Members of Mary Mannion’s Athlone Taekwon-do Academy represented Ireland in the International Taekwon-do Federation World Championships in South Korea recently. Mannion herself competed as did her students, Leon Brydone and Dylan Lacey. As well as competing in the individual categories, Dylan represented Ireland on the junior teams. Brydone featured on the men’s senior team. The current European champion sacrificed the individual sparring to save himself for the team due to a recovering injury.
Before the World Championships began, the Irish had the opportunity to participate in the World Taekwon-do Festival. The festival, which is hosted in South Korea annually, runs both styles of Taekwon-do side-by-side. The two styles are WTF (Olympic ) and ITF (Traditional ). Mannion won bronze in the senior ladies 3rd dan patterns. Lacey followed up with an impressive three medals – silver in junior team sparring, bronze in individual sparring, and bronze in team patterns. Next up was the World Championships.
The Irish delegation were impressed to see the large squads arriving from around the world - Argentina, USA, UK, and Canada, all sporting squads of 100 plus people. Ireland alone presented 45 competitors, most of whom ended up on the podium. There were approximately 30 countries represented.
The tournament started with patterns, the juniors getting a run out. Lacey performed well but didn’t make it to the podium. The seniors followed, resulting in Ireland’s first world champion - Mary Mannion. She dispatched her Canadian opponent in the final by keeping her cool and focusing on the goal.
There was great success for Ireland in the team events. Brydone finally got his chance to shine as he outclassed his Spanish opponent to help put Ireland in the semi-finals of the men’s team sparring. Ireland had to settle for bronze in the end, however. Brydone also took bronze in team power breaking. The junior boys team, including Lacey, similarly, had success in their power event, winning bronze also.
Overall, it was a major triumph for the Athlone group, with both males winning team medals, and their instructor, Ms Mannion, crowned with her first World Championship gold medal. It was a testament to the local instructor’s ability as a coach that not only did she perform superbly, but her students did also.
Taekwon-do classes take place weekly with Ms Mannion at various venues around Athlone. For information, telephone (087 ) 6199621.