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Heavy medal haul for Folding Mountain

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Masha Scheele

Folding Mountain Taekwondo athletes cleaned up at the 30th Annual Whitecourt Taekwondo Championship this past weekend, including one competitor’s triumphant return from injury.

The 10 local competitors brought home 10 gold, four silver, and five bronze medals. Eight of the 10 athletes were youth ranging anywhere from a white belt to a black stripe. 

Ten-year-old red belt, Caylee Hunter, returned to action from a broken arm suffered in her final match at the Tiger Challenge Tournament in November. She took home gold for patterns and sparring.

Master Bill McLaughlin found out after the Tiger Challenge Tournament that another student, red belt Kala Zilkowsky, competed through an injury.

“I didn’t realize that Kala had a broken ankle until she showed up in class with a cast on,” he said.

She had an injury before the Tiger Challenge, but taped her ankle to protect it before she came to the match.During her warm-up she rolled it over and fractured her ankle, said McLaughlin. 

She pushed through her match and won gold with a fractured ankle, and has been lightly training again since her cast was removed, but didn’t compete in Whitecourt.

Kimberley Russell a 14-year-old black stripe took silver in patterns and gold in sparring in Whitecourt. Russell is preparing to test for her black belt this year, and had just learned the first black belt pattern going into the competition, explained McLaughlin.

Russel and Hunter both dominated their division and beat each of their opponents by large margins.

John Lorenz, an 11-year-old blue stripe, won gold in both patterns and sparring at the recent tournament. McLaughlin added that he couldn’t remember the last time Lorenz didn’t take home a gold medal.

Eight-year-old blue stripe, Robert Field, also won gold in patterns and received silver in sparring. His final sparring match was fairly close but a tactical error of looking at the scoreboard left him open to his opponent to score on him. 

Russel, Hunter, Lorenz, and Field are also part of the Folding Mountain competition team and train an extra two days per week.

The Whitecourt tournament was the first tournament for Kenzie MacKay, Bentley MacKay, and Wynne Hibbs.

Hibbs, a six-year-old yellow stripe, got bronze in patterns and gold in sparring; while Kenzie MacKay, a seven-year-old blue stripe, got silver in patterns and bronze in sparring; and  nine-year-old white belt, Bentley MacKay, won gold in patterns and bronze in sparring. McLaughlin commented that the scoring of Kenzie MacKay’s match really didn’t reflect the match.

Eight-year-old green belt, Carter Hibbs, took home bronze in patterns and won gold in sparring.

Jeff Smeall, an adult red belt, won gold in patterns and bronze in sparring. He lost his first match in his three-person division and entered an exhibition match against a black belt and held his own, said McLaughlin.

“The other guy is obviously more experienced and stuff because he’s a black belt, but he held his own. He didn’t win, but it was a good fight,” he said.

Black belt Sport Poomse competitor, Jessica Smeall, took home silver.