Woon-A-Tai optimistic about karatekas chances
By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
November 20, 2002

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Guyana Karate Federation (GKF) president Charles Woon-A-Tai is optimistic that the two karatekas selected to represent Guyana at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games slated for El Salvador from November 23 to December 7 will do Guyana proud.

Speaking to Stabroek Sport yesterday, Woon-A-Tai said both David Hardy and Marvin Singh were very impressive at the national trials held a few weeks ago at the Thomas Lands YMCA.

Woon-A-Tai, who also heads the Guyana Japan Karate Association (GJKA) said Singh, who contested the lightweight division was unbeaten in both the kata and kumite aspects of the trials while Hardy brushed aside his opposition as well in the welterweight division.

Added to that, Hardy was also unbeaten in a special round robin tournament staged by the organisers of the national trials. According to Woon-A-Tai, Hardy came up against opponents who are much heavier than himself and was unstoppable. “A lot of things are expected from him at the (CAC) Games,” Woon-A-Tai offered.

Both karatekas are members of the GJKA and both will contest the individual category in the kata and kumite competitions.

All five karate organisations operating in Guyana were represented at the trials.

Singh will be making his debut on the international stage while Hardy has been exposed to international competition having represented Guyana at last year’s Pan American Karate Championships in the United States as well as at other regional tournaments.

According to Woon-A-Tai at the Pan Am last year, Hardy won a few rounds but failed to make it to the medal round. “Unlike the CAC, the Pan Am championships does not have weight divisions.” The fifth degree black belt martial arts teacher said.

Asked why Richard and Nadia Rohoman, as well as Kristine Sewett were not considered for the CAC team, Woon-A-Tai explained that the CAC championships is an adult championships. Athletes must be 18 years of age or older. The Rohomans as well as Sewett are all below that age category, Woon-A-Tai disclosed.

“I’m glad you asked that question, because there are a lot of people out there who might want to know why these kids are not in the squad, when they have been doing pretty well in the sport, but it’s an adult competition.” Woon-A-Tai stated.

Asked how he received funding for the team, Woon-A-Tai explained that the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) contributed part of the required sum, while the GJKA and not the GKF, came up with the rest.

Woon-A-Tai said he also had to use his personal resources to acquire internationally approved fighting gloves and belts from Canada for the team members, since the ones they were using in the past, are not the official Adidas approved gear.

Woon-A-Tai explained that the recently approved gear is not available in local stores.

According to Woon-A-Tai, his association was using white gloves but the approved ones are red and blue much like amateur boxing.

Woon-A-Tai said the GKAF was formed earlier this year and became affiliated to the Guyana Olympic Association in September.

The karatekas along with the other athletes and officials from the other disciplines that will be represented at the Games, is expected to wing out for El Salvador this morning.

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