Southampton University Taekwondo put in an impressive performance at the Imperial College Open, a sparring tournament held at Imperial College on the 29th of November. The team were third best overall, winning a brilliant sixteen medals, three of which were gold.
SUTKD president, Sophie Carr, answered some questions after the event.
What did the tournament involve and how did SUTKD do?
It is purely a sparring tournament (there are two parts to Taekwondo: sparring (the sport, fighting side) and poomsae (the technical, patterns side) and is great for new members. It’s always a fun, friendly tournament and we’ve been successful in previous years.
We received an impressive medal haul of:
- 3 gold medals;
- 4 silver medals;
- 9 bronze medals;
- and third best team overall.
Imperial took the trophy for the second year running, beating UCL by one point.
How well has the team done at previous tournaments?
SUTKD are currently the record holders for British University Taekwondo. Two years ago, we tied with Bristol University, winning the British Student Taekwondo Federation’s National Championships 5 years in a row and more years cumulatively than any other university. Then last March we smashed the record again.
We’ve never won Imperial Open – Imperial themselves have held that title for the two years that they’ve had the award!
What drew you to taekwondo in the first place?
I myself started a different discipline of Taekwondo at home around two years before I started university. I wanted to improve my fitness and needed to fill the sport side of my Gold D of E and always fancied a martial art so thought I’d give it a try. The style (ITF) is quite different to what we practice here (WTF) insofar as it has a lot more emphasis on its patterns and the sparring has different rules – ITF is semi-contact, and you are allowed to punch to the face. WTF, however, is the Olympic style.
When I first came to the uni club, I absolutely hated it because it was so different, but stuck with it and haven’t looked back really – and now I’m the president, so I must be quite fond of it! I’ve somehow been quite successful in my category in student tournaments, although my fights are always frustratingly close and last-minute wins (when they are wins)!
In the past two years, BSTF Nationals have started having an ITF category in the tournament, including patterns and sparring, which I’ve competed in, so by no means do those of us who come from a different discipline never do it again! Saying that, we are an WTF club and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The WTF training has improved my sparring a huge amount and I couldn’t encourage new members who come from different backgrounds enough to give it a go.
Are there any competitions in the future we should look forward to?
BSTF Nationals is coming up – probably in early March of the new year, and we’re definitely hoping to break another record!
Sophie also highlighted the importance of the volunteer instructors.
“The only reason we can run the incredibly successful club that we do is because of our brilliant volunteer instructors. All of our instructors are either alumni of the university or current students. Cliff Lee has recently taken over as head instructor from our incredible long-standing instructor Vince Collins and the club is continuing to go from strength to strength. Cliff and our four other instructors make an indescribably huge contribution to the club – coaching at tournaments, organising everyone at tournaments to make sure they’re ready on time for their fight, teaching 5 lessons a week and more – and we absolutely couldn’t do it without them!”
Special mentions from the Imperial Open go to Stacey Winter, Sarah Akponosa, and Shinn Tan.
Stacey reached the finals after “sailing” through the first three fights. In the finals, Stacey used technical skill and timing to win the gold medal.
Sarah narrowly missed out on a gold after winning her first two fights to get to the final.
Sarah is a consistently hard working member of the team whose cool composure in each fight and modesty afterwards always impresses.
Shinn, a new member to the team, also managed to take home a gold medal after winning two fights, even though he comes from a different discipline than was competed in at the event.