In the face of wintry weather hundreds travelled to Harrogate from across the world for the return of the Mayor’s Cup Open Poomsae Championship.
Rossett Sports Centre was filled for the second run of the taekwondo contest on Saturday, March 3, drawing competitors and delegates of all ages from across the UK and further afield.
The event, organised by Master Kambiz Ali of the Harrogate K R Ali Taekwondo Academy, was opened by a speech from Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Anne Jones who gave a special welcome to parents and a South Korean delegation, the KTA Silver Taekwondo Demonstration Team. Aged 50 to 85 the team’s acrobatic displays helped open events, while also carrying the message that the sport is open to all.
Coun Jones said: “This is only the second Mayor’s Cup and I am absolutely delighted to be here, not only to see familiar faces but also to support Master Ali who should really be congratulated and applauded for all the work he does for taekwondo in the area. I think that its so wonderful to see entrances from all disciplines, making it so inclusive and that should be celebrated.”
She added: “I would like to finish by thanking all the parents who support the children through these competitions, they couldn’t do it without you so thank you your commitment.”
Despite cancellations due to the poor weather hundreds of competitors took part on the day, ranging from the under nine to over 66 categories.
Matt Walker volunteers with the Harrogate Academy, his seven year old son Luca competing after four years and earning a blue belt.
He said: “This is a community club, so when people come here everyone knows each other, helps with events and it brings people together from right across town who otherwise might not have known each other.
He added: “The day has been fantastic, its such a shame some clubs had to pull out because of the bad weather but there are around 300 players from around the world.”
Adam Dickson, one of Master Ali’s long time students, paid tribute to him for growing Harrogate’s links to centres for the sport and the size of this years event.
He said: “When I started off at the club 13 years ago nothing like this would have been imaginable, but after his time at the world taekwondo headquarters in South Korea he has been able to pull this off.”
Grandmaster Tong Wan Shin, who has himself earned two World Poomsae Champion titles, helped judge and referee the displays throughout the day. He applauded the efforts of those taking part, as well as Master Ali’s efforts to develop taekwondo in Harrogate.
He said: “This year I have been very impressed by some of them (competitors), it has been at a very good standard and all of this despite the situation with the weather. It has been a good atmosphere, I have enjoyed watching and supporting them today.”
He added: “Taekwondo takes time to promote to a good standard, he is working hard and there are many delegates from Korea who are enjoying themselves by being here today.”