I recently had the amazing opportunity to represent Australia in Tae kwon do in the under 57kg open age black belt sparring division at the World Universiade in Gwangju, South Korea earlier this month. After a terrible start to travels being delayed six hours out of Sydney, two long flights and a 4 hr bus ride later we arrived in Gwangju. The Universiade is a huge multi sports event run every two years and is set up just like the Olympic Games, there was a 250 strong Aussie team across every sport and over 44 countries were represented. We stayed in an athlete’s village for the two week event and got to be a part of some amazing opening and closing ceremonies. The competition was intense across the board with the Australian team having our most successful games yet. Korea took out the medal tally with Australia finishing in around 10th place overall with 19 medals. One of the best parts of the trip was getting to see some other the other sports, the women’s water polo won gold in a dramatic penalty shoot out against Russia in extra time on the last day of competition.
The Tae kwon do competition was fierce with up to 20 valuable Olympic ranking points on the line for the winner. I competed on the first day of Tae kwon do competition, battling the flu and a recovering hip injury but got through to the round of 16 from around 40 competitors and faced off against Portugal and lost by 1 head kick in a very close fight. Portugal took out the silver medal going down to the Korean world number 6 in the finals. Overall I was happy with the performance given my hip injury lead to a very disrupted lead up! The rest of the Tae kwon do team had a good trip with 4 of us getting through to the quarter finals but no medals this time. We had a great laugh in the 5 min scramble tag team event on the last day with the 4 of us girls weighing in more than 30 kg lighter than all the other teams. We happened to draw the giant team from Russia in the 2nd round and had the the scariest 5 minutes of tag team sparring I have ever done! Tag team is a new thing where up to 4 competitors from each country with a combined weight of 251 kg do a 5 min battle where each player can be tagged in and out as many times as needed after they throw a minimum of 3 kicks. Knockouts in this event were worth 10 points! Every time I was tagged onto the ring the Russians tagged on their 6 ft 3 amazon …needless to say we didn’t win that one but had a great laugh in the process. We finished proceedings with a phenomenal closing ceremony in a packed stadium, fireworks, thousands of balloons and a great combination of K-pop bands and a Korean heavy metal band that covered Queen songs! Amazing how everyone, regardless of language and country can bond over a good Queen song!