Huddersfield’s Caden Cunningham has won gold in his first international taekwondo competition in Germany.
The 12-year-old from King James High School in Almondbury took the title on Golden Point in the Children’s International Championships hosted by the legendary Park Soo Nam in Sindelfingen.
And Cunningham impressed so much, defeating a tall German in the final, that he has been selected to represent Europe at the Children’s Taekwondo Union Europe/Asia Challenge in the Autumn, when he will compete in either Beijing or Seoul.
From the Quest Taekwondo club, Cunningham’s plans are to qualify for the Great Britain Cadet team to compete in Romania in September and also to take the British title in his weight category.
Sponsored by the Martial Arts Illustrated magazine, Cunningham is already a 2nd Dan black belt and was part of a 17-strong team from Quest in Germany, including fellow Huddersfield player Wade James, who is 10.
Coach Mike McKenzie said: “Caden is a very talented athlete and, since joining the Quest team, he has developed his tactics and match strategy and really come on.
“He’s part of the GB Cadet squad and he is really doing well on the pathway programme.
“Caden is also a great kid who is well mannered and well liked by his teammates.”
In Germany, the competition was held at the Glaspalast and featured teams from all over Europe.
Cunningham had three matches, all A class, against two athletes from Germany and one from Austria.
The matches were three rounds with Protective Scoring Systems and Instant Video Review, both of which were introduced for London 2012.
His first opponent was a taller German, but Cunningham proved faster and both tactically and technically superior.
He scored with head kicks and back kicks, which are worth more points, and took only two rounds to secure a 12-point gap and end of the match.
Cunningham then faced the Austrian, who was quickly behind, and as he chased points he was picked off even more – good ring craft securing a comfortable result.
The final proved to be very different, again against a taller German, and it went all the way.
The Quest prospect opened up a lead but head shots against him kept the score close, and his opponent always looked dangerous.
Cunningham was ahead in the closing stages of the third round, but a three-point head kick in the final second levelled it and took it to Golden Point decider.
This is where the first person to score wins, and Cunningham had prepared well with his club for such a situation.
It paid off well and, as his opponent stepped in with speed and aggression, he was able to do a counter-checking kick using his opponent’s momentum against him to secure the gold medal.