Huddersfield's Premier Taekwondo Club returned with an impressive medal haul from the British International Open Championships.
Having had success at Dewsbury last year, the Birkby-based club were keen to repeat at Aylesbury – and didn’t disappoint.
Caden Cunningham, who is now looking forward to the British Nationals as a strong favourite, took gold alongside Premier’s GB athlete Tim Needham.
Needham’s brother and fellow GB representative Alex, was also in the medals with a well-deserved bronze after being on the wrong end of some poor decisions from the judges.
Eleven-year-old First Dan Cunningham entered the Under 40kg children’s division and went into the tournament undefeated this year.
It was the biggest competition for him since last year’s British Championships and was a major test.
His first-round fight was against talented Beroev, but he powered through winning 11-1. After winning his semi-final by knockout, Cunningham went on to win gold 5-2 in a tough final.
Tim Needham (Under 51kg) went into battle still carrying the injury which kept him out of the last two competitions, but soon settled and won his semi-final 11-5.
Moving to the final, he faced a tough opponent, scoring last-minute reverse headshots (four points) to take the final to Golden Point. A solid punch then enabled him to take the win and gold medal.
Alex Needham entered the Under 63kg seniors feeling confident after stopping his previous three opponents.
That knockout streak continued in the quarter-finals, with Alex stopping his opponent in the third round.
Needham’s semi-final was against a strong French player and was marred with controversy.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Yorkshire’s Sarah Stevenson was almost denied a medal by a clear headshot not scoring. As a result video replay has been brought in to most international competitions.
The British International, however, isn’t one of them and Premier felt two clear headshots were missed, costing Needham six points.
To add insult to injury, his opponent was then awarded an extra point for a back kick which observers felt he shouldn’t have got.
Those seven points allowed Edward Dourdin to take the fight to Golden Point and a well-placed back kick put him through to a final which he wojn.
Bronze was not the colour of medal which Needham wanted or deserved.
Premier instructor is Moji, who said: “Although I was unable to make it to the competition it was good to hear our training is paying off.
“I would like to thank Nottingham’s Mark Moores, South Ham’s Dave Desforges and Daniel Flesher for coaching on behalf of Premier.”
Anyone wanting to join Premier, or businesses wishing to sponsor the non-profit organisation, should contact Alan on 07713 837508 or email email@example.com
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