TWO members of the Focus Taekwondo Club in Honiara have left the country on Tuesday to take part in the ninth edition of the Mooto Gold Coast Open set to get underway this week.
They are 23 year-old David Leong and 32 year-old Junior Maetia.
The Gold Coast Open will be held this Saturday and Sunday at the GC Sports & Leisure centre, one of the venues used during this year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia.
The competition is organised by Tans Taekwondo of Queensland, Australia and has developed a reputation as being the country’s premier Taekwondo competition.
With the number of contestants across all categories capped at 500, participating fighters at this week’s competition come from New Zealand, India, Nepal, Solomon Islands and host nation Australia where they represented a total of 63 Taekwondo Clubs.
The duo representing Solomon Islands are not first-timers to the Gold Coast Open having participated in the sixth edition held in 2015 where Leong successfully won a silver medal in the 74kg men’s open category.
Speaking to SunSPORTS yesterday prior to departure, Leong is really looking forward to the Gold Coast Open.
“This is a very encouraging opportunity for us Taekwondo artists.
“We’ve also participated in the 2015 edition and have achieved some fair results. I won a silver medal in 2015 and this year, I’m going out for a gold medal. That is my aim.
“Participating in the competition in Australia is also like competing under the country’s flag and I’m proud to represent Solomon Islands.
“Our trip to this tournament is funded by our club in Honiara and we are so thankful for this great opportunity,” Leong, who is also a silver medallist for Solomon Islands at the 2017 Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu, said.
First Dan Black Belt ranked Leong will contest the men’s 74kg class while Second Dam Black Belt ranked Maetia will compete in the men’s 54kg category.
According to the draws obtained by SunSPORTS from the organisers yesterday, Leong earns direct qualification into round two as he will have a bye in round one.
In round two he will take on the winner of the encounter between Oliver Clarke of Australian club 5th Element and Bikesh Bidari of the Nepal Taekwondo Association.
Leong’s competition is on Saturday.
Maetia will take on the competition mat on Saturday as well and he was drawn against Jordan Cushing of Australian-based Taekwondo club ‘One Taekwondo’.
Leong added that they have just missed an opportunity to represent Solomon Islands at the 8th Oceania Taekwondo Championship scheduled to take place in Tahiti earlier next month.
The championship doubles as the qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“We regret missing this one due to financial difficulty.
“Being our club the only sponsor, we don’t have the financial capacity to participate in the championship in Tahiti. The only one we could afford is the championship in Australia.”