Champion Academy return full of glitter
A group of local youngsters made history competing at the 29th Michigan Cup in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the weekend.
The 12-strong contingent of martial artists from Champion Academy of Martial Arts were crowned overall team champions after winning each of the three taekwondo divisions, with every member of the team making a trip to the podium.
It is the first time that the academy has achieved such a feat.
“We have been coming to the event for some years now and this is the first time that we have swept every division,” Edmond Johnson, the academy’s founder and chief instructor, told The Royal Gazette.
“In the past we would always take the top spots in the event with our black belts, but this year we saw our teens and youth really kick into high gear.”
Umar Durrant, who doubled up as coach at the event, successfully defended the black belt male forms title he won last year while Tajer Basden was second in the under-13 boys intermediate forms.
Basden then went one better in the under-13 boys intermediate breaking event, which he won. Arianna Smith, Ashaundre Talbot, Al-Shae Landy, Nikai Dyer, Josi Butterfield, the team captain, and Dwayne Creary also won medals competing in the breaking event.
Smith was second in the advanced under-15 category, Talbot third among the under-15 novices, Landy second in the under-17 advanced division, Dyer first in under-17 black belt, and Butterfield first among the advanced men, while Creary won the men’s novice title.
Butterfield claimed a second title after winning the advanced men’s sparring division.
Dyer won the title in the under-15 boys black belt sparring, Brianna Smith was second among the under-15 girls black belt sparring, Asreal Basden and Landy were first and second in women’s advanced sparring while Jarryd Simmons took home the men’s intermediate sparring crown.
Basden earned a second title after winning the under-13 boys intermediate sparring division, Talbot finished second in the under-15 boys novice sparring, while Sivaja Perinchief and Arianna Smith won the under-11 boys novice and under-15 girls advanced titles respectively.
The team’s medal haul at the taekwondo tournament exceeded master Johnson’s expectations by far.
“They totally surpassed expectations as they came into the event more focused on a common goal as a team,” Johnson said.
“I believe that this is all due to the fact that they now have a 24/7 location where they can train and develop as good people, and elite-level martial artists.
“The team trained for six months under special conditions to get ready for the event.
“They would do a sparring session for 2˝ hours, which is abnormal for children, but they were up for the challenge and stuck to the task.”
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