them for each bout. These students were presented their medals by some of the Grand Masters present. It was fantastic to see the UK flag on the podium so many times on the first day.
Saturday was the second day of the Competition and was time for our Adult Male Patterns, Junior Male Sparring and Adult Female Sparring. These were some of the largest divisions in the competition and unfortunately meant there were some narrow Medal position misses. However, the UTA still produced some really strong performances and ended the day with another 4 medals for: Ana Phillips Bronze Adult Female Middleweight Sparring, Elliott Callahan Bronze Adult Male 4th Degree Patterns, Leighton Callahan Silver Adult Male 3rd Degree Patterns and our 3rd World Champion of the competition Noah Careford who struck gold in the Junior Male Heavyweight Sparring category.
The final day saw our last competitors of the week in action, the Adult Male Sparring divisions and Team Events. Another extremely difficult day of competition with some more very closely fought spars which ended with one more World Champion, Elliott Callahan, who won Gold in the Adult Male Microweight Sparring category. After the conclusion of the Individual events, it was time for the Team Events, which are always entertaining and competitive. Once again, the whole of the UK were cheering and encouraging the Teams in their Patterns and Sparring divisions. UTA Competitors Kelly Rose, Ana Phillips, Leanne Vaton, Elliott Callahan, Ellis Lacey, Noah Careford and Declan Beel were part of the respective teams who brought back: Adult Female Team Silver Sparring Bronze Power Bronze Special Technique, Adult Male Team Silver Sparring Bronze Patterns and Junior Male Team Silver Patterns Silver Sparring.
Every single competitor who represented the UTA and Team UK gave it their all and made us extremely proud. For many, this was their first international tournament and the experience they have gained is invaluable. Medal or not everybody should be happy with their performances. UTA Coaches Master Horan and Mr Owen have worked extremely hard to make sure that the competitors were prepared and ready to represent Team UK both during the competition and during the many months of training prior to it. The UTA also had two Umpires representing UK ITF at the World Championships, Mrs Kirsty Owen and Mrs Claire Lacey, who both worked tirelessly over the three long days of competition and made us extremely proud. Thank you to UK ITF and Grand Master Nicholls for their support during this event. Thank you also to our UTA members who helped with the fundraising for this competition, as without your help it would not be possible to send our 16 Competitors to this championship.
We look forward to the next one!