1999 ITF WORLD CHAMPS NEWS
THESE ARE THE DAILY UPDATES WE RECEIVED FROM THE NZ TEAM IN ARGENTINA
LATEST UPDATES FROM THE TOP OF THE PAGE
Mr Graham Patterson qualifying for the finals at the world champs
Sorry this one is a little late, people, but we got home from the airport and I slept nearly 24 hours straight...September 5 - SundayWORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS - LAST DAY - Team Event FinalsWith Saturday being our last night in Argentina, many of the kiwis took the opportunity to go out clubbing. Tam and Aaron had discovered a place called "Buenos Aires News" the night before that they'd decided people had to try... "That's the best nightclub I've bever been in", Aaron told us.But some of us didn't go out... we had a job to do. Aaron Lange qualified us for Team Special Technique back in Rosario, and the competition was today.Because of this, I'm afraid I don't have a great amount of detail to pass on about the Team Sparring and Team Patterns semis and finals... our attention was elsewhere... but here's what I remember...Female Team Pattern Semis were fairly predictable... Argentina v Germany and Korea v Poland. The Germans and the Poles were good, but they didn't have quite the crackle of the Argentines or the quintuplet precision of the Koreans. The Argentinian girls are very huggy... when they win they tend to go into a huddle and bounce up and down in unison... must be a cultural thing...The Korean girls, on the other hand, like to turn to the audience and wave with both hands above their heads. They really look like stranded shipwreck victims trying to flag down a passing plane... it's even worse when they're collecting medals, but this time all medallists got bunches of flowers as well, which made it harder for them to wave properly. Heh.Male Team Pattern Semis were Korea v Japan and KFJ v Uzbekistan. Japanese marching was weird... moving forward only about half a foot with each step, knees coming up to nearly chest height. Not the best effect I've ever seen. Their patterns were good, but they seemed to lack some of the let's-all-blink-in-unison training of the Koreans... some people performed techniques slightly differently. Win to Korea.The KFJ-Uzbekistan match was quick... they marched on, bowed, then the ref raised the KFJ captain's (Hwoarang's!) hand. Win to KFJ.Moments later, Master Renee Sereff - jury for the ring - came on the PA system. "We feel we should explain the result you just saw in Ring 4..." Apparently one of the Uzbek team had a knee injury, and they'd subbed in someone else. Can't do that. Against the rules. Hope bronze goes well with your tracksuit.I didn't really see much of the finals... Korea won both. The Argentinian home crowd did it's best to distract them while they performed... booing and whistling, shouting... but once they finished their patterns, the crowd applauded. Weird. We figure it was obvious enough that they deserved the win and the crowd respected that, but we felt that the distraction thing was kinda unsporting...I didn't really see any of the Team Sparring Semis, and not much of the Finals... Korean girls took down Argentina 3-0 in the Finals, from memory, but in the Men's Finals Slovenia put up a good fight against Poland... winning at least one bout, I think. A well deserved silver, but Poland definitely earned their gold.Team Power, I just didn't see any of. It's much harder to tell across a stadium how power breaking is going than special technique anyway. Sorry about that... but Korea won the Female and England the Male. Seems to be one of England's stronger events... they took gold in the Female event in St Petersburg.In Female Special Technique, it was odd to note that for high kick and turning kick, some countries were performing a bootstrap takeoff - taking off and kicking with the same leg, no scissor action. Weird. There's no power in that... but maybe it gives a height advantage? You don't need much power - the women were breaking kiddy boards, I think, and they were clamped reasonably firmly - so maybe we should experiment and see if we can get better heights jumping like that? *Ugly* kick, but if it wins medals...?Male Special Technique - I can tell you a little more about this one.The draw was random - Argentina were first up, New Zealand were 6th, Korea next to last. Greece were last up out of 13 (17? I think it was 13.), since they were Team Sparring while most of us were breaking.Argentina broke two boards - the Ogre missed the high kick, the fourth dan missed the back kick, and they missed the turning kick. Their Individual Special Technique competitor broke his reverse turning kick. The last break - the overhead kick - involved leaping over two wires (made visible by a couple of folded sheets of paper draped over each) 70 cm high, 4 m apart. Their breaker pinged the wires, but they didn't fall, and he broke the board - a valid break. Cut it fine, though.Brazil was horribly unlucky... they broke one (overhead kick as well, I think?), but they gave both the high kick and the reverse turning kick fairly solid hits. They simply failed to break. Bad luck.A couple of other countries missed all five, then we were up. Not quite up for the breaks we'd been working on - Graham had injured his foot performing his medal-winning turning kick the day before, so our sixth man - Chris Fisher - was taking the high kick, Ry the turning kick, and I the reverse turning kick... a slight reshuffling of our order of battle.Chris and I weren't really close to our heights. Aaron and Ry made superb efforts - Aaron was the only competitor in the initial round to touch the board with the midair kick, and Ry reached his board with his turning kick, but neither broke.We set up for Justin's overhead kick. This was our most likely shot - it really didn't look that far! We couldn't figure why so many world-class competitors couldn't jump this distance...?But Justin "Best Side Kick In The World" Jessett could. And unlike Argentina and Brazil, he didn't even come *near* the wires. A beautiful clean jump... a beautiful clean break. And, of course, a beautiful clean break to finish it off. Hold for two seconds... then celebrate!Seven more countries, I think, to break... as long as nobody else broke two or more, we were still in with a chance for the silver. We sort of couldn't help applauding every missed break...Czech Republic broke the turning kick. But only the turning kick. We were still in it.Then Korea came up to bat. Ulch. Traditionally Korea are very strong in this event... their Team are all six footers plus!High kick - a hit, but no break.Midair kick - a miss.Reverse turning kick - a miss! One more miss, and they can't beat us...Turning kick - a touch, no break. That's it!Overhead kick - he set the wire jangling, but it didn't fall. From where I was standing, it actually looked like he aborted the kick and broke the board with a punch, but I was at a poor angle a whole stadium away - the judges certainly didn't disqualify the break, so it must have been okay. One for Korea.Greece was the last team up - they absolutely destroyed the high kick, but missed all the others. Do we train differently to the rest of the world for overhead kick?At this point, the Argentinian team and crowd started to go a bit nuts - they'd just won their first gold medal of the Champs! (They had a stack of silvers already, but I guess it's not the same... they ended up with two, also winning Female Team Special...)The five teams who'd broken one got called back for a breakoff - the Special Technique area was on the other side of the Stadium to the seats New Zealand had staked out. We'd decided that whichever kick was chosen, Aaron Lange would perform it - except for the overhead kick, which was the property of on Mr Justin "Best Side Kick In The World" Jessett.In the event, the designated kick was high kick. Brazil went up to break... and Aaron realised he didn't have his competitor tag with him. He sprinted back to the NZ area to find it, and Andrew started to get Ry ready to take over in case he didn't make it back in time.But he did, with seconds to spare...Alas, he missed by an inch or less. But so had Brazil... and Czech and Korea went on to do the same. But then Greece lined up - and they had hit this kick with plenty of height to spare in the first round. Kablam! Silver medal for Greece.Two bronzes still in play - the designated kick this time was turning kick.Brazil broke. Aaron got ready.And got caught up on a technicality... he took a dry run at the board, then reached up his hand to gauge the height. Both of which count as one "measure" each... and only one measure is allowed per break. The judge held up two fingers, then gave a "no break" signal. New Zealand were out.Czech and Korea both broke turning kick, then went on to break the midair kick, which Brazil missed - bronzes to Czech and Korea.We were upset at losing our chance at a medal over a technicality, but unfortunately it's in the rules, so we had no choice but to accept it. It was Aaron's first Champs, so it's just an experience thing... I know I cringed the moment he put his hand up, and Graham across the stadium did the same... we *knew* that it might be a very bad thing, and it was.If the first kick designated had been the overhead, or maybe the midair kick... if Graham had been uninjured... if Aaron or Ry had been a little luckier when they hit their boards in the first round... if, if... we're sorry, New Zealand... we gave it a damned good try.While the last of the sparring was rounding up, I was stunned to see Paul Germain himself over by the New Zealand area, talking to Nikki Mantjika and a couple of other people. "I was wondering if anyone wanted to swap a tracksuit about my size?", he was saying.Poor Nikki... she didn't recognise him. By the time someone told her, I was already there, letting him know I was keen...Nikki got him to sign her tracksuit instead, and several of the team got photos with him... he told me his Team Canada tracksuit was back at the hotel, and to meet him after the medals so we could go swap.Wow.After the contest there were a couple of demonstration items from local Argentinian practitioners... I don't remember anything particularly exciting from these. But while they were setting up for the medal presentations, we did a demonstration of our own.We'd had a request - again - to do the haka on stage. But, we were told, they wanted it *after* the medals now. Not acceptable, we decided... everyone would have gone by the time all the medals were given out. But there was nobody on stage right *now*... and Rua happened to be with us, and the security guards knew he was an official...We all marched up onto the stage, jackets on, hoods up, heads down... with Gabriela and all her interpreters standing behind us as we arrayed in a half circle on the stage. The lights and TV cameras focussed on us...On the first call from Tam and Aaron, the jackets came off, leaving us bare-chested. (Pause for crowd response...)On the second call, our heads came up, to pick a member of the audience and start staring them down...Then the haka began in earnest, and we were *loud*.Unfortunately for Aaron, his thigh slapping in the middle was *very* enthusiastic, and we were all wearing our pop-stud track pants. One leg tore completely open, leaving the leg flapping and his underwear exposed. He realised he was slapping bare skin, and whipped behind the line to fix it up... returning to much cheering from the audience...We finished the haka with a great response from the crowd. then parted the line to bring the translators forward. They hadn't received the recognition throughout the tournament we felt they deserved, so here was our chance to present them to the crowd as valued members of the tournament team. (Plus, they all thought we were the best country at the tournament, and had been in the habit of accidentally deserting their designated teams to spend time with us... heh...)When we felt the crowd had got the point, we all went into a huddle and started doing that silly Argentinian bounce-in-unison thing, and began singing the "Ole, ole-ole" song we'd heard so much from the home crowd. We didn't know all the words, but it didn't matter... by the time we were halfway through the second line, a couple of thousand Argentinians had taken over... which was the result we were after...Medal presentations. The North Korean anthem about fifty thousand times. Aargh. But at least we got to see the NZ flag going up when Gray collected his bronze... cool :)After the medals, they presented the trophies for best overalls. Best Male, Best Female, Best Male Team, Best Female Team, and Best Country all went to Koreans. Surprise. A special award was given to our friend Master Leong Wai Meng - he is standing down from the Tournaments Committee after a long term of service. Paul Germain was presented a pretty glass-and-gold-leaf rosebowl in recognition of his career - he is officially resigning from competition - his first Champs was in 1981!Then Master Galarraga turned over the ITF flag to Master Bos, who will be running the 2001 Champs in Italy, officially closing the Champs.Let the celebrations begin - they brought onstage the band who had written the "Official World Champs Theme Music" we'd been reglaed with every time Argentina entered the arena, to play it for us live...Oops! Stop the music! Remember that Best Overall Male trophy we gave to that Korean guy? We just checked our addition, and it actually should have gone to this Polish guy! Dreadfully sorry. Everybody clap or something.Heh. I enjoyed that bit... it's nice seeing a best overall go to a non-korean...Most of New Zealand headed off, but I was waiting for Paul Germain so I could go get a tracksuit :) It takes this man a long time to make his way through a crowd of TKDin... he's lucky to get three steps without people stopping him for autographs or photographs. He's very good about it... seems willing to go along with most photographs. The most common was the arm-around-the-shoulders shot, but I saw a few side-by-side guarding blocks, and at least one I'm-sparring-Paul-Germain! shot.Eventually he finished up his interviews and autographs, and we walked back to his hotel. We chatted a little about NZ and Canada (especially Quebec) on the way... nice guy! The arrogance he displays in the ring doesn't show up outside it.When we got to the hotel he signed the tracksuit - his last Team Canada competition tracksuit - for me and we swapped. I'm going to have to get the signature embroidered... don't want it vanishing in the wash! We talked a while longer, and he expressed an interest in coming out to see New Zealand some time. I said we'd love a sparring seminar... "Oh, sure, why not? Here's my email address..."How about it, people? Do we want a seminar from the most famous sparrer in ITF history?Around then I had to head back to our hotel to be sure I didn't miss the bus to the airport. Shame. I'm sure glad we had quality tracksuits this year, though!I got back to the hotel to find some of the German team had dropped by to visit. Poor guys. They were paying $50 a night at the Promenade, and we were paying $55 at the Presidente. Just looking around the lobby was bad enough for them... then we told them about the breakfasts. Heh.A few of the team were getting a touch tipsy... their first chance to drink in over eight months, in some cases. (Andrew imposed a no alcohol rule from Jan 1st...) It was a happy atmosphere - the Germans were great guys, and people were having a good time.Eventually they had to leave - we saw them off with a few verses of "I wish that all the ladies..." - it had become sort of an unofficial team anthem. (Try http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/eaton_chris/songs/Ladies.htm if you need to know more...)We had a couple of presentations to make at this point, to Carmen and Andrew as Manager and Coach. Both got framed photos of the team from our last camp in Taupo, and Carmen received a Lladro ceramic horse - it held special significance for her, as apparent from the emotional display :) Andrew got an official Champs jacket... he'd seen them on sale in Rosario, but they'd run out of stock before he could buy one. We bought one for him in Buenos Aires, and Nicola Mitchell played shepherd to make sure he never actually found the stall himself. Aren't we sneaky? :)The bus arrived - we all got on board, along with Gabriela, her husband, and Cecilia. (Gabriela was wearing a dress that Sherylene had insisted she buy - she was going straight to the party we had to miss after the airport.) We also stopped at the Waldorf (ick) to pick up a couple of Australians who were catching the same plane.The bus trip was a noisy one. What with singing, chanting, hakas, and shots of vodka, a lot of people were getting very loud. Poor Gabriela - her husband was getting into the spirit, and as a PE teacher, he was quite acrobatic enough to turn somersaults on the handgrips of the bus aisle...Oh, yeah. I forgot "Waltzing Matilda". I'm not sure how that happened... the Aussies were outnumbered 20-2...We arrived at the airport, and checked our baggage in no problems... time to say goodbye to the Argentinians. Gabriela and Cecilia both got a small gift and a flower, and we gave them a softened-down rendition of the haka. (We didn't scream in their faces :) ) They found that kinda moving... both were in tears by the end...Goodbyes were made - Carmen, Carolina and Alan Gillon were also staying, moving on to other destinations the next day - and we went through the gates.We were starving, so we bought some food from the little cafe in the departure lounge. Tam used up his last pesos buying candy from the souvenir shop - he got quite an impressive haul for about (I think) $7! (Pesos can't be exchanged in NZ, so best to spend them all before you go...) We were definitely still in Argentina - my ham and cheese sandwich came on dry bread, with no butter! Aargh!I can't speak for everyone, but I think a lot of us went unconscious early into the flight... I think I slept for five or six hours before waking up halfway through "Notting Hill"... (The other movie was Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence in "Life"...) I then drifted in and out a bit, so I can't really say much about the flight. Maybe Gray will put in another update with more about it...
Arrival at Auckland. Wow. Good to be home... I'm so *tired*... for the past week, it's been up at 7ish to get to the Tournament on time... leave the venue at 10pm... back from dinner by midnight... write an update... bed by 1:30... ulch.We picked up our luggage, and had the idea that we should send Graham through the gates first for the people who had come to meet us at the airport. But then Barbs found the Duty Free stores. So we scratched that idea.We went through Customs, waited for Graham and Barbs, met our welcomers, waited for Graham and Barbs, told some stories, waited for Graham and Barbs, showed off new tracksuits and t-shirts and souvenirs, waited for Graham and Barbs, took some photos... and *finally* Graham and Barbs arrived :) We gave Graham a round of applause as he emerged, and the medal was duly admired. About then the Palmerston North people had to head off to catch a flight, so we all said our goodbyes, and the Aucklanders and Wellingtonians went to grab breakfast at McDonalds.That's it, people... we're back! And I feel about ready to sleep *another* 24 hours...Keep an eye out for photos and anecdotes... still some to come... :)
This may be my last chance to write before we leave tonight, so I´ll fill in all the details from New Zealand.
But this morning we came close to another medal in Male Team Special Technique - Argentina was the only country to break two boards, winning the gold, while Justin Jessett broke the overhead kick to tie New Zealand in second place with Greece, Czech, Brazil, and Korea.
Unfortunately, in the break-off the silver went to Greece and the bronze to Czech. I´ll tell you all about it. But right now we have to go watch some finals and see Graham get his medal... and then we´re on a plane.
See you all at Auckland Airport, 5am Tuesday morning...!
September 4 - Saturday - Day 13
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS DAY 7 - Individual Finals
We arrived at the venue today about 9:30am... we´d arrived at 8:30 the day before and nothing had happened for ages. They´d just really got to the point where things could begin when we arrived today - well timed!
Competing this morning in sparring we had Hong Looi in Heavyweight and Ian Walton in Hyperweight. Ian was right near the end of his draw, and Hong had a bye in the first round, so there was a long time before either of them were on.
Laura has a pet Puerto Rican, and Nigina Curbanova from Tajikistan has befriended the New Zealand team (she only loves us for our funny hats... she traded Lawrence for one of them today...), and we´re kinda fond of Germany and Slovenia after the Team Sparring, so even when no kiwis are on, we can usually find someone to cheer for. USA has always been friendly with us, and of course Jamaica this year... plus whoever´s competing against Argentina or Korea...
Nigina Curbanova has some of our girls slightly awestruck... at the age of 21, she´s a fourth dan, has competed in five or six Worlds and Junior Worlds, has several World Championship medals to her name (she´s just come away with bronze in both lightweight sparring and 4th dan patterns), and has recently completed a law degree to boot.
("I feel so old..." - Sherylene.)
Tajikistan have done very well these Champs, and last time as well, and Miss Curbanova has agreed to try and talk some of the boys into demonstrating some ot the sorts of drills they use for training so we can get videos... we can always use extra ideas!
As well as Hong and Ian in sparring, we also had Graham and Nikki in Power Test and Aaron Lange in Special Technique today.
Both competitions had a qualifying break to reach the finals - side kick for Power, and high kick for Special. For Power Test, they have a ridiculous setup for the board holders - they lift off the floor or even slide when the boards are kicked! All the need do is set them up against a wall! Anyway, in Power Test, Nikki broke all three of her boards to qualify for the final, and Graham broke one of his six boards to qualify - one of only three people to do so! (New Zealand, Paraguay, and Korea.)
In the final, Nikki didn´t break any boards with her knifehand or turning kick, and thus didn´t medal :( Graham broke one of five with his turning kick (if you´ve ever seen a Patterson turning kick, that´ll tell you the sort of problems we´re having with the board holders!), and nothing with his knifehand, reverse turning kick, or punch (unless you count the skin on his knuckles...), but Paraguay broke all four boards with the knifehand, and Korea had qualified with three boards on the side kick, leaving Graham with the Bronze.
One Bronze medal seems to be a New Zealand tradition... but we still have Team Special Technique tomorrow to try and add to the collection!
Aaron Lange is one of the shortest in the special technique competition, and while he didn´t break the board to qualify, he did touch it... a feat many of the taller competitors didn´t manage! Well done, Aaron!
Ian was the first of our sparrers to compete today, drawing USA. We urged him on with a haka while he prepared to step into the ring... and then waited five minutes when they decided they had to sweep off the mats. Aargh. Anyway, eventually the bout began.
The American got well and truly Walted... Ian´s hands following him whenever he tried to disengage and often as not driving him out of the ring or down to the mat. In two rounds, he clocked up seven warnings (totalling two minus points per judge!) to Ian´s two (no minus points). We were all confident he´d been slaughtered... a clear victory to Ian!
But the ref declared it a draw... and in the third round the American took it.
We don´t have any problem with the third round decision... but we don´t have a clue how the first two rounds resulted in a draw! I hope these updates don´t sound like a They´re-all-out-to-cheat-NZ conspiracy theory, but we seem to be getting a lot of very strange results :(
(Graham was accidentally left off the list for Power Test, but we sorted that out... just as well, huh? It also nearly caused a problem when they tallied results, because he was also not on their master scoresheet, or something. But we caught and sorted that one too. Whew!)
Andrew protested the result, getting to look at the scoresheets, but getting little further insight into what had happened. No change to the outcome, but at least (for some reason) they didn´t charge us $US200 for the protest...
Hong, our other fighter of the day, took on Ukraine, looking very... unusual, with silver hair mascara in the short fuzz on his recently shaved head. He fought well, but was not quite as relaxed as we´ve seen him, and the Ukrainian scored with a lot of flying punches for double points that Hong didn´t make up.
That´s it for the kiwis today.
One of the highlight fights today was the Men´s Hyperweight Semifinal between Pierre Guinette of Canada - twice World Champ - and the German Andreas Hamper (blondie-boy from Team Sparring vs Argentina...) Pierre is one of the Big Names in ITF sparring, and Andreas Hamper, while not a familiar name, is turning out to be someone to watch. Very arrogant in the ring, but very good.
The bout was fast and hard... it´s exciting to watch a perfect dodging back kick foiled by a quick sidestep-and-lunge to rain punches in... both these boys are experts.
Joe Bosse - we met him last time in St Petersburg, great guy - took on Slovenia in another exciting round. There was one lovely moment when he came speeding in with a sliding front kick... and met a Slovenian fist coming the other way with his forehead. Thump. But he was okay, and carried on to win the fight. Lost to the eventual gold medallist in the next round, however, one round shy of the medals.
After lunch (at about 4 o´clock, or something ridiculous), the finals began.
In Female Microweight, Bianca Tapilatu of Netherlands was all over the Czech girl... not an entirely one-sided fight, but close...
In Lightweight, Julia Cross of Scotland (the only Scottish competitor this year... odd, given their performance last time...) defied the odds to beat the Korean and improve her silver medal from 1997. Another person we should try and get to NZ some time...
In Middleweight, Argentina vs Korea, the fight went to a third round before a win by Korea.
In Heavy, surprisingly, Germany got the result she actually deserved, along with a gold medal... the Korean didn´t manage to find her Get Out Of Jail Free card in time, I guess...
Nothing particularly exciting in the Korea-Uzbekistan Hyperweight final. Win to Korea.
Patterns were next, with males and females alternating.
In Female 1st Dan, Korea beat Poland. The same Polish girl who beat Nikki in the first round. God knows how. She *had* improved since yesterday... but we still feel Nikki´s better...
Male 2nd Dan - Uzbekistan vs Korea. The Korean was literally twice the height of the Uzbekistani - the kid looks about ten years old! He has to be at least 14.5, or he couldn´t be a second dan, but he looks like a munchkin. But he can put his legs exactly where he wants them and stop them dead... which he demonstrated amply with Juche and Eui-Am. A shame that "where he wants them" is usually too high for the pattern, but the judges liked it... win to UZB. Watch out for this guy...
Male 3rd Dan - grr. I´m still sure I´m as good as the Russian... if I´d gone through to the semis, he would have been my opponent. And I think I could have beaten him. C´est la vie. The Russian won, too. Surprised us... we thought the Argentinian was actually better... and they don´t usually need even that much excuse to win...
Female 4th Dan... oh dear. Noemi Prone of Argentina vs Korea. No doubt about it, the woman can kick... but like the Uzbekistani kid, she doesn´t have much respect for where the book says those kicks should *go*! Middle kicks six inches above the head, I´m used to... but I´ve never seen anyone do the pressing kicks in Po-Eun above waist height before!
I felt the win to Korea was deserved... not as showy, but technically more correct. Opinion in the team is divided, so I won´t stress the point. But Korea was awarded the gold.
Noemi Prone is sort of a heroine to Argentinian TKD fans... of which there were a lot in the audience. They started booing and whistling. Loudly. (Whistling is bad over here.)
That was the last pattern in that ring, so the judges stood up to leave. The booing redoubled. 4th Dan male patterns begain in the other ring... they did two patterns, and by the time they´d finished, the audience was still booing, or chanting "AR-GEN-TINA! AR-GEN-TINA!" (Don´t know who they were cheering for - it was USA vs Korea in the ring...)
Ah yes... USA vs Korea. USA - Marcello Cancelliere. Captain of the US team in St Petersburg, and probably here as well. Very, very nice patterns. Downward kick that scares small children when they see how far back his leg stretches. Korea - that 4th dan who was awarded a victory against Graham in the first round.
In St Petersburg, Marcello came up against a Korean in the semi final. That Korean was a lot better than this one, and Marcello was better than both of them. In a repeat of last time, the better man lost. Poor Marcello is pretty upset about it.
But it´s okay... if the judging made sense, he´d have been losing fairly to Graham in that final. Marcello´s good, but Graham really is sensational.
The announcer then read out all the patterns results. Unfortunately, he eventually got to 4th Dan female. As he read out "1st place... Korea...", the booing started up again. And kept going. Argentinians can be irritating sometimes... (like the idiots who light flares and run around cheering inside a building... grrrrr...)
Male sparring and Male special technique finals happened simultaneously. Nothing particularly interesting in the sparring until Hyperweight... I´ll get to it.
Special technique was done in alphabetical order... Argentina first. He broke the high kick, the mid-air kick (*that* one was impressive... he made it look easy!), and the reverse turning kick.
He hit the board for the turning kick, but it didn´t break. His coach started complaining about something to the officials. You see, you get one attempt, no break, no points. But the caoch was complaining about the holder moving, or the lights being in the jumper´s eyes, or something. Who knows.
The Argentinian was lining up for his overhead kick, when they replaced the board for turning kick and gave him another attempt. Grrr. I´d like to see any other country get away with that. He broke it. Four for four...
But when he did his overhead kick, he knocked over the rear obstacle, and landed on his butt. Hard to perform a proper guarding block sitting on the ground! (Ask Jon Sawden...) The home crowd were cheering that he´d broken the board, but there´s no points the way he did it...
Czech broke every board (losing one point out of three on the turning kick for not breaking it clean through) - the only country to do all five. Poland and Korea both broke four, failing the mid-air kick... Poland knocked it askew, and Korea overshot... both had the height, but neither broke the board.
No other country broke more than three.
Men´s Hyperweight - the German, Andreas Hamper, actually asked us if we could perform a haka for him when he fought. We were a little intrigued at the idea, but our voices were all gone from earlier in the day, so we had to decline. Besides, it´s for the Kiwis...
But we did cheer for him. Most interesting part of the match - the Pole went for a lunge and fell out of the ring. Unfortunately, the ring was Ring 4, up on a stage... and the edge he fell out was on the end of the stage. The German coach dove to try and catch his, but was not in time before he fell off the end. But no harm done... he got up, shook hand with his opponent, and carried on.
The fight went to a third round, and for a while it looked like the Pole had the advantage... throwing a lot of flying punches every time Hamper closed with his own fists. But the result went to Germany... a new World Champion!
I saw Stephen Tapilatu - another Big Name in sparring - discussing the third round with him afterwards... he seemed to be pointing out that while the Pole was throwing punches in the air, the were very short, ugly, bent arm hooks, while Hamper´s body punches were nice, straight and sharp. May have made the difference in scoring.
A breakoff between Korea and Poland in Special Technique followed. Why only two? Korea, Poland and Argentina all had four breaks... unless they didn´t count Argentina´s turning kick...?
Anyway, the heights for all kicks were increased and they took a shot at each.
High Kick - both missed. Reverse Turning Kick - both broke. Mid-Air Kick - the Korean broke, but landed on two feet and one hand. No break. The Pole was a good foot below the board. Overhead Kick - the Korean knocked over the far obstacle. No break. The Pole elected to forfeit this kick. Turning Kick - both broke.
The judges decided to continue with turning kick, increasing the height for each.
At 2.60m, both broke.
At 2.70m, both broke.
At 2.75m, both broke.
At 2.80m, the Korean missed. The Pole touched, but failed to break.
On their second attempt at this height, the Korean missed... and the Pole broke! Finally! (These two guys broke more boards than the whole Men´s Power Breaking competition... of about 700 boards attempted, the whole competition broke about 10...!)
Women´s Special technique followed, with four competitors in the final... it looks like Korea won, with Czech and Poland taking the other medals, but I´m not sure on that one.
And then the medal presentations followed. 18 divisions, four medals in each. Flags raising on a winched bar. National anthems playing. (Julia Cross´ Scottish anthem on bagpipes and drums was pretty cool, but we got soooo sick of the Korean song...)
We were waiting for the breaking medals so we could cheer for Graham... and at 10pm, we were told they would be presented tomorrow. Aargh!
Anyway, I´m off to bed... Team Special Technique in the morning. Let´s see if we can make it two
I don´t have full results for Special and Power yet... but I *can* tell you that Bronze in Male Power Test is New Zealand (Graham Patterson)!
Individual Patterns and Sparring Medals
Gold : Korea
Silver : Poland
Bronze : Czech
Gold : Korea
Silver : Czech
Bronze : Canada
Gold : Korea
Silver : Argentina
Bronze : Czech
Gold : Korea
Silver : Argentina (Noemi Prone)
Bronze : Uzbekistan
Tajikistan (Nigina Curbanova)
Gold : Uzbekistan
Silver : Malaysia
Bronze : Czech
Gold : Uzbekistan
Silver : Korea
Bronze : Canada
Gold : Russia
Silver : Argentina
Bronze : Canada
Gold : Korea
Silver : USA (Marcello Cancelliere)
Bronze : Argentina
Gold : Netherlands (Bianca Tapilatu)
Silver : Czech
Bronze : Argentina
Gold : Scotland (Julia Cross)
Silver : Korea
Bronze : Argentina
Tajikistan (Nigina Curbanova)
Gold : Korea
Silver : Argentina
Bronze : Brazil
Gold : Germany
Silver : Korea
Bronze : Argentina
Gold : Korea
Silver : Uzbekistan
Bronze : Germany
Gold : Korea
Silver : Brazil
Bronze : Kazakstan
Gold : Slovenia (Tomas Barada)
Silver : Russia
Bronze : Argentina
Gold : Brazil
Silver : Puerto Rico
Bronze : Netherlands (Stephen Tapilatu)
Gold : Poland
Silver : Greece
Bronze : Argentina
Gold : Germany (Andreas Hamper)
Silver : Poland
Bronze : Canada (Pierre Guenette)
September 4 - Saturday - Day 13
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS DAY 7 - Individual Finals
10pm... we´ve only just got back to the hotel from the tournament. Better than last night, anyway.
Should I tell you now, or later?
Oh, okay, now.
NEW ZEALAND MEDALLED!
Details to come later. Aren´t I evil?
September 3 - Friday - Day 12
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS DAY 6 - Individual Preliminaries
Okay, so technically it´s Saturday. 1am. Don´t worry, I´m not competing tomorrow.
It´s late, and talking about the Opening Ceremony would be boring. I´ve got notes, I can fill it in later. Essentially, the opening was long and boring... there were no demonstrations from the different continents as planned, which means NZ didn´t get to do the Haka. Again. So I´ll skip to this morning... Individual Competition.
There are four rings at Luna Park. First event up was Male Patterns - one dan per ring.
Graham was one of the first 4th dans to compete, with the unfortunate first round draw of North Korea. Korea is a dominant force at World Championships... frequently more so than they deserve, but it´s reasonable to expect their 4th Dan Patterns will be awesome...
Graham annihilated him. In every possible way. Korean was hunched, Graham was straight. Korean wobbled, Graham was steady. Oh, Korean just sucked, and Graham was awesome. If you don´t believe me, watch the video. Like Before and After pictures for learning Moon-Moo. The Toi-Gye (designated) was closer, but Graham still had it in the bag.
Win to Korea.
It wasn´t just Graham... the Korean beat Brazil (who was still nowhere near as good as Graham, but better than the Korean!), and Argentina made it through a couple of rounds we weren´t sure about.
Korea vs Argentina was amusing. The Argentinian was better than the Korean (*everyone* was better than the Korean!), but when the judges handed in their score sheets, the jury called "time out" and went to talk to more senior officials. Maybe he´d forgotten the policy... is it Korea, then Home Country,
then whoever deserves to win? Or Home Country, then Korea?
Evidently Korea´s more important... he won. Through to the final versus USA.
Graham was the equal at least of the best in that division. He should be in that final. Politics suck sometimes.
My first round was against Wales. We both did Yoo-Sin for optional, and designated was Joong-Gun. I like Joong-Gun - it was Cilla´s pattern at the Nationals, so I´d done extra special amounts of work on it. It felt good, and it was enough to win the first round.
Second round was against Finland. Designated was Kwang-Gae. Icky. It didn´t feel like my absolute best performance, so I wasn´t too surprised when Finland was declared the winner. All the kiwis, however, tell me I was much better than he was! I haven´t seen the video yet, so I can´t comment. But I watched the semi final for my half of the draw, and I´m sure I was as good as either of them :(
Justin was the victim of a paperwork mix-up. Japan was entered twice on the draw accidentally, so where Justin thought he had to compete against Japan early on, he actually had an extra Bye. He ended up warming up, then having to try and stay warm for three and a half hours, not knowing exactly when he was scheduled.
He eventually took on Czech Republic, performing Kwang-Gae against the Czech´s Ge-Baek. He feels now it was a poor choice on the mats... it´s hard to slide slow motion movements gracefully on the jigsaw mats, and Kwang-Gae can´t show the same power as Ge-Baek does. Designated pattern Choong-Moo was far better... Justin was even or perhaps slightly better than the Czech there. But
it wasn´t enough to make up for the Optional. He did a great job, but lost. A fair result.
Laura - sporting "Baby Spice" pigtails - was our sole sparrer of the morning. We didn´t tell her, but her German opponent was the current Lightweight World Champ. (We found this out when Nicola Mitchell, while having a cigarette with the German coach, managed to divert the conversation to his lightweight
sparrer... along with the Title revelation, he also let slip that the girl had a sore stomach at the moment... oops!) Laura launched out on Sijak with a solid turning kick to the German´s stomach, and didn´t back down. She was outclassed by someone who´d been a world-class competitor for as long as Laura´s been training... but it was far from a walk in the park for the German! Laura gave as good as she got, landing a couple of wake-up call punches to the head, and *grinning* in a most disconcerting fashion!
She lost the fight, but she and the rest of the kiwis were ecstatic over how well she´d done - against a world champion!
The German lost later on to the Korean, who is through to the final.
The other finalist is Julia Cross, Scotland´s only competitor at the Champs. She´s a favourite of the kiwi team... very fast, very good. Another of Willy van de Mortel´s proteges at present.
In her first round vs Chile, she landed a vicious reverse turning kick to the head, dropping her opponent and earning a yellow card... then doing it again with a back kick. Perfect timing, and the Chilean walked right into it. When she got up again, the ref decided she couldn´t continue, and awarded the match to Julia.
Second round against Peru, I remember one perfect punch that slipped straight through the poor girl´s guard and smashed her to the mat. Julia won that round easily too.
I missed her fight against Brazil, but the semi final vs Argentina was very close. Somehow she managed to overcome the home team advantage, winning the round to make the final. Will she repeat her silver from St Petersburg, or take home the gold? We´ll find out tomorrow...
Men´s sparring started shortly after. The Lightweight match Colombia vs Canada was scary to watch... Canada landed a nasty dodging back kick to the Colombian´s groin early on. There was also a gorgeous tornado kick that caught the side of the Colombian´s head full on... ow!
The end result was odd. The match was awarded to Canada. Then a minute later they were called back in, and the ref took their hands... just before he lifted Colombia´s, the Canadian stalked out of the ring. He just made the mistake of doing this while General Choi was in the stadium... and Master Leong, close by, took great offence at this.
His face went a pretty red while he yelled at the Canadian guy... it was nifty to watch. Don´t upset this man, people!
Master Leong also got involved after one of the Tajikistan Lightweight´s early fights. The fighter was yelling a lot with his attacks, and the jury ordered the ref to give him warnings for it. He had trouble breaking the habit, and clocked up four for that alone. The ref seemed unhappy about it, but he had
After the fight, Master Leong was seen telling off the ref, pointing out that there is nothing wrong with kihaps during sparring. In the next fight Tajikistan had, with the same ref and the same jury, he yelled as much as he wanted, and the jury said nothing...
Aaron was scheduled to fight Korea-in-Japan. The draw was soemwhat confused - they were calling the fights in a different order to what was written down, somehow, so like Justin, Aaron was warmed up far longer than he needed to be. But eventually his turn came.
We all doffed shirts and performed a haka as he waited to be called into the ring... Aaron stared down his opponent across the ring, occasionally joining in the movements of the haka. Impressive to watch.
In the ring, he was even more impressive... the KFJ just couldn´t catch him, and he landed several good points himself. It looked like a cinch.
Win to KFJ. We were getting a bit sick of this.
Meanwhile, patterns were still going on... as a general rule, the 3rd dan men and the 4th dan women seemed fairly poor quality. Noemi Prone from Argentina put in a performance that disappointed those of us who´d heard so much about her. Fortunately, the 3rd dan women were generally excellent... good to see *some* world-class patterns at a world champs!
Tamaiti and Nikki were left to compete. Tam was first, taking on Sweden.
He did well... we performed another haka to help psych him up, and it must have done the trick... it wasn´t a high scoring fight, both doing a lot of dodging and parrying, but Tam landed a couple of good flying punches that clinched it.
Win to New Zealand. Hooray!
It was another hour or so before either of them were up after that... and when it finally happened, it was both of them at the same time in separate rings!
What I saw of Nikki´s patterns vs Poland was very good - optional Ge-Baek, designated Dan-Gun. I thought she looked better than the Pole... people who were watching more closely confirmed it. We´re not sure how she lost that round :( We seem to be getting more than our share of odd results :(
Tamaiti had the USA fighter in his second round. USA was a lot taller, and Tam didn´t manage to get inside that reach to score. Unfortunate, but this loss seemed a fair one.
A couple of other bouts of note - Paul Germain from Canada drew Korea in the first round... and was eliminated! A first round loss for someone with Germain´s record is scary... the bout was even scarier. Two very fast, very powerful, *very* good fighters.
Stephen Tapilatu is through to the finals also, beating Argentina convincingly on the way.
That´s all I have for now. We´re still in 6 events... still have shots at 6 medals. Let´s see how it goes tomorrow!
Male Lightweight Sparring
1st Round : Loss vs Korea-in-Japan
Male Middleweight Sparring
1st Round : Win vs Sweden
2nd Round : Loss vs USA
Female 1st Dan Patterns
1st Round : Loss vs Poland
Male Heavyweight Sparring
Male Hyperweight Sparring
Male Power Breaking
Female Power Breaking
Male Special Technique
Male Team Event : Special Technique
6 medal chances left!
UPDATE - Saturday 4 September 8.00 am NZ time
Male 4th Dan Patterns
1st Round : Loss vs North Korea
Male 3rd Dan Patterns
1st Round : Win vs Wales
2nd Round : Loss vs Finland
Male 1st Dan Patterns
1st Round : Loss vs Czech
Female Lightweight Sparring
1st Round : Loss vs Germany
Competing this afternoon :
Nikki Mantjika, Female 1st Dan Patterns
Aaron McIlwee, Male Lightweight Sparring
Tamaiti Brunning, Male Middleweight Sparring
Full stories tonight.
Hey all (2/9)
Thankfully Matt has been keeping you all up to date with faxes, having little luck finding a simple Internet link.
We have been busy for the last few days, competing & cheering.
The bus ride to Rosario was fairly uneventful, aside from most of us getting drenched just before getting on the bus. Once aboard, it took only a short while for the whole team to fall asleep. That basically was the trip.
Driving through the early stages of Rosario created a bit of apprehension amongst some, with block upon block of corrugated iron slum areas. Fortunately the middle of town was better.
We stayed at Hotel Savoy ("Saveloy") which was a fantastic old building, grand hall ways, brass chatels, antique furniture in each room, high ceilings, and polished floors. A little run down, but a terrífic place.
We turned up at the Rosario Provincialle Stadium on Tuesday morning (travelling bus taxi - somehow the bus ticket selling place had run out tickets - for a bus that comes every three minutes - Toyota..). We were directed to a room the size of a basketball court, where we lined up beside the other 16 or so countries and waited for the formal march on-march off thing. Grandmaster Rhee Ki Ha and Master Choi Jung Hwa were the dignitaries in Rosario.
For the better part of the competition the Kiwi´s cheered for the underdogs - the teams with little or no support to speak of, while the Argentinian public turned out to cheer for their own team (who certainly looked strong).
I would tell you some of the results of the competition, but my attention to detail is not the same as Matt´s (at least, I can´t fit my handwriting onto small cards like him), so I´ll leave him to fill you in.
We got knocked out of the Team Pattern by Puerto Rico, who were strong; knocked out of the sparring by Brazil, who have made it into the final; Aaron Lange quailified us for the Team Specialty Technique final on Sunday with a 2.6m Flying High Kick (made to look easy!!); We didn´t make the power qualifier (I missed the six board side kick, along with every other team..)
The Lads all sparred well, Ry first - a close fight that left Ry with a bruised nose; me second - an even fight that was apparently won in the last 20 seconds or so (I can´t really remember the fight at all though (funny how that happens) - I´ll have to check the video); Justin sparred third, again another close
fight that saw a delay in the result, two judges being called to the Jury to check their scores. Not a bad effort.
There was a bit of confusion with the power test - the initial ruling was that a team had to only break one of the six boards to qualify. The rules then changed - all six had to be broken. Nobody broke all six. Rules changed again - back to one board to qualify. In the end, only 2 or 3 teams qualified. Gonna
make for a quick day on Sunday at the finals.
Weigh in this morning for the individual sparrers, all ok except Laura, who was entered in the Lightwieght division due to her replacement of Jeanette. Laura, thinking she was a middleweight, got a bit of a shock when she found she was 500g over the lightweight division cut off she was entered in. Unfortunately she cannot be put up a division for some reason, so she has been sweating the extra weight off all morning. Cross your fingers.
Individuals start tomorrow. All but Hong and Ian do their stuff tomorrow - those two have a busy day on Saturday.
Opening Ceremony tonight, we should be doing the Haka there, set the crowd off...
September 2 - Thursday - Day 12 - 1pm
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS DAY 4 - Weigh in and Opening Ceremony, Buenos Aires
The individual sparrers have headed off to weigh in... no breakfast for them! The rest of the team are recovering from the bus trip, writing updates, shopping, or keeping people waiting while they watch soccer.
("NEVER KEEP A WOMAN WAITING WHEN SHE WANTS TO GO SHOPPING!" - anonymous and irritated team supporter. )
We´re meeting at 2pm to find out what´s happening tonight... at 6ish there´s a "Fiesta", but it only lasts an hour, so it can´t be much of a party... followed by the Opening Ceremony. If they liked the Haka in Rosario, imagine what a bigger crowd will think when we do the longer one, with six or seven more people, with our shirts off!
That´s it for now... Individual Competition begins tomorrow! Wish us luck...
September 1 - Wednesday - Day 11
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS DAY 3 - Team Preliminaries
We decided rather than staying the extra night in Rosario, we would indeed go back tonight... several of the kiwis are finding the dust around here irritates throats and sinuses, and want to get away from it. Fair enough... it means we don´t need to rush in the morning, even if we will be travelling until about
Every morning in this city, just about every shop throws a bucket of water onto the pavement outside their door, then sweeps the watwer into the street. That´s how much dust there is...
Our taxi ride to the venue this morning was my scariest yet (although it doesn´t compare with the crash the others had last week...) - our cabbie was actually *reading the paper* on his way through busy intersections and so forth. It turned out he was trying to find an article on the competition yesterday and the Argentinian team for us. Yikes!
When we arrived, we found there had been some changes to the program. Since there had only been one qualifying country for Women´s Special Technique in Rosario (we don´t know about Mar del Plata), those who missed yesterday got a second shot this morning.
Argentina - we´d seen her practising when we arrived - broke the board, and started jumping and waving her arms joyfully. Rua - one of the judges - turned to the jury and gave a "No Break" signal - in her elation, she´d forgotten to perform a guarding block to complete the technique!
The Argentinian coach immediately put in a protest... arguing with the jury... paying the required 200 peso protest bond... and one of the Argentina camera crews brought down their video camera to show the appropriate piece of footage.
The discussion after that seems to have been along the lines of whether "landing with your hands kinda up" qualifies as a guarding block. We saw Rua demonstrating a strong, clear block - evidently saying that he felt the rules required a definite taebi makgi - and the discussion went a while longer.
Eventually, Argentina qualified, and the 200 peso bond was returned. (If you lose your protest, you lose your money.)
One other country... Uzbekistan or Brazil, I think... touched the board, but no others qualified. Apparently two from Rosario is enough, since no more attempts were made.
Female Team Patterns - we only saw one match, so maybe the other teams didn´t enter. Uzbekistan and England obviously couldn´t, since they don´t have five people, but we don´t know about Brazil or Germany.
Czech Republic were *sharp*. They marched on, traditional communist-country fashion, stompstompstomp ("Oh, no, more stormtrooo-pahs," Jamaica lamented beside us...), in perfect time... did a strong, very sharp pattern, stomped off. Argentina had a job ahead of them.
And they rose to the challenge... they weren´t as sharp, but they were *interesting*... a little like our plan in St Petersburg, they played around with different directions to get effects with the shape of the team... but still strong, and still in perfect synch.
Hard to pick.
On the designated pattern - Won Hyo - I would have said Czechs had an edge. But a slight one. (Argentina marched on and off diagonally - very cool!) And a slight edge isn´t often enough to beat the home team advantage.
Wasn´t this time, either - Argentina won. Czech girls were later seen in tears... it´s an understandable feeling.
Men´s Team Sparring!
Dad would be horrified - they had three rings, but so far they hadn´t used more than two... and that consecutively! (One match would finish in Ring 3, then the next would start in Ring 2!) There was a lot of sparring to get through, so we could have been there a long time. We were the first fight on the second draw... so we assumed they´d run two rnigs and we´d be up straight away. We got all warmed up and worked up... Alan Gillon borrowed Lawrence´s tag so he could come on floor with us (the resemblance is remarkable... if you turn the tag backwards... :) )... we were ready as we´d ever be.
After the first match in one ring, they broke for lunch. At 11:40 am. Until 3:30 pm. Go figure.
My sparring bag was just a little small, so I bought a new one with the Champs logo. Nearly got a great deal - must have been the same girl who sold Andrew his T-shirts... I gave her $50 for an $18 dollar bag, and she counted out a two, three tens, and a fifty in the change. But the other girl caught the mistake before she handed it too me. Ah well :)
We went to McDonalds for lunch, then headed back to the venue to wait for a couple of hours (that´s where the last couple of faxed updates were written...) Andrew was delighted when a team of three Kiwis and two Jamaicans thrashed five Argentinian kids ("They weren´t kids! They were 18, 19!") 7-2 at
soccer. Highlight of his trip so far :)
After lunch, we warmed up again. Andrew Salton gave us a bit of a pep talk - "Chris - be aggresive! Matt - be aggressive! Justin - be aggressive! Ry... uh, just be yourself!"
We went into the stadium and got ready to take on Brazil. Up in the stands, our supporters and teammates performed a haka - some of the crowd tried to drown them out with cheers for Brazil, but it just wasn´t gonna happen :) And the rest of the crowd went absolutely nuts when they finished! (Foreigners *love* a good haka, folks!)
Ry was first up, against a Brazilian about the same build... in the first flurry, the Brazilian countered Ry´s kick with a very fast reverse turning kick to the head... but Andrew had told Ry it would happen, and his hands were there to parry it. The Brazilian sidestepped to catch his balance, and caught Ry in
the face with a hard reverse knifehand... carrying it through to a grab to prevent a counterattack. (It seems to be a common trick this year - score a point, then step out of the ring or grab hold to get the ref to stop the fight. You get a warning, but your opponent can´t score back...!)
Ry´s nose was bleeding, so there was a brief timeout to get that stopped. Ry demonstrated admirable control - didn´t lose his temper, fought the way he´d been training - but didn´t manage to make back the slight lead the Brazilian had opened in two minutes.
Graham was next, against a taller opponent. Beautiful fight - for those of you who´ve never seen Graham spar, it´s lovely to watch. He scored with several gorgeous double- and triple-kick combinations, keeping pace with someone with a longer reach. In the last twenty seconds, however, the Brazilian landed a flying punch - side kick combination that went unanswered... we think that must
have been decisive.
Justin "Ju-Ju" Jessett was our third fighter. The Brazilian dominated the centre of the ring, knowing his distance very well, always managing to be a few inches away from Justin´s attacks. But Justin was the master of the fighting retreat in this bout, scoring with a pair of jumping back kicks. (One was
good. The other was *spectacular*! Go Ju-Ju!) Justin recieved four warnings - one for falling over David Sutrisna! This totals one minus point... the count-up of points took a long time, with two judges being called in to confer. It must have been close! But that minus point must have made the difference... the decision went the other way.
3-0 Brazil. Game over. [sighs] Sorry, New Zealand... we tried...
The update will continue soon - as soon as more computer access becomes available! Lots of great moments from the rest of the Team Sparring competition to come!
September 1 - Tuesday - Part 2
As each country was eliminated from Team Sparring, they had to perform their qualifying break - 6 board side kick - for Team Power Breaking.
Of all the countries to attempt so far, only Puerto Rico had broken anything - and they only broke one board. But we were confident that Graham´s a legend.
But he bounced! And now we know why nobody was breaking - they had one of those free-standing steel monstrosity board holders, and it lifted off the ground when he hit the boards. We watched other countries break, and it did the same thing... haven´t the organisers figured out that walls don´t move?
Slovenia fought the Czech Republic in one of their early rounds. The Czechs are a strong team, and the Slovenians were giving away a lot of height (they´re all short, but strong looking...), so we were interested to see whether Willy van de Mortel´s coaching was worth what he gets paid...
I tell you, he´s certainly taught his boys to punch! I would have called the Slovenians the underdogs, but their timing for darting in and landing a few solid punches before getting back again was impeccable! The Czechs went down... not bad for a country I´d never even heard of before...
There was an interesting fight in the Uzbekistan v Uruguay match. One of the Uruguayans was huge... well over six feet. He was fighting a little Uzbekistani... a real David-Goliath matchup. (There are no weight divisions in Team Sparring... you can enter six hyperweights or six microweights if you
want...) They spent a long time bouncing just out of each other´s reach... Goliath daring David to take on his front leg side kick, and David trying to fake a rush that would draw a response from Goliath so he could get in close. (They each got two warnings from the ref for not sparring...) Finally, David made his move... and the expected side kick whistled out for his head. David responded with a vicious reverse turning kick... his head dropping down almost to his ankle to avoid the side kick, and the reverse turning kick landing just above Goliath´s belt. Beautiful... but his hand went down as he did it and he got a "falling" warning, so I don´t know if it scored.
Doesn´t matter. It was cool anyway.
Regretfully, it´s very, very hard to make up that sort of reach disadvantage, and Uruguay won.
Tamaiti noticed that the Jamaican fourth dan has the same competitor number Tam wore in St Petersburg - 111! How´s that for a bad omen, huh? :) (If I get knocked down, call the number on my butt...)
They were finally running two simulataneous rings, so our attention was a little split. We knew when the English took the field against Germany, though... Argentina do *not* like England. The home crowd booed a lot as they entered the arena.
Meanwhile, Argentina were taking on the KFJ. (How do I explain Korea-in- Japan? Even I don´t understand it. Essentially, North Korea sends a team, Japan sends a team, and the KFJ - Koreans who live in Japan - sends a team. Dunno.)
The North Koreans tend to be a bit reclusive, a bit arrogant. Okay, a lot. Sure, they´re very good... but nobody really likes them much. KFJ, on the other hand, really seem more Japanese than Korean. They´re awesome - they do patterns like Kosuke, they´re *very* fast in the ring, they´re cheerful and
approachable, and they´re mostly pretty small. (Hwoarang is tall, kinda, but very light... tall for a Japanese, anyway.)
The KFJ ringside was right under Jamaica and New Zealand... and the home crowd were obviously in favour of Argentina. So the Kiwis´n´Jamaicans decided to look after the Koreans´in´Japan. They obviously appreciated the applause... it´s a lot of pressure when thousands of people are cheering for your opponents...
We´ve noticed there´s a certain official who always seems to be on the jury panel whenever Argentina is competing... he was there when Tajikistan had two suspect draws in Team Patterns, he was there for the no-guarding-block incident in Women´s Special Technique, and he was on the panel now for the KFJ match. Coincidence? Or something more sinister? We´ll keep an eye out and watch if
the pattern continues...
First round. KFJ scored an early clear point, then got a warning for dancing around wavnig his hands. Can´t do that :) But sometimes it´s worth the warning... ;) We thought he had the edge, but the decision went to Argentina. (A slight edge isn´t usually enough to beat a home team... has to be
decisive...) The Argentinian displayed some style, though... when his hand went up, instead of the boring old jump-for-joy, he executed a lovely backward somersault. Home crowd loved it. (Gotta hand it to the Argentinians - they´re definitely putting on a good show for the cameras. They always look good when they march out, and warm up in very fancy fashion... Oh, and they´ve got blue hair, like the Auckland North team :) )
A short stocky KFJ fourth dan took on a tall Argentinian next. Highlight of the match was when KFJ picked him up in a bear hug... but he didn´t really make up the reach disadvantage during the match, and knew it - he wasn´t surprised when the result went to Argentina.
Remember "Ogre" from "Revenge of the Nerds"? Ray Jackson from "Bloodsport"? Add six inches, and you´ve got the biggest member of the Argentinian team. The guy´s a monster.
This titanic leviathan of humanity was matched up against... Hwoarang!
The man is lovely to watch... there was one perfect jumping back kick in there that showed you why he was the person chosen to represent TKD on Tekken 3. But speed and grace wasn´t enough against brute power this time around.
A couple of the girls got great photos of the KFJ team standing around their flag, looking up at the Kiwis... Sherylene has a couple of their signatures on the back of her shirt (including Hwoarang, of course :) ).
Looking across to the England-Germany match - it´s still going! They were up to the sixth round, having ended in a tie after five. All of a sudden, the German pulled out the Flying Back Kick from Hell. Caught the Englishman on the jaw as he was moving in. He hit the deck.
Wow. I don´t think anyone got it on video :( It was nasty.
First aid came in, and woke him up... soon the Englishman was ready to continue, a pad on his chin making him look like Hannibal Lector. The German was chasing after that jaw again... you could tell all his punches were aimed to hit that spot! Two minutes ended, and the match went to Germany.
Side note - Rua Kaiou seems to be an important guy at this tournament. He´s frequently spotted in senior officiating positions.
Croatia (it´s so confusing! In an Argentinian accent, Croatia is "Crousshya", and Russia is "Rousshya"... we can never tell who they´re calling!) took on Brazil next, having defeated Jamaica in the prelims. They had a couple of wins or draws, taking it to round 5, but Brazil won the overall match. Go, Brazil... show the world it´s not just anyone who takes down the Kiwis...
Germany v Argentina. Once again, the Germans were under the noses of NZ and Jamaica. It took them a while to realise anyone was actually cheering for them - with that crowd, it must have seemed the whole world was against them - but they definitely appreciated the support, occasionally turning round and smilling, or shaking their fists above their heads, or waving their hands to drum up a little more applause from us :)
Round one - a win to Germany! They were happy, we were happy... Argentina didn´t like it.
Round two - the German fourth dan took on the Titanic Leviathan. First five seconds, the Ogre landed a turning kick to the German´s head. He went down like a brick. Graham has it on video. Yow.
Home crowd went nuts. But he got up again (shortly), and was ready to continue.
We couldn´t believe it - he got a falling warning! Where´s the yellow card for Argentina, ref? (A couple of people think they recognise the ref as a famous Argentinian TKDin - but I don´t remember the name. Argentina reffing Argentina? Is that right?)
We felt the German performed magnificently, and were upset when he lost... we had it going the other way...
Round three. German beanpole vs Argentinian stick. Tall, lanky guys. A good bout... and most of us had it fairly clearly going in the German´s favour. Graham taped it, we can watch it again.
A win to Argentina. Huh? That´s 2-1 to the Argies. One more and it´s over.
Argentina put in next - their fourth dan. The guy who beat Paul Jermaine in Malaysia. If that name doesn´t mean anything to you, Paul will have to put up an article on the greatest Taekwon-do athletes in the history of the Champs, ´cos Paul Jermaine is at the top of the list... (how ´bout it, Paul? They had a section on that in the Champs book that got sent out...)
One of the Germans obviously wanted to take him on. The coach didn´t want to put him in. (Some of the kiwis remember seeing him lose a round earlier in the day when he lost his cool and went a bit nuts...) He begged the coach for about five minutes. And eventually, he got his chance.
It was lovely. The Argentinian was good, but the German wanted it more, or something... even when he lost a point for the most tender "excessive contact" we´ve seen all day, he stayed in control, and took his points where he saw them.
Lawrence has this bit on video, we think - at one point, the ref called break, leaping in between the two fighters, facing the Argentinian. The Argie´s hand came up, *behind* the ref, clocking the German on the jaw, hard. His face registered stunned surprise for a moment... then his eyes rolled back and he
keeled over, hitting the mat with a thump. And the ref saw nothing! But with a quick conferral with the judge, he deducted the point. (A couple of people think it was a bit of Hollywood on the German´s part... I´ll have to watch the video again to decide...)
In the end, the judges couldn´t argue with a masterful display of sparring - a win to Germany!
The Germans were ecstatic - a lot of hugging and jumping going on.
2-2. Final Round.
The victorious German was spotted at the edge of the ring, hands clasped, eyes closed, praying... "Just one more... please, just one more..."
It didn´t happen. The Argentinian was taller, and faster, and a little better. Win to Argentina. Match to Argentina.
The Germans were upset, but we made sure we let them know that *we* knew who´d really won that match. We got photos of the Team again, letting them know NZ and Jamaica supported them...
Brazil beat Tajikistan - my favourite team :( - in the fifth round. Well done to a young, spirited team on getting so far... bad luck on getting eliminated. But at least the Brazilians are through to the medals - we can say it was one of the best teams that eliminated New Zealand!
Final match of the day. Final event in Rosario. Argentina v Slovenia.
Argentina is a tall team, with the home advantage and a long Taekwon-do history. Slovenia is a relative unknown, at least to us, with a major reach disadvantage and no home crowd. And Willy van de Mortel.
And after the Argentina-Germany fight, I think every other team was in support of the Slovenians. I counted New Zealand, Jamaica, Brazil, England, Czech, and Tajikistan at least, cheering for them. And of course, the Germans, who had come up to join New Zealand to watch this match.
Round one. Argentina put in the Ogre. I didn´t see this fight, but talking to Graham and a couple of others, the Slovenian had it in the bag.
Win to Argentina.
Round two. Argentina´s back-flip boy versus one of the Slovenians. (They all look almost interchangeable anyway :) ) Slovenia *took him apart*. He made it look like he could have beaten the Argentinian with one hand tied. Scoring in my head I had a score of 14 - 2 even before the end.
If this result had gone to Argentina, I don´t know what would have happend... but Slovenia won.
Round three. Argentina´s fighter was the won who had won he crucial last round against Germany. And Willy´s boys did it again - stayed cool, stayed out of range of Argentina´s legs, and zipped in to pummel him with solid fists at every opportunity. Argentina lost his cool a little, and that was certainly
the wrong thing to do.
Win to Slovenia. 2 - 1. Keep going!
Last round - the Argentinian beanpole. The Slovenian almost seemed to only be using one technique - dodge to the side and throw a hook - with the occasional kick to follow through a good punch. This match was closer - didn´t look to me as decisive as the last two. Would it be enough to overcome the home advantage?
Win to Slovenia. Match to Slovenia. The crowd went very quiet... the other teams went berserk! Willy van de Mortel and the final fighter got picked up and carried around on shoulders. Happy boys.
Argentina, meanwhile, just looked... devastated. Half of them were walking around the edge of the ring with their faces in their hands... the others were lying on the ground staring at the ceiling...
And then, as if to add insult... "Argentina must perform... Power Break..."
Naturally, it was the Titanic Leviathan who lined up on the boards. (It can´t be easy to concentrate with all those people yelling at you...) And he bounced!
Ry accidentally yelled out "YES!", and then tried quickly to hide in the crowd...
We had some native standing next to us yelling something in spanish - it was probably something like "You suck! You´re a disgrace to your country!" The poor Argentinians didn´t really look like they were going to recover quickly...
The German star who´d beaten the fourth dan arrived during the last couple of rounds, to many handshakes and hugs from the Kiwis. He got a photo with all the girls from our delegation, and Sherylene got him to sign the back of her shirt.
He wanted to sign the front, but Sherylene was firm. Uh, that is, Sherylene said no.
Rosario competition was finished. There were some demonstration items from some local black belts... a truly awful Po-Eun, some kiddy vs a 4th dan self defence (a la Bus Stop), some boring breaks, and a quite nifty one... two people each holding a board, doing simultaneous flying side kicks to break the other board. Demo Team, start practising that one. Finally, a couple of guys in suits doing a self defence skit. That was kinda cool.
We caught taxis back to the Savoy to meet our bus back to Buenos Aires. Our four hour trip became five and a half when we got a flat tire an hour out of BA... we didn´t get in until about 2:30 am.
Ah, the Presidente! Working toilets! Email! Yay!
(The toilets in Rosario! At the stadium, we only found one that flushed! Even that one - the one the officials and masters were using - had a centimetre of water... or something... on the floor, and a stack of newspapers in place of a toilet roll. Boy are we glad to be back...)
Bed time. More later.
August 31, Tuesday - our Day 10
World Champs Day 3 - Team event preliminaries
Breakfast at the Savoy - two medalianas, a glass of orange juice, and coffee. A far cry from the Presidente... We were told that buses left from across the road, travelling out past the stadium 24 hours, every 3 minutes. "Perfect", we thought! However, when Carmen went to purchase tickets at the bus stop kiosk, they had run out! (at 8 in the morning?). We ended up catching taxis - not a lot more expensive, and quicker. FAR quicker - our taxi alone nearly crashed twice, and we heard similar stories from the other cars, what is it with taxis here !?
Rosario.. Stadium Provincial. Wow. We're really here - the World Champs. Other teams were here too. And Laura's jaw dragging on the ground demonstrated HER approval of some of them :) While waiting for the opening parade at 9am, we observed the other teams. KTFJ were stretching - flexible! and practising patterns (their kicks are too high.) Brazil and Argentina were sitting on the floor duelling with clap rhythms back and forth. The Jamaicans had cool hair. For those of you who know Willy Van der Mortel - he's coaching Slovenia this year! Everyone's favourite mercenary dutchman :) He certainly gets around. The parade kicked off with a brass band, followed by teams in alphabetical order (except Argentina, who went last). Next the Argentinian anthem was played on traditional instruments - guitar, pan-pipes, recorder and drums - followed by speeches, and speeches... long ones, all in Spanish, except Choi Jung Hwa, who spoke in English, regularly interrupted by translators.
After the opening, we went to warm up and practise our team pattern. Several teams did not enter patterns - we guess they just wanna spar! Chili was one of these, which upset Carmen (her husband is Chilean). In the preliminary round, New Zealand lost to Puerto Rico. We just didn't have "it" in the ring - our last rehearsal felt better than the performance, and Puerto Rico were strong and sharp. In their next round, they took Russia to a draw, losing the tie-breaker. (Ask me about their Gae-baek when we get back ! It was cool :) ) Uzbekistan vs Jamaica was interesting to watch. UZB is Eastern Bloc, very stiff, communist march, stomp stomp stomp ! While the Jams looked very cool and relaxed, slow march...
NZ and Jamaica have set up in adjacent areas, and we're getting on great. Members of both teams, UZB and Jamaica, were wearing singlets under their doboks. Centre judge had a word with them, so they had to strip off... The ladies in the audience appreciated that, particularly Laura!
For the Tekken fans out there, the Captain of the KFJ team is the Hwarang model. More on him later (he's *very* good!) Tajikistan vs Argentina was a controversial one - tell you all about it in the next update. When we come back - lunchtime shennanigans, women's team sparring! Men's special technique! Do you dare miss the next installment?
Tuesday - Our day 10 - part 2
Team Patterns, Tajikistan vs Argentina. Tajikistan did Gae-baek, Argentina did Po-eun. Designated was Toi-gye. Argentina was a little stronger, but the Tajiks were sharper, better, more in synch - and one of the Argentinians made an error. Score sheets were collected and counted. Soon the jury called judges up to confer. More discussion. After several *minutes* - a draw! Second designated pattern - Chon-ji. Tajikistan looked cool. The result - a draw! Third designated pattern - Po-eun. (isn't that the Argentinian optional?) By now Jamaica and New Zealand were cheering loudly for the Tajiks. Argentina did their pattern - same as before - and then a senior official came down to talk with the jury. For a while. Then he went away, and the Tajiks did their Po-eun. It was great. Finally - they won! Well deserved.
Lunch at the venue opened traditionally for meals here - dry bread rolls with no butter. You'd think with all the cows here someone would have invented butter. Lunch was a cheese ravioli... edible enough. Hong mistook the trigger of a soda bottle for the spout, spraying tonic water all over Barbs. He'll live it down one day. Well.. maybe. At lunch, Laura wanted to get Hwarang's autograph, but was too scared... (She got over it eventually.) She was distracted though, when she discovered the Czech men all lounging around topless... dragged Sherylene over to look too... Andrew got a bargain at the souvenir shop.. the poor girl working there apparently flunked J2 maths, charging him $10 for 3 T-shirts and a sweat-shirt. One of the Tajik girls has taken a liking to the New Zealand "funny hats", begging (we think) to swap something for one after the tournament.
After lunch, a couple more team patterns. In a very odd decision, UZB beat Tajikistan. (after all they went through ! :( ) KFJ blitzed Russia - we saw "Hwarang" do Hwarang!
An informal vote by the team has determined that we have the coolest tracksuit - (unanimous). Second place goes to Argentina's sunburst on blue and white, followed by Jamaica in black, with flashes of fluorescent yellow and thinks-it's-a-real-colour green (watch "Cool Runnings"). Honourable mention to KFJ, England and Germany.
In men's special technique, Aaron Lange demolished a board to qualify us for team finals. Only a few teams were eliminated. In women's, however, only the Czech girl qualified! Women's team sparring - England and Uzbekistan displayed either confidence or desperation, entering teams of 4 and 3 respectively... (England could only afford to lose one bout... UZB had to win three in a row ! ) Argentina, however, wiped them both out, hardly breaking a sweat in the process. Those girls are *fast* ! Czech made a stunning comeback against Germany, coming from 2:0 down to win 3:2. This brought an end to the day's competition.
It's Nicola Mitchell's birthday - let's see some emails! Nikki Mantjika is having trouble ordering food - her attempt to order pasta with a meat sauce resulted in one plate of pasta, and a hunk of meat *in* sauce. Poor girl...
We hear we're on TV tonight at midnight. If anyone's awake to see it, we'll tell you how it looked...
Sparring tomorrow... Look out, Brazil, here we come... !
Update for Aug 30 - Monday - Our Day 9
World Championships Day 2 - Travel to satellite cities.
Bus was scheduled for 2.30, so we went out for lunch. It was very grey - looked like rain - so most of us had our jackets on. Not Loz though - "the weather can't hurt us" he pronounced, T-shirt clad. The thunderstorm was very impressive. After catching taxis back to the hotel, we (well, most of us) hung our jackets in the lobby to dry. They were mostly wearable again by the time the bus arrived.
The bus trip took 4 or 5 hours. Once you get out of the city, Argentina is very flat and very green. We're not sure *why* they have so much grass - we didn't see nearly enough animals to eat it all. The roads were mostly long and *straight*. A little like driving through Canterbury. Almost everyone slept at least some of the trip. A few of us who were awake saw a row of billboards all declaring "Barbara" in huge letters - when we turned to point them out to Ms Inglis, we found nearly the whole bus asleep! Midway through the trip we stopped at an "Esso" gas station. It had a*Huge* forecourt.. and one poor guy with the sysyphian task of sweeping the dust off it. Good luck!
Tonee was bemused by the different flavours of Fanta - we saw orange, lemon and tonic water. The girls were distressed to discover the woman in the toilets, selling the only paper available at US$1 for a small folded section. Looking up, we saw the sun was an eerie red colour (Loz has it on video !) The end is nigh!
The trip was made slightly more expensive by the toll gates we had to pass through. To give you an idea - a 20 minute taxi ride within the city might cost 5 or 6 pesos. The 1 hour'ish trip to the airport, passing through several toll gates costs 50! There were about 5 tolls between Buenos Aires and Rosario, adding 30 pesos to the bill. Sidenote: the pineapple here tastes funny. Very bland. Maybe they harvest it less ripe?
We reached Rosario sometime after 7pm. The roads here are bumpy! We passed some * very* ramshackle suburbs on our way in. We even saw a cart pulled by a burro! Dust, everywhere. We reached the hotel, and waited outside while Carmen (naturally) went inside to do a deal. (Naturally again, with all those kiwis around, the rugby ball appeared!) Carmen decided that $27US a night was not good enough, so she and Lawrence went to check out another hotel down the road. Very basic, but spacious. And Carmen talked them down to $18 a night! Consequently, we're spending Wednesday night here as well - saving $70NZ'ish each - and travelling back to BA early Thursday morning.
The Savoy hotel is about 4km from the stadium - maybe about $1.50 by taxi each. Rosario is * cheap*!! A steak meal that might cost $10US in BA is $5US here. Some of the supporters have taken a liking to the 970ml "Brahma" beers - $4 in BA, $2.50 in the Rosario restaurants, and * $1 * in the mini-market across the road ! (That's a good deal, I'm told !) Has the music video "Zorba's dance" hit NZ yet? We saw it in the restaurant tonight, and it's brilliant! If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil the surprise! Some of the taller guys are complaining about the Savoy's short beds. What do they expect for $18 :) We now have our patches to sew on with our competitor numbers. Competition begins tomorrow.
This is just a taste - we're keeping detailed notes and will let you know the full story when we get back to Buenos Aires.
There will be updates of our travel day, both days of competition, and anything else that happens between now and then.
For now, we'll just tell you that we all made it to Rosario in one piece, and are staying at a cheap hotel (Carmen did another deal :) ).
First day of Team Event competition has happened - New Zealand lost our Team Pattern against Puerto Rico, but we have qualified for the Special Technique Finals in a few days. Tomorrow Graham has a six board side kick to qualify us for Team Power, and we have our Team Sparring against Brazil.
Sorry to make this so brief, but it's costing us money, it's late, and we're competing in the morning... we promise full details when we get back to Buenos
Talk to you
August 30 - Monday - Day 9
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS DAY 2 - TRAVEL TO SATELLITE CITIES
We´re off to Rosario! It´s about lunchtime here... Carmen has chartered a bus to take us to Rosario, leaving from Buenos Aires about 2:30. It´s a five hour trip or so...
Hotel Presidente is being wonderful - they´ve set us up with one of their sister hotels in Rosario at a 15-20% discount, and have let us use one of the rooms here to store luggage we don´t need to take with us at no charge. They´re great!
We´ve received our official name tags and numbers - we´re 162 (Graham) through to 174 (Laura). Tamaiti was particularly happy with his (1)69... :)
It´s raining here again... something about Mondays in this city! We´ve have very hot days since Wednesday or Thursday, but today should be a nice cool day for travelling...
Poor Tonee... you´d think he´d have learned something from Laura about the futility of taking on higher dans! He´s been in the "Salton Special" headlock half a dozen times this morning... "It really hurts!", he says, but has he stopped trying? Crazy. :)
Hotel has been much quieter for the past 24 hours or so - we had a sudden influx of people a couple of days ago when an Aerolineas Argentinas flight was cancelled (minor problems, but enough to ground the plane) and 150 people were put up here for a day. The flight was to Auckland! - so there were quite a few kiwis wandering around, and wishing us luck...
About the time the bus to the airport for their makeup flight was due to leave, the lobby was packed... 150 people can really tie up three elevators, especially when one of them breaks down...!
Anyway. That´s all from us ´til we get to Rosario... we´ll try to get online somehow to let you know what happens...
Wish us luck!
29/8 - A slow day today. Started with more training in the morning, much the same as previous days.
After breakfast it was basically a case of waiting to hear when we should be moving to the Promenade - it had been agreed that we were to be called to confirm that there was room in the hotel.
Turns out that there was no room in the hotel, and that the hotel weren´t expecting us to arrive at all. Oops...
We decided to move back into the Presidente, so checked in for another night.
Carmen, Andrew and Lawrence went to the draw at 3:00pm, only to find that the Judges and Officials meeting had run over time (to 4pm). Thus, the draw started late.
I went to join them at 6:00pm for the ITF Congress meeting. When I arrived the draw had only just got under way. I met Master Rene Serref, and Messers Birkhart, Steadmen, and Alfatagato (please excuse spelling!) outside - I learnt that the congress meeting had been pushed back to Thursday 2nd. Toyota. I returned to the hotel to join the team. We decided to go for dinner, rather than wait for the others to return. Just as well, they didn´t get back until late. Matt has already published the draw - it looks good and fair.
Carmen worked her magic again later on to sort us out for transport and accommodation in Rosario, as we were not able to be worked into the¨"official" arrangements due to us staying at a third party hotel. All sorted by this morning (30/8)- the Presidente help by getting quotes from hotels up in Rosario, and Carmen arranged a bus to pick us up. If it wasn´t for Carmen I think we would probably be sleeping on the streets and missing the team events...good skills on her part.
So, we are off shortly - updates may slow down, but we will be sure to let you
August 29 - Sunday - Day 8
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS DAY 1 - THE DRAW
For most of the team, today was fairly relaxing... not every shop is open on a Sunday, so there wasn´t much shopping to be done. We trained in the morning as per usual (plus a haka practice), then went to breakfast.
After breakfast, the team pretty much did their own thing... some of us went up to bed and crashed... some watched TV (we´ve seen some diverse shows in Spanish here - everything from "Mork and Mindy" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" through to "Celebrity Deathmatch")... some wandered around town a bit.
Aaron and Tamaiti went down to the Plaza (Laura´s bronze statue) and sat around soaking up some sun... they chatted to a few of the locals, and watched Team Germany train. (Germany wiped out our Men´s Team Sparring with three straight
wins in St Peterburg.) This year, the boys tell us, they aren´t looking to be anything special... they watched the Women´s Team Pattern training - several of them forgot Chon-Ji! Oops!
A lot of us went back to Ugi´s for lunch - $US2 for a large pizza is probably the cheapest food we´ve come across here. (McDonalds - a small fries or small coke works out to nearly $NZ3!)
More of the same between then and dinner... sleeping, shopping, relaxing... for dinner, we decided to wander the streets until something caught our eye. It happened in the form of a local passing out flyers... he accostd us and directed us to a buffet restaurant. It sounded okay, so we gave it a shot.
We were impressed... $US8 for an all-you-can-eat buffet, plus one selection from a barbeque menu (t-bone, ribs, chicken, pork...), plus one selection from a pasta menu, plus dessert. What a deal, what a deal.
Only downside was the fact that it was a Pepsi restaurant... but hey, they sold water too... :)
While most of us relaxed however, Andrew, Carmen and Lawrence were very busy. The Team Event Draw and the ITF Congress were scheduled for today... the Congress, however, has been put back to its originally planned Thursday (about four days away). We hear the poor officials from Austria are upset about this - they were planning to arrive on Thursday, but when the date was changed, they had to rush onto a plane. Now they´re here, and there´s no meeting until then... *not* happy!
Our Management Team went to the building where the draw was to be held (at 3pm) at 2:30. They waited for two and a half hours in the lobby - the hall didn´t open until 5. (Lawrence and Andrew made good use of the time - they´re now officially experts in the Haka! :) )
New Zealand was drawn for Rosario, with Argentina. Korea was selected for Mar del Plata, and sixteen other teams drawn to accompany them. (Argentina and Norh Korea are the two top seeds for the competition.)
Although this seeding concerned us when we first heard about it, looking at the draw we´re fairly convinced there was no odds-stacking going on - it appears the organisers really are going out of their way to keep things fair.
New Zealand has Brazil in the first round of sparring - a tough draw, in Russia they were very big and very fast... from memory, they made it to the semi- final, and general opinion had it that they should have won that round too... - and Puerto Rico in patterns. Puerto Rico are largely unknown, so it bodes well
for our chances in that event.
The meeting was conducted in Spanish, with an English translator... the translator reportedly had poor microphone skills and was almost incomprehensible anyway. Andrew eventually gave up and made his way to the very front row so he could lip read... and found himself acting as a bit of a relay for questions and answers between the stage and the people at the back...
For sparring, the word is "Don´t touch gloves" before competition. This matches what Master Leong told us - according to General Choi, "The bow should be enough of a salute. If you need to touch gloves, you say the Taekwon-do slaute is not sufficient!"
Master Leong also gave us sound advice for Patterns, especially Team Patterns. In previous years, there have apparently been two standards for patterns - encyclopedia patterns (middle kick is shoulder height, etc), and World Champs patterns (middle kick is as high as you can, or preferably higher!). This year, patterns will be judged to encyclopedia standards. If you kick too high, you get marked down! This matches what Master Leong told us.
Patterns will be performed Optional first, Designated second.
The Team Breaking competitions have a preliminary round - one randomly selected technique will be attempted by one Team member, and if they break, then the whole Team breaks in the Finals.
Team Power Breaking, the designated technique is Side Piercing Kick (6 wooden boards). Team Special Technique is a Flying High Kick at 2.60 metres.
Advice from our coach Mr Salton - "The boards are wooden, it´ll be easy. Don´t get psyched out... just charge it and yell "AAAAAH F¿ç%!!"
In the Finals, the breaks are as follows :
Knifehand Side Strike - 4 boards
Turning Kick - 5 boards
Side Piercing Kick - 7 boards
Reverse Turning Kick - 5 boards
Flying High Kick - 2.70 m
Flying Turning Kick - 2.40 m
Flying Reverse Turning Kick - 2.40 m
360º Mid-Air Kick - 2.50 m
Overhead Kick - 4.00 m
Many of the questions that were asked at the draw were answered with "You must go to the Headquarters to ask that." At 8:30, the NZ Management Team went there - they were the first to arrive. While they waited in the hall, other teams began arriving - soon they were packed in like sardines. NZ needed to ask details of transport to Rosario, especially, but after an hour, they gave up. As they were about to leave, they were called back and taken into the office.
From the accounts we´ve heard, this would have been a great meeting to be a fly on the wall of...! We are still at the Hotel Presidente, and will be on our return from Rosario also (hooray!) - the Promenade is full, so we cannot move in. This, despite the fact that back on the 23rd, we agreed that we would comply with the organisers´wishes, and told them to book us for the Promenade for the 29th. They tried to tell Carmen that we were in the wrong for this.
Andrew and Lawrence don´t speak much Spanish, so they weren´t able to follow much of her conversation with Master Nestor Delarraga, but the bit "No! No, Nestor, No!" accompanied by much table-banging and hand-waving was clear enough! Eventually they conceded that it was not our fault, so they are okay with us staying here (as are we! :) ). We must find our own way to Rosario, and find our own accommodation, but this suits us also - it sounds like we can find cheaper transport than the organisers would provide, and the Hotel Presidente has offered to locate and arrange accommodation for us in Rosario. It´s all working out just fine... :)
One of the so-far unsung members of our delegation is Mr Alan Gillon, III Dan. Anyone in Auckland should be well familiar with him, and plenty of other people around the country. He´s along as a supporter, but his experience with stretching and (especially) massage is coming in handy, and is well-appreciated by the stiff, sore, and bruised people on the team. Thanks, Alan!
We´re not sure exactly what time we leave in the morning... after a light training and breakfast, it will depend on how the transport works out. We´ll do our best to find some internet access in Rosario, but... no promises...
August 28 - Saturday - Day 7 - Late
Most teams have arrived by now, we believe. The Coaches´ Meeting and the draw for Team Event - where we find out if we´re going to Rosario or Mar del Plata on Monday - is at 3pm tomorrow. (Gabriella has told us we should hope for Mar del Plata - it´s prettier.)
The General arrived yesterday, we´re told. Carmen received a phone call informing her that he wll be "making a few changes". We have no idea what that might mean!
The North Koreans were delayed in China with paperwork problems - apparently Communist passports have difficulty entering Argentina. But they arrived today. Gabriella was unimpressed - she is in charge of all the interpreters (headmistress of the language institute they study at), and she sent a couple of translators to the airport to meet the Koreans. They arrived some number of hours later than expected, then told the poor girls who´d been waiting that they didn´t want translators. They´ve shut themselves up in their hotel and refuse to communicate with anyone... where exactly is the line between competition and rudeness?
Gabriella finished telling us this, then charged us - "Just do me a favour - you BEAT them!" Drawing enthusiastic agreement from the Kiwis, of course :)
Today´s trip was to La Boca - a tourist suburb of Buenos Aires. The buildings are in traditionally Argentinian garish colours - bright solid blues, greens, reds and yellows for the most part, with some oranges and purples thrown in. (The postcards showing the buildings have the caption "Colores de La Boca", the colours of La Boca - it´s important to them.) There are a couple of streets lined with artsy-craftsy stalls and souvenir shops. Some interesting ideas... chess sets made entirely out of old keys, model bicycles made from cutlery... fancy crafts, traditional crafts... gaudy cheap jewellery, and some quite nice stuff as well...
Several of the team bought traditional leather carnival masks... sorry we can´t show you any pictures, they´re very cool. Painted pretty colours, made from
leather, papier machè, and/or hardened cloth. Nice.
Graham´s explained the restaurant incident... I wasn´t there and he was, so I´ll leave you to read his version of events there. Gabriella´s husband was furious when he found out, and went to find a police officer. I don´t know if he found on or not. Argentina - Buenos Aires in particular - depends on the tourism industry for much of its international image. When people hear the name Argentina, they´ll remember what they´ve been told by friends who have been there. The residents hate hearing about tourists being cheated and ripped off... it can only give their city a bad name.
The local fire department had arranged a demonstration for the crowds while we happened to be there. We decided it was probably supposed to be showing how they could rescue someone trapped in a car... they had an old bomb, falling to pieces, with someone slumped in the driver seat. Two fire engines approached it from either side, and firemen boiled out to go look at the car. Soon another fire vehicle pulled up, a van, and more firemen pulled a stretcher out of the back and rolled it to the car. Somewhat unsteadily, since one of the wheels fell off as they pulled it out. Aiee. Good start.
They took a set of Jaws of Life from one of the engines and took it over. Then they didn´t seem to do much for about ten minutes... maybe the jaws weren´t
We figured if it had been a real emergency, the driver was already dead, and wandered off. Encouraging demonstration. Remind us not to get in any car accidents. (Alas, speak of the Devil... read on...)
We all got ready to leave, after collecting the few people who had been tied up in the restaurant drama and wanted to look at at least a couple of stalls before going. About to hail a cab, we realised Wy Goldfish was missing. (Honestly, hasn´t that boy learned not to go off on his own? You´d think *one* experience with gun-toting pimps would be enough! Oh. But if you want to know the rest of *that* story, you´ll have to ask him yourself.) Laura eventually found him, and dragged him back to the group.
We hailed down five taxis (You do that here! Just like on TV!) and made our way to St Elmo... another small shopping square. A couple of the Nookie Gang bought sunglasses there, I believe, but in general it was fairly uninteresting.
From there we walked to a marketplace in a park... some of the same sort of things as at La Boca, but maybe a little less touristy and a bit cheaper. Quite nice.
Thinking I could trust Nikki Mantjika´s judgement, I asked her what size she thought a pretty skirt was. "About a 10 or 12... it would fit Cilla fine," she declared. When I bought it, I started to have doubts, though... it looked smaller than it had on the hanger. (Even Gabriella thought it was small, and I´m sure the upcoming "Nookie Report" will have something to say about the average female waistline here...) Double-checking with Laura, I was told "No, that´s about a 4, or a 6." Surprisingly, the stallkeeper was happy to take it back and refund the cost. (The stalls around here seem fairly mercenary at times...)
We ran into Team Tajikistan at the exit to the park. Tajikistan were in St Petersburg, and many of the team members were the same... Justin will have his work cut out, ´cos the First Dan Patterns Champ from 1997 is still a First Dan... Tajikistan in Russia was a young team - every member was between 16 and 20 - but they took six medals home with them. I remember them as on of the best-spirited teams from last time. It will be good to see them performing again.
Back to the hotel... we again hailed several taxis and returned to the Presidente. Remember that devil I spoke of before? Ian, Sherylene, Gabriella and little Aldana bounced off another car on their way home. No injuries, fortunately, but an unpleasant experience for those involved.
There were three major groups for dinner tonight. Carmen took several people out to a flash restaurant - they aren´t back yet, so I´m glad I didn´t go out... it sounded expensive, and it´s definitely bedtime.
Loz, Nikki and I went to McDonald´s with Gabriella, her husband, and the little girls. Quite well-behaved for munchkins. Argustina loves to point at our little mascot and cry "Kiwi!". Cute :) Over dinner Gabriella lamented some more about some of the disorganisation she´s encountered so far in the setup for the tournament. More on that soon.
The rest of the team grabbed some quick takeaways and rushed upstairs to watch some rugby game. Hang on... it´s the... Bledisloe Cup. Thanks, Aaron. Unfortunately, morale dropped severely when New Zealand was crushed 28-7 by Australia. Rugby´s apparently important to some of the guys here.
Okay, organisation problems.
We still don´t really know whether we´re checking out of here tomorrow or not. When Team Canada arrived, the organisers apparently discovered they had neglected to reserve any accommodation for them. But there were some spare rooms at the Promenade, that New Zealand were not using... so we don´t know if there´s anywhere else for us to go yet. We may need to stay here. Damned shame.
When New Zealand were the first team to arrive in St Petersburg two years ago, we had to help them work all the bugs out of their check-in system at the hotel. Consequently, we spent about five or six hours waiting around in the lobby for our rooms to be prepared. We thought *that* was bad.
Quite a few teams have already had a six hour wait to get their hotel allocations. The Kiwi management team spoke to the coach of the Haiti team today at the Tournament Office. He arrived a day before his team - they get here tomorrow - and all his luggage is travelling with them. He has a small overnight bag and the clothes he´s wearing - t-shirt, no jacket. He´d been standing in the foyer of the tournament office since 6am when our people talked to him at 8*pm*. "We´ll be with you soon," he´d been told all day.
Gabriella doesn´t even know what hotel the Koreans are staying at... she keeps track of who´s where by where her interpreters have to go. But the Koreans dismissed their interpreters before going to their hotel. Strange.
When the management team went to the office to get their copy of the itinerary for the next few days (it´s changed a little bit from what´s on the website), they were told there was a problem - the computer was down and they had no paper for the photocopier, or something. They were given the first page and told to return tomorrow for the rest of it.
[sighs] Hopefully the actual tournament will run more smoothly.
We´ll let you know when we find out whether we´ll be here or somewhere else when we get back from Team Preliminaries.
We spend the 30th and the 2nd travelling between Buenos Aires and our Team Event city (Rosario or Mar del Plata, TBC), so there almost definitely won´t be any updates on those two days. 31st and the 1st Graham and I might be too busy to write much, even assuming we can find some internet access, so we might be incommunicado for a few days. We´ll do our best... and keep notes so we don´t lose the details on the days we can´t write!
Training in the morning, sleepytime... talk to you all later...
This morning (28/8) started with another training session similar to yesterdays. In a ventilated room this time - amazing how the body craves oxygen, isn´t it...
Having sweat through several changes of clothes, and not able to put up with sock recycling (I´ve used all of mine as much as I´d care to anyway), a team trip to the laundromat was organised, where we assailed the poor staff there with our whites and colours. We were able to drop off our dirties, have them cleaned, and collect them later in the afternoon. Beats doing the washing in the sink.
We then went for another walk around town to give those that had not yet spent enough money the opportunity to do so. Sore feet again...I think my shoes will have covered more miles than Forrest Gump in his running "phase".
Meeting back at the Hotel at 1pm, we piled into several taxis and went to La Boca - a dockside town with many of the houses painted in a multicolour fashion. The main attraction at La Boca is a craft market, where some parted with more money (great crafts though).
One of the mentionable points about this excursion was Carmen´s tongue-lashing of a restaurant waiter. Eleven of us had sitten down to eat on the street (on some tables provided by the restaurant). They had a meal offer, as do most of the places around here, something to the effect of $5 for whatever your choice from a list of a half dozen meals. Some also ordered softdrinks. We sat outside and ate - Nikki even got up and tangoed on the street with the waiter (very impressive display from Nikki). When the bill came, we found that the drinks were US$3.50 each (that´s $7 in real money!) and they had charged us all US$1.00 (total $11.00) to sit outside on the street. Well, not being one to put up with this sort of treatment, Carmen summoned the waiter and gave him whatfor. It was great - people in the street looking at our small group, listening to Carmen chew this guy out at 1000 words a minute (Spanish is a great language for talking fast and sounding mad). Anyway - we got the $11 removed from the bill.
We then headed off to another market, this time in a park. Much like the type of thing we get back at home, when the gypsies come to town.
Back into taxis for the ride home - a bit of excitement for Sherylene, Ian, Gabriella and one of her children this time - their cab crashed into another vehicle. Nothing major, but Gabriella bumped her head on the windscreen (she said she was not worried, as she is "used to it"?!). It had to happen sometime I guess...
Lawrence and Carmen have just gone down to ITF Argentina HQ to pick up the official agenda.
Last night in Hotel Presidente - we have to vacate to Hotel Promenade tomorrow, so back to the local Internet cafe´s again.
Found the Bledisloe cup coverage on Fox Sport - starts at 9pm. Gonna´ make some noise...!
woah...breaking news...looks like we may not be shifting just yet - perhaps not
enough room in the hotels - oops.
Better get going and watch the Rugby.
August 28 - Saturday - Day 7 - After Breakfast
A few more people went out clubbing last night - Wy Goldfish, Laura, Sherylene, Lawrence, Nikki, Carmen and Carolina - and it sounds like they had fun. Most got back around 4am. We hear Lawrence was quite captivated by the G-stringed pole dancer... but Nikki was there to keep him honest ;)
Sherylene´s planning to tell you more about the evening - she was there and I wasn´t, so I´ll leave it to her... despite the scary driving, we haven´t seen much in the way of actual collisions. We´ve seen dozens of very close calls... scant centimetres between cars as one whips around another, that sort of thing... and we saw a lot of people gathered around a couple of cars on the way back from Gabriella´s on Thursday. But the first crash witnessed by Kiwis occurred last night - Lawrence says they saw a green Peugeot career off a car in front of it with a loud CRASH and swerve to the side of the road. We´re surprised it´s taken this long... but we´ve decided when you know anyone on the road could do *anything* at any time, you´d be more aware of what other cars are doing around you...
Up again at 7am, and this time everyone made it to the gym by 7:30. Just as well - we had a 90 minute session planned, and another for this afternoon, but Mr Salton had decreed that if people went out dancing and couldn´t get up in the morning, we´d be training all day!
Much the same as yesterday´s session, but in a different room. This one had windows that opened and not as many lights... slightly smaller with a bit of a slippery floor, but I think everyone was grateful for the cool air... The showers in this hotel are great... you can´t get the water *scalding* hot, but it´s hot enough (people have said the same about the cafè and tè - it´s not served as hot as they´re used to...), and the water pressure is variable from light, all the way up to paint-stripper. Feels wonderful after a hot sweaty training session...
Breakfast this morning... the second-to-last we´ll have at this hotel. Soon we´ll be back on medialunas (croissants) and - oh happy day! - tostadas. Everyone´s favourite. We can´t wait. [sighs]
Today´s plan is to visit a laundrette to wash some clothes and doboks, do a little moe shopping, and then go out with Gabriella to have a look at a traditional Argentinian village. Followed by a training session, and (if Andrew gets his way) a game of soccer. Anywhere. Against anyone. We´ve been in contact with Fabian Nunez and the US team - Carmen´s trying to arrange a get-together soon. We´ll let you know how it goes.
More later - keep mailing us!
Well, I have almost two days worth of writing to catch up to Matt.
Yesterday (26/8) was the barbeque at Gabriella´s mother´s house.
We turned up to this suburban house in the late morning and piled out of the bus, at first wondering if the house would be able to cope with over 20 of us. No worries though, because it was the tardis. It streched out along a long section to a courtyard at the back. Gabriella´s mum had a special "party" room built on the side of the house to accomodate such events, so was well prepared for us.
When we got settled, the music started and bar-b smoked - fantastic. Huge slabs of beef were cooked, and then the rest of the cow was chucked on for good measure - intestines, tripe, black pudding, ribs and kidneys.
Before we ate, we were treated to a fantastic display involving a man and his accordian. He played a selection of traditional music, and even sung to us - I´ve got it on video, so you may get to see it one day...
We returned the accoridian display with a Haka, which set all of the dogs in the neighbourhood off.
We then sat down in the party room and gorged. The food tasted great, even the odd bits that one may be a little apprehensive about trying.
After a bit of a sit down outside in the sun, the Tango show arrived. One gent, and two ladies - all done up to the nines. The party room was cleared, and we arranged ourselves so we could watch several dances performed especially for us (I´ve got this on video too, so if you´re really lucky...).
Following the display those that wanted to learn the Tango were shown the basics in a solo environment, and were then let loose on each other. Some of the lads were quick to check their progress with the two female dancers, and thos that tried are now resident experts.
We also did the haka for the dancers, which was followed by a photo shoot of Arron M. and Tamaiti holding the female dancers in a "Tango" pose. Very funny.
Taxis were then called and the team headed off into the town of Monte Grande to have a look around. Some of us found one of Master Garallaga´s studios, a gym-come dojang. We met Leo from Venezuela at the dojang - he is here for the tournament also.
Meanwhile, Arron L, Chris, Justin and Tonee had managed to secure a following of young girls. The girls followed our chaps up one side of the main street and down the other, stopping at every shop the boys did. Once these two girls were shaken, the boys rounded a corner only to have another set of young girls start yelling "I love you..." - they thought we were the All Blacks. Class.
Dinner was at a Chinese restaurant up the road from the hotel. On the way to the restaurant were waved doen by a guy in a ute named Ian - an Argentinian who had spent three years in Canterbury at Lincoln university. We grabbed his phonenumber, as he offered to take those that were keen to a night club. We then walked 200 metres up the road, only to meet up with David Sutrisna from Indonesia. Naturally we invited him to join us for dinner.
At the restaurant Hong became our interpreter/negotiator, displaying his hidden knowledge of Mandarin Chinese. Very impressive - I think he even started cracking jokes with the waiters!
After dinner everyone returned to the hotel, where some made arrangements with Ian (from the ute) to meet and go boogie somewhere.
This morning (27/8) we did a training session in the hotel ball room. Not a bad training - everyone was looking sharp. Got hot though!
Training was followed by breakfast, after which we walked down to the railway station to catch a couple of trains to the outskirts of the main city. Talk about a variety of lifestyles! You could look out one side of the train and see huge (and I mean huge) mansions, and then turn and look out the other side at a corrugated iron population on the other side of the tracks. Unreal.
We went for a 45 minute cruise on a cannal (I forget the name - Matty will remember) where we saw what I assume were the holiday homes of those that have a bit of spare cash. Most were great looking little villas, while a few you could bowl over with a feather duster. The water was filthy (and smelly), makes ya´ appreciate what we have at home.
We had lunch in the sun at a cafeteria, and then jumped back on the train. We stopped along the way to look at a small shopping village, but not much was bought by anyone. We then headed home again.
On the walk home from the railway station we happened upon the German team, who had just finished training in a nearby park. We stopped and said hello, and then let them retire to their hotel (they just arrived this morning at 7am).
More training for us tomorrow, and perhaps our last opportunity to get out and about before the tournament starts. We´ll let you know...
August 27 - Friday - Day 6 - Before Dinner
7am wakeup today... at least for those who weren´t out until 5am and didn´t hear their wakeup call...
We did a half hour warm up in the hotel´s gymnasium - too small for a training session, but enough room to warm up - before moving back down to Chancellor Hall for an hour´s training.
A few people were late to the warm up - Mr Salton was unimpressed. But he´d also managed to embarass himself in the elevator just before... he was on his way down when Laura got into the lift wearing tight black pants and a black jacket. "What are you doing, Laura? How are you going to train in that?" The confused black-clad Argentinian woman turned to him and asked a question in Spanish.
Training was fairly standard, but it was our first hard session in a week or two... and since we were in a conference room, there were at least two hundred light bulbs blazing down from the ceiling. Urgh. It got very hot, very fast. Sparring drills, speed work, and semi-free sparring were followed by patterns, team and individual, and then we broke for breakfast.
Ah, breakfast :)
After breakfast we sorted out who owed whom from the payments we´d made yesterday. For example, Graham owed me $2 for the Tango lessons, but I owed Graham $9 for the bus ride. Graham and I both owed Andrew $7 for the lunch, but Andrew owed Graham $9 for the bus. Hong owed everybody for everything.
It was easy to get lost in a hail of 5 peso notes and 25 centavos coins...
The Ginger Ninjas, still feeling the sleep deprivation of the previous night and expecting it to be worse after going out *tonight*, elected to stay at the hotel today and sleep, but the rest of us had an excursion planned.
On the walk down to the train station, there were a couple of stops for photo opportunities. The first was in the main plaza in the centre of town... a large and very impressive statue almost begged to have a New Zealand team arrayed about it. The centrepiece was a huge man bearing a big sword... Laura snuggled up into his lap. After the photos she didn´t want to come down... sure, he was made of bronze, but he had biceps a foot across and didn´t nag at her... the perfect man!
The second stop was when we passed a small troop of Argentinian Navy boys standing at attention by the side of the road while an officer inspected them. Laura, Nikki and Sherylene couldn´t resist... flinging themselves at the sailors while commanding others in the team to take photos. It was comical watching the poor sailors glancing sideways at their officer... we could almost hear them thinking "Are we allowed to do this? ... *please*, are we allowed to do this?" But once the officer moved into shot, they relaxed and gathered round enthusiastically.
Just as well we were in a hurry to catch our train, or the girls probably would have chased after the brass band a hundred metres away, too...
We´re gradually getting the hang of crossing roads around here, even though indicators are optional, traffic lights are guidelines only, and the phrase "Turning traffic give way to pedestrians" has never occurred to the local councils. The worst of the lot are the taxis... and there are over 40,000 of them in Buenos Aires. All black, with yellow roofs. Ugly things.
But we did all make it to the station in one piece, and Carmen bought 23 tickets. (Along with the team and supporters, we also had Carmen´s sister, two of her friends from Chile, David Sutrisna from Indonesia, and the Malaysian Official for the Champs, Tan Chee Chai.) She gave them out to us, warning us "Don´t lose these - you need them for the trip back!"
We rode this train to the end of the line, then switched trains. Another train, another ticket, and another warning not to lose it.
All the way to the end of this line as well. It ran along the coast, so we got to look out at the ocean and the boats... quite pretty. The train line terminated at an amusement park, "Parque de la Costa", with an IMAX screen, roller coasters, ferris wheel, etc. Fairly Rainbow´s Endy-looking.
Also nearby was a large billboard with three twenty-foot tall lingerie models depicted. The "Nookie Gang" (Tonee, Justin, Aaron L, and Chris) decided to pay back the girls for the Navy pictures by having several photos taken, posing in front of the sign.
It looks like these four boys are going to feature more often in this context, so along with the Spanish phrases and translations we´ve been providing, here is a quick glossary of "NookieSpeak".
- "Back Yourself!"
* I dare you to do something suicidally stupid.
- "Ya Gimp!"
* You fool.
- "What a Gimp!"
* I think the person you are talking about is a fool.
- "Look at that Gimp!"
* I see a stranger.
* Tonee Francis.
- "Ya Leper!"
* See `Ya Gimp´.
- "Ya Mule!"
* See `Ya Leper´.
- "Ya Mule Leper Gimp!"
* You utter fool. (cf `Ya Gimp´.)
- "I´m all barred up!"
* My [censored] is [censored].
- "Nookie Dance, guys!"
* Let´s make fools of ourselves in public.
I told you you didn´t want to know.
Not far from the Parque was the river, Rio Tigris. We paid for the 40 minute cruise and hopped on board a ferry.
The water was brown, smelly, and had a lot of garbage floating in it. Ah well. The ride itself was slow and relaxing... we saw numerous wharfs and jetties - it looks like almost every property along the banks has its own - in various states of repair. Some places we could only tell there´d once been a building behind the bushes on the bank by the remains of a wooden pier. We also saw several herons... in flight they look exactly like a $2 coin.
Well, almost exactly. You know what I mean.
Lawrence and Nikki had a photo taken while reprising the "I´m flying" scene from Titanic. For some reason, though, they didn´t want to encore with the "I´m freezing" scene from the end. Ah well.
Returning from the boat ride, we had lunch at a restaurant beside the theme park. We thought Carmen had done a great deal for us, but now we´re not so sure... there´s a difference, you see, between a "steak burger" and a "steak sandwich". A burger is the piece of meat that goes *in* a sandwich. Not quite what we were expecting. But it was food, and it was fairly cheap... no harm done.
We checked the admission price of the Parque, but at $US18 per head, we figured it wasn´t worth it for only a half day... especially when most of us were tired...
So we got back on the train, planning to stop at a shopping mall part way back.
Remember those warnings? Lawrence lost his ticket.
El stupido, no?
But it was okay, it didn´t seem to be a huge problem. The problem was when we realised we´d left Carmen´s sister and one of her friends behind.
We got off at the shopping station, and decided we´d spend 45 minutes there, in which time hopefully the two wayward ladies would realise the problem and get on the next train. (Another expensive touristy mall, for the most part.) 45 minutes later, the train started to pull in... Nikki, Sherylene and Carolina showed up just as it arrived. (We were worried...) And the ladies were on it! Unfortunately, Carmen´s other friend (husband of the missing one) had gone back to the Parque to find them. So now we were missing him!
By the time the next train arrived, everyone was present. Gah. Finally.
Another two long train rides, and we made it back to the centre of town. On the walk back, we saw a large group of green tracksuits in a park... Team Germany! By the time we made it over there, all but three had left (they´d just had a training session and were off back to their hotel), so we had a quick chat to them. In their hotel, they tell us, they´d met USA, Egypt, Nepal, and a few others.
Now we´re back at the hotel... dinner soon. More later...
August 26 - Thursday - Day 5
A frustrating morning - the hotel´s webserver was down and we couldn´t check our mail...
Breakfast was great, but that goes without saying. After breakfast, we set up another Haka practice (even the people who´re having the most difficulty with it are finding it´s starting to stick!)... based on yesterday, we banned Tam and Aaron from being in the room. (Some people found it was easier to remember the words without being screamed at... ;) )
Gabriella arrived with the bus, and we all got ready to go out to the barbeque. The bus ride was about an hour... it felt great to get out of the city. Where we are, everything is multi-storeyed... we went out past the huge university, plenty of green around... made a nice change.
Out in the suburbs, the houses are low and narrow... but the look can be deceptive. Pulling up to Gabriella´s mother´s house, the first thought was "How are twenty of us going to fit in *there*?" But the building extended a long way further back than our New Zealand experience would indicate... there was definitely plenty of room.
The last few days have been grey and even rainy, but today was brilliant sunshine. It´s as if someone knew we were having a barbeque and prepared for us...
Gabriella´s husband was busy cooking when we arrived, and her non-English- speaking mother seemed very happy to see us. She put some music on, and began to dance... then demanded a partner. She began with Gabriella, but then told her to sit down. "She needs everything to be *perfect*", Gabriella told us... apparently her own daughter did not measure up. Lawrence bravely stepped up to the challenge, and she seemed to enjoy that, but he had no tango experience, and was still not perfect enough. But she seemed content to wait until the professionals arrived later. We also met their two dogs... tiny adorable rodent-like creatures. What is it about this place? Lots of dogs, and they´re all either itty-bitty things, or horses in disguise...!
Gabriella´s three children - Emilio, 10, Aldana, 5, and Argustina, 4 - were the next to show up. Emilio is a red stripe - he treated us to a (slightly rusty) rendition of Toi-Gye (with a little help from the sidelines) and earned some applause. The two girls were unspeakably cute... Argustina reminded some of us of a younger Portia McPhail... :)
We soon learned a couple more Spanish phrases... "Basta!" (Stop that!) and "No Juego!" (I´m not playing with *you*!) when Aldana repeatedly threw them at us. Gray might have wished he´d known those ones when she hurled his $NZ225 Oakleys into the bushes... but no permanent harm done... :) (Oh, she wasn´t really a horror... just... spirited ;) )
Gabriella had arranged an accordion player to come and demonstrate his art for us. It was an impressive display - the instrument has thirty-eight small buttons for each hand, and a thumb lever on the right - none of which are actually visible to the player - and three independently concertina´d compartments. On top of that, he was using his legs to keep the accordion balanced as its centre shifted, and singing at the same time. No simple melodies, either. He certainly earned his applause.
We were asked what our national music was so he could play for us, but we couldn´t really come up with any suggestions. So instead, we demonstrated the Haka for him and the family. For our first public performance, we were certainly happy with the way it turned out. And the audience loved it. (Sherylene was seen teaching the first three or four hand movements to one of the littl´uns... nobody tell the Spice Girls!)
Next was lunch... the Argentinians seem to use just about every part of the cow when they throw a barbeque. The ribs and rump looked safe enough, but it was the more adventuresome among us who attempted the kindeys, intestines, black pudding and tripe...
Soon the tango troupe arrived - a tall man named Mariano (Laura gives definite approval, for the Diocesan girls who were asking about cute guys...), a woman in a black dress named Cristina, and one in red named Vanesa.
Mariano alternated partners, demonstrating two tangos with Cristina, and a waltz and a milonga (traditional Argentinian tango derivative - much faster than classical tango) with Vanesa. For those who attended the Fiesta night in Auckland before we left, there was something missing there. This had a lot more excitement and passion... drew in the audience more. ("That and the cleavage", adds Graham.) There were more of the fancy jump-up-on-the-knee and lean-at-impossible-angle moves, and the calf flicks came thicker and faster.
After the demonstration, the dancers taught a ten minute tango workshop - Vanesa and Cristina teaching the girls´ part, Mariano teaching the guys - and then those who´d decided to learn spent a few dances trying out their new skills. (Gabriella was impressed by how quickly the girls learned, but "The men," she confided to me, "they are atrocious!" But by the end of the workshop, several had earned high praise from her, particularly Lawrence and Aaron McI.)
After the dancing had wound down, we were convinced to demonstrate the Haka again, since the three dancers had not been present for the first rendition. Shirts off, lots of noise, plenty of red pecs and thighs... we did NZ proud. (Proud enough than Tam and Aaron swung a photo with the two girls in impressively Argentinian tango poses!)
We caught taxis into Monte Grande - the suburb´s shopping centre - and spent an hour wandering the local craft shops. The prices were generally more reasonable than in the city, and several people made purchases. Justin, Tonee, Chris, and Aaron L made two interesting discoveries - the first was an ITF dojang, reportedly very well set up (although there was only one person training there when they visited). They said there were photos of Master Delarraga doing cool stuff all over the walls. The second was a trio of young ladies in white jackets passing out car bumper stickers. The four arranged a photograph with them ("Those are the three most beautiful women I´ve ever seen" was a quote from one of the quartet), and rewarded them with a run through the "Nookie Dance".
Trust me, you don´t want to know.
We made our way to Gabriella´s house, just around the corner from her English Institute (most of the translators for the Champs come from the school at which she is the headmistress), and went inside for tea or coffee. She showed us around the second house under construction in the back of their section...making special note of the wine cellar, her extra-large kitchen, and the space her husband has reserved for a whiskey-and-chocolate fridge.
Soon the bus arrived, and we headed back to the hotel. All this small change is killing us - $8 each for the Tango show and lessons, $7 each for the lunch, $9 each for the bus there and back... and most of us only have $US50 notes... it´s even worse on the occasions when we´re told "Not US dollars, only pesos!" But fortunately there aren´t too many of those.
We made it back to the hotel to discover the internet connection was back up... yay! Five emails to the team since midnight yesterday!
On our way out to dinner tonight, we happened across David Sutrisna in the street... he is representing Indonesia as an official. There is no Indonesian team this year. He came with us to dinner... most of us went to a Chinese restaurant ("Casa China - the Real Chinese Food in Argentina"), while a few went out for pizza.
A few people are going out to a disco tonight, some more planning on going tomorrow... but they won´t be out too late, because we´re training at 7:30am. Holiday´s nearly over... we´re getting into tournament mode in a serious way.
We´ll do our best to convince on of the girl´s to write an update - we´ve had some complaints that there isn´t enough from a female perspective. (Apparently hearing that Laura likes someone´s butt isn´t enough for you people! ;) ) No promises, but we´ll try
More tomorrow... got to keep our public happy!
August 25th - Wednesday - Day 4 - After Dinner
Remember those taxi drivers? It seems they all found Laura rather fascinating... asking Hong if maybe he could set them up with her. Despite the visions of free transport around the city the rest of us have, she seems rather uninterested. We´re not sure why... don´t think more than one or two of them were over sixty...
For those of you following the Wy Goldfish story with interest, he was successful in getting his travellers´ cheques replaced. Ry was able to purchase a leather jacket from the Goldfish Fund, and is looking very stylish tonight out on the town with Aaron, Tamaiti, and Sherylene´s bellboy. (It´s confirmed - Laura´s bellboy and Sherylene´s bellboy are one and the same.) Of course, that may get Mr Goldfish into more of the same trouble he was in in the first place...
.. but if you want to know that story, you´ll have to ask him yourself...
Poor Mr Salton! He´s doomed to never get his soccer game... The park they were planning to play in is actually a ten or fifteen metre wide grass strip on ne of the median lines a quarter of the way across the sixteen lane main road outside the hotel. After we got back from the leather factory, they´d just set up to play, when a policeman came past and told them they had to move. Since he didn´t speak English, they still don´t know exactly *why*, and it´s driving Andrew nuts...
We went out to dinner in two groups tonight... some went Asian, and the rest of us returned to Chelo (from dinner day 2) after another tour of the shopping district. On the way we ran into another team - two boys from Team South Africa. They tell us there are ten in their delegation, nine male and one female.
At dinner at Chelo, Hong had the good fortune to be seated on the end of the table, less than a metre away from the nice young Columbian lass sitting alone at the next table. He struck up an amiable conversation, which fortunately kept her distracted while certain *others* (names withheld to protect coaches and children) at the far end of the table made suggestive comments and admired her miniskirted legs. Honestly, you wouldn´t want to be caught in public with this team... at least when there are ladies around...!
The advantages of ordering in Spanish were demonstrated when one flan (what the Argentinians call the Creme Caramel dessert... not what we´d call a flan at all) arrived with much thicker, sweeter caramel sauce than the rest - what the locals call "dulce de leche". (Thanks, Helen ;) )
Most people are in bed now, I believe... a couple of us are still up wrestling with the ´net connection. One of the staff members at the Internet Cafe we visited on the first night told us that the local server has about 10,000 connections per modem. Sometimes, it´s not too bad. Other times, it *crawls*. (The other night, Tamaiti gave up after *eleven* attempts to create a Hotmail account.) Tonight is one of the bad ones.
The Ginger Ninjas, of course, are out on the town. With luck, they´ll be back before Gabriella and the bus arrive tomorrow morning to take us out to the barbeque.
Stay tuned... your normal broadcast will resume after these messages from our sponsor...
Breakfast at the hotel has been awesome the past two days - a buffet of cereal, fruit, toast, and all sorts of sweet and sticky stuff.
Following this mornings nosh up we had another Haka practice. We then braved the subway to go to a shopping mall somewhere. There is certainly no shortage of señoritas in this place - enough to make all of the lads go cross eyed (or at least suffer a mild case of whiplash). A few of the boys have even been caught taking discreet photos of some of the passers by, and some not so discreet photos (sitting on the couch in the hotel lobby with their arms around some of the other hotel patrons)...it´s all good.
After returning from the mall we all hopped into cabs that took us to some leather factory shops for free (some arrangement with the shops - the cabbies bring the customers, the cabbies get a commission instead of charging the customer). About ten jackets/coats were purchased as quite reasonable prices.
Apparently the USA team has arrived - Nikki saw about 5 people walking down the street in red, white and blue TKD jackets. Apparently the Koreans are having trouble getting here due to problems obtaining a visa, so are currently stuck in China.
The seats in front of the PC´s in the hotel lobby are starting to take the shape of Matt´s butt - if we ever need to find him it´s a safe bet he is keeping a seat warm. A good virtual PR man.
Lawrence has started speaking the lingo like a native, and he and I are now armed with an arsenal of naughty words. Great fun.
Tomorrow is a trip to the suburbs for a barbeque (would you like some meat with your meat?) and a Tango show. Should be good fun.
August 25th - Wednesday - Day 4 - Before
A lot of walking today... sore feet...
We arranged a 7am wake-up call from the front desk for this morning. That meant we had plenty of time to get up, get ready, and come down to breakfast, and fit in a Haka practice before heading out at 10am.
Breakfast was, in true El Presidente fashion, excellent. We were all finished at breakfast before 9... 9 was when Gabriella, our guide for the day, was scheduled to arrive. Our plan was to wait until 10 to see if the TV studio called, and if they didn´t (they didn´t), we´d go out shopping.
Our thought was to get on the underground metro, go a few stations, then get out and go shopping... get back on the metro for another few stations, then get out and go shopping... an so on.
Gabriella suggested that this could be dangerous... not all the metro lines have the most savoury characters frequenting them. Instead, she suggested, she would take us on one of the "safe" lines to a large mall where we could shop.
While waiting for 10 o´clock, we had our Haka practice. We were a little hampered by the fact that our two experts, Tamaiti and Aaron, had missed their wake-up call and weren´t answering their phone. They eventually woke up a little after 10 and rushed through breakfast while we finished the practice without them, and then we set off.
The metro was a familiar experience for those team members who were in St Petersburg in 1997... about the only difference is that the Russian system was half a kilometre underground, while the Buenos Aires metro resides only a couple of flights of stairs below street level. The trains arrive every couple of minutes - it´s all wonderfull efficient compared to New Zealand public transport.
Four or five stops later, we popped up near our destination. There was an Argentinian wearing an All Blacks jacket across the road, but we didn´t manage to catch his attention in time to talk to him.
The mall was huge... each floor was larger than a floor at St Lukes in Auckland, and there were five floors. The top floor, believe it or not, was a theme park, called "NeverLand" - it had a Gravitron, a Rainbow´s End-style Pirate Ship, and even a Ferris Wheel. Next floor down was a Foodcourt and video arcade, and the other three floors were shops.
A couple of hours were spent on shopping and lunch, then Gabriella left us so she could go and buy meat - tomorrow is the day we are going to her mother´s house for a barbeque.
Several people bought clothes and so forth, but Tamaiti and Aaron were particularly pleased by their acquisition of a Spanish phrasebook, allowing them to learn such expressions as "How old are you?" and "What is your phone number?"
On the way out of the mall, we passed a large group of Argentinian schoolchildren (4 or 5 years old)... we considered treating them to a rendition of the Haka, but decided we didn´t want to explain several dozen crying children to their teachers...
We metro´d our way back to the hotel, and Carmen contacted the taxi driver who´d offered to take us to the leather factory. While waiting for the small fleet of taxis to arrive, several of the boys ambushed the quartet of local girls waiting on a couch in the hotel lobby. The girls didn´t appear too bothered, and several photos were taken with one kiwi sitting between the four of them.
Gah. Can´t take these guys anywhere.
The taxis arrived just as Mr Salton was, once again, challenging the local kids to a game of soccer. He was most put out that he couldn´t play. The taxis took us on the roundabout route necessary in central Buenos Aires (the streets make perfect square blocks, dozens in each direction, and they´re almost exclusively one-way), but since they were transporting us free, it wasn´t so important...
We eventually ended up at the leather factory... realising as we did that we were only a couple of blocks from the Waldorf, and thus only eight or so blocks from the El Pres. We could have walked it just as quickly! Ah well.
The team ended up purchasing ten or so jackets all told... we suspect, with the amount of cash that changed hands, the owners will probably close up shop and take the rest of the day off! The taxi driver is doubtless happy too - we understand he gets a commission...
The team broke up a little at this point - the taxi drivers took some to another nearby factory, others back to the hotel (for that game of soccer...), and the remainder walked back to the hotel. On our way, we happened across three members of the Czech National Team... the first of our fellow competitors we´ve encountered so far. They flew into Argentina this morning.
Five members of the USA Team were also spotted walking along the street, but we couldn´t get their attention in time to say hello... we know that their coach is Fabian Nunez, and the full team list can be found at his website... if anyone wants us to pass on messages, let us know...
That´s it so far... if I think of anything else, I´ll let you know in the next update, after dinner tonight...
Well, not all that much action yesterday really, but some main points:
- Had Haka practice that left Hong with bruises on the "inside" of his thighs (me thinks he has not quite got the actions down-pat yet).
- We worked out a demo that was going to be on television, and then wasn´t, and then was, and then wasn´t....etc.
- Some of the rooms seem to have thin walls, as Lawrence & Nikki reported some rhythmical thumpings (and moans) on Monday night, and Ry reported the same last night. It´s a conspiracy in sleep deprivation.
- Ian got up this morning and found himself to be wide awake, so he decided to do a bit of training. After he had finished training he looked at the clock - 4:10am. Thinking he may be tired enough to catch a little more shut eye, he went back to his room and lay down - just as his neighbours arrived home from a night on the town and had a conference in their room.
- At dinner last night a few of the lads thought they´d try their Spanish on a few of the Señorita´s at the food court. They didn´t have all that much luck, so decided to indstead try their stuff on with an old lady who was sitting nearby. At least she let the chaps put their arms around her.
- Lawrence found the guy selling cat whistles last night and bought one of the devices. Tonee has his working well, but Loz choked on his and spat it out into the gutter. Oh well.
- Laura thinks one of the bellboys has a cute backside, and one of the bellhops (the same one, I think..) has fallen in love with Sherylene and has started passing notes via Nikki. Larf.
- Andrew attempted a rematch of the 1986 England-Argentina quarter final with some of the local kids in town. They were playing soccer with a ball made from a bunch of plastic bags inside another plastic bag. I think Argentina won again.
Well, I think that´s about it for now. More to come.
Thank you to everyone who has sent us email so far - it´s great to hear from you all and everyone looks forward to reading new messages.
August 24 - Tuesday - Day 3 - After Dinner
It´s been a fairly quiet evening... not much to report tonight.
The team now contains three more blonds than when we left Auckland. Tamaiti and Aaron McI decided that since they´ll be leading the Haka at the Opening Ceremony, they need to be sure the women in the audience can identify them afterwards. Ry tagged along as well. The three, already known as the "Ginger Ninjas" (it didn´t come out *exactly* blond), seem quite happy with the result.
We haven´t heard back yet from the television studio, so we don´t know when we´re due to make our Argentinian National Television debut.
Some of us went out earlier to find a supermarket to pick up some snacks and so forth. There are *dozens* of "corner dairies" around the centre of town, but not really any supermarkets. Yesterday, however, Ry and I had passed a "Mini- Market", so I offered to lead the way.
I *told* them I knew where I was going. Ha. So there.
Half the team have fallen in love with the local special dessert - a "Creme Caramel", sort of a thick vanilla custard/jelly hybrid with caramel sauce. Yummy yummy. And we found some in the dairy section of the Mini-Market. Happyhappyhappy... :)
Dinner tonight was a new experience - Carmen was off picking up her sister from the airport, so we made our way to the local Foodcourt (Galleria Pacifica), and proceeded to buy our dinner from a selection of stores *with no translator* to help. We did fairly well, I think, except poor Loz tried too hard to speak Spanish with the server at one stall, who then tried to speak English back. The man wasn´t satisfied that Lawrence understood what he was trying to say... he wanted to get the right English word. And wasn´t going to stop pestering him until he remembered it. A little judicious application of a Spanish/English dictionary to the man´s head solved the problem, though. (Oh, stop it, I´m being figurative!)
Another cultural difference - are there any fast food chains in NZ that sell steak meals exclusively? They´ve got them here.
After dinner we went for another wander around the shopping district, but there wasn´t much open. Couldn´t find the guy with the cat whistles, either... next time we see him, I imagine he´ll make a few sales.
And now most people are off to bed... probably our earliest night to date.
Other than that, not much to tell tonight.
I understand Carmen may have talked the spokesmodels from a local car dealership (¿or something?) some of the boys visited today to come and meet the team. Tonee in particular seems to be looking forward to that.
A certain female team member who shall remain anonymous - let´s call her "L.M." to protect her identity - was making admiring comments about one of the hotel´s bellboys and his nice burro (it means donkey... you figure it out...), confident he did not speak English and would not understand a word. She might need to watch out... the same guy was seen chatting quite easily with Tamaiti and Aaron, and we didn´t think their Spanish was that good...
Ian has succeeded in half his quest for the trip... he found, against all odds, a stuffed toy Scooby Doo. Shh! Don´t tell Devon, it´s a surprise.
And rumour has it that Ry Goldsmith, under his alias of Wy Goldfish, may have escaped the crushing financial blow imposed on him a couple of days earlier when he purchased not one, as previously implied, but *three* $US120 drinks. He had to buy one for both of the girls, you see. But fortunately, Mr Goldfish paid in travellers´ cheques, and the outlook on his attempts to have them cancelled is so far positive.
Our barbeque with Gabriella is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, two days away. Not sure what we´re up to tomorrow - will depend on the TV studio. If they call us in the morning, we´ll be off filming our talk show segment. Otherwise, I´m sure we´ll come up with something.
And special mention goes to Mr Scott Downey, 5th dan and president of ITF Newfoundland in Canada - our first international well-wisher on the email front. I know there are more of you out there - let´s hear from you!
If you´re enjoying reading these pages, do drop us a line... it only takes a minute, and it´s great to know people care :)
More tomorrow, on Real TKD! All Real, All the Time!
August 24 - Tuesday - Day 3 - Before Dinner
Ooh, the El Presidente breakfasts! It was our first opportunity this morning to actually *try* the food at our new hotel. And it was worth the wait.
Compared to the croissants and tostadas (hooray.) available at the Waldorf, this was divine. Crêpes, french toast, grapefruit, pineapple, even kiwifruit... bacon, bread rolls, yoghurt, creamed rice... four different fruit juices...
The team drifted down to breakfast over a wide range of times this morning, from before 8am, right up until about 10:30. (Breakfast runs until 11.) After breakfast, we mostly hung around the hotel, before a training session at 11:30 in one of the hotel rooms. (We think it´s a ballroom or conference room of some sort... the sign says "Salon Canciller", which BabelFish tells me means "Chancellor Hall". If that helps.)
Well, most people got there at 11:30. Maybe a few of us were ten minutes late. Maybe.
(Ask us about the International Circus we saw on TV when we get back. It was cool.)
The first half of the training session was a Haka practice. Revision for some, fine-tuning for others. We graduated from "pathetic" to "not bad" over the course of 45 minutes, we´re told.
By the opening ceremony, we´ll be on fire.
Second half was preparing for a brief demonstration. We were supposed to be performing for a talk show today ("Argentina´s Oprah", it was described to us...), but the scheduling has been thrown in some disarray. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. The plan is to show them a couple of patterns, a little light sparring, a couple of breaks... and if they ask for it, a teaser from the Haka. (If they wanna see the whole thing, they can bring a camera to the tournament!) We´ll let you know, when and if it happens, how it goes.
After that, the Management Team went back to the ITF offices for *another* meeting. (They may as well move into the place! I think they´re getting very sick of it...) While they were away, the rest of us split into a couple of groups for lunch... some went to a cafe near the hotel, while the rest of us went with one of the interpreters - Gabriella - to another Pizza place. Argentinian traditional pizza is very simple - a pizza base, some tomato, lots of mozzarella. Maybe a little basil if you´re so inclined. Voila. But it means they always have a dozen in the oven, nearly ready to serve... so service is quick.
We´re all in free time mode right now... scattered into small groups again for shopping and so on. A few of the guys found a store yesterday that sells imitation Team Argentina soccer shirts, and Mr Salton is jealous. We know where he´s shopping at the moment!
Some of the team are still getting a few jet-lag related vertigo effects. (People, if you´re travelling, we recommend the "No-Jet-Lag" homeopathic tablets sold at the airport. Those of us who took them are fine.) But at least the effects at the El Pres are not as bad as they were at the Waldorf... here, the elevators are very smooth. At the Waldorf, the ride was fairly smooth... until it stopped with a sickening jolt-JOLT. Particularly unpleasant for those people who were already feeling a little dizzy. Hopefully the jet-lag should clear up before competition starts.
Our plans for the next few days are still nebulous, but there are some ideas floating around. Gabriella has extended an invitation to the team to come back to her mother´s house some time for a barbeque - the house has a giant grill, her husband is a good barbeque cook, and her mother is trying to arrange a tango teacher for the team members who have expressed an interest in learning the traditional Argentinian dance. (We´ve heard dismay expressed at how the younger generation have no interest in tango - Argentinian kids these days are more interested in learning the dances they do in the States. So they were delighted that back in New Zealand, tango is still one of the things people associate most strongly with their country.)
A taxi driver also invited some of the team the other day to come out to a leather goods factory. Apparently buying from the factory directly is a *lot* cheaper than we´d pay here in the city centre, and quite a few of the team are keen to buy a leather jacket while they´re here, so this is quite an opportunity.
There are also half-formed plans to visit the zoo, to see a professional tango show (expensive, though... $US60 a ticket, we hear...), and, of course, to go shopping again. And again. Oh, and again.
We´re all meeting back here at the hotel in another hour or so to discuss plans for dinner tonight... and we´ll send another update some time before we go to bed.
So far we´ve received a fax from Palmerston North, and four emails to the team from the webpage. To these people, thank you very much, it´s great to see we have some support :)
As for the rest of you... what´s the matter, people, don´t you care about us? :) :) We expect some more mail today, or else :) And it doesn´t just have to be the kiwis... we know people all around the world read this site, so feel free to drop us a line and say hi!
UPDATE - 24 August (NZ time)
Looks like Matt may do me out of a job! I swear, he must have a shoe computer or something. Fortunately our new hotel has two free Internet stations in the foyer.
Today was spent waiting, mostly. Waiting while Carmen, Andrew and Lawrence talked turkey with the hosts and got things sorted so everyone was happy. All good.
Carmen has been worth her weight in gold with her ability to speak the lingo - she has managed to get us discounts on virtually everything and has saved us a fair amount of money.
Last night almost saw a local street seller get kicked in by Nikki and a few others - he was selling a cat whistle (something like a shepherds whistle, but sounds like a cat screaming). It wasn´t so much the product, but his marketing tactics - a small bag with an imitation tail hanging out of it which he would whack every now and then whilst letting out a terrible cat scream. He was almost belted, but saved when we recognised that the bag didn´t contain a real cat. Strange....
I think we should also start introducing a little rugby union into the syllabus - the number of people that have asked us if we are the All Blacks is a credit to their own fame - I would love to be able to say "Why, yes". Chicks dig it.
On the hand-out front, I have been giving a number of advertising flyers by street urchins that cover anything from a strip show to political advice (shame I can´t read it...). I think I´ll start a collection.
We all become famous tomorrow on Argentinian telly - some saw the Argentine team on TV this afternoon, interviews and a demo. They are HYPED!
Oh well - off to bed now - catch you tomorrow.
August 23 - Monday - Day 2 - After Dinner
Well, we´re back :)
A couple of points from yesterday people have thought noteworthy...
Whilst strolling the arcades, we were interrupting by a terrible YOWLing nearby. Looking around, we saw a man with a sack, beating it into the ground or smacking it with a stick. The sack would thrash around and meow violently.
Some of the team were horrified, others inches away from teaching the guy a lesson, when we realised he was advertising his whistles for sale, which sounded like - guessed yet? - a yowling cat.
Maybe you had to be there.
Oh, and at the Cybercafe we sent the first emails from, I got a free Coke :)
Happy Matt :)
Okay, back to today.
I already mentioned the El Presidente - when we arrived to have a look this morning, breakfast at the Waldorf was still fresh in most people´s minds. Thus, comparing the two tables of buffet-style fresh fruit, bacon and eggs, cereal, pastries, ... available at the El Pres, to the croissant and tostadas we had at the the Waldorf, left little competition in our opinion.
(What are tostadas, you ask? Imagine a piece of toast. Cool it down and dehydrate it. Wrap it in cellophane. Yum :( )
This was before we found out about the nicer rooms (with working toilets, even!), gym with mirrors, sauna, and infinite free internet access...
All for an average of $US55 a night - only $5 more than the ITF were charging us to stay at the (ugh) Waldorf.
Most of us went back to the Waldorf to pack, and were ready to check out not long after. We were not permitted to leave, however, until the hotel had been paid for the night we´d already spent there, and the payment had to come from the Tournament Organising Committee. The Management Team went back to the Tournament Office to talk to them about this, and the rest of us waited in the lobby.
Two or three hours later, they came back. (The rest of us had already eaten - pizza from Ugi´s, at $US2 for a pizza...) The end result was that we are now staying at the El Presidente until August 29th, the official start of the tournament, and thenceforth at the official accommodation, probably the Promenade.
We came back to El Presidente and checked in, then had a team meeting to discuss what´s going on over the next week or so. After that, people dispersed somewhat, some shopping, some heading out for a snack, and others crashing in their rooms. (I found a supermarket to pick up a few litres of Coke...)
Dinner tonight was at a nearby restaurant named "Chelo"... not quite as nice as the night before, but slightly cheaper. And at least the menus were in English :)
Now we´ve all drifted back to the Hotel... tomorrow morning is a chance to practise the Haka before the demo we´re doing for television cameras tomorrow afternoon...
Other than that, not much of note happened today... well, except for Ry and his $US120 drink this afternoon. But if you want to know more about that, you´ll have to ask him yourself...;)
23rd - Monday - Day 2 - Before Dinner
day involving lots of waiting around :)
morning we came down to have a look at "El Presidente" hotel, a 4
this is a four star, then it appears the ITF don´t use the term the way the
rest of the world do! El Presidente is *nice*. The Salles hotel
- what the ITF have called a five star - is marginally nicer than the
Waldorf. There´s no way it deserves more stars than El Presidente...
so we suspect that the Salles might be surprised to hear they´ve been
called a five star!
eventually moved in here, to El Pres, for the next six days. Come the
29th, when the tournament officially begins, we´ll be moving into one of
the "officially recognised" tournament hotels, but until then,
there´s little point in paying about the same amount for a poorer hotel
with transport and translators and so forth attached - we don´t need that
until the tournament begins.
send contact details for El Presidente and more about what happened today
after dinner, but right now we´re hungry :)
advantage of four star style, though, is unlimited free Internet access, so
you´ll be hearing from us :)
anyone wants to send a message to the team, anything sent to email@example.com
or firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject
"To the NZ Team" is bound to be passed on... we´d love to hear
from our supporters back home and abroad!
UPDATE - 23 August
After a 45 minute delay in taking off we got underway without any real hassle.
The 11 hour flight was occupied by movies and odd tossing around (of pillows, that is). Landed at around midday local time in Buenos Aires, which had a comfortable temperature of 13 degrees. The somewhat weary Kiwi´s were met by an entourage of interpreters, Master Galarraga, and some other Argentine TKD members.
After loading all of the luggage into a van, small groups (2-3) were shuttled to the hotel in small cars by the Argentinian´s - if you have ever wanted to know what it may be like in a stock car rally I suggest you try a taste of the local driving. There is no apparent speed limit, and road markings seem to act as a guideline only - optional if you are confident you know the size of your own vehicle. Great fun though.
There was a small change in plan with regards to the hotel - we couldn´t get into the initially intended venue, but settled into a nearby hotel called the Waldorf Hotel in Paraguay St. We may look at moving hotels in a few days, when room at the original destination (Hotel Promenade) frees up.
Once settled into our rooms we took the opportunity to freshen up before meeting in the hotel lobby. Unfortunately Carmen´s watch must´ve broken at some stage, as she was approximately an hour late, causing much grumbling of stomachs and complaining. Carmen made up for it though by wrangling a brilliant deal with¨"El Palacio, De La Papa Frita" - a three course meal with softdrinks included for US$16 (and it is true about the size of the steak over here). Bueno!
Off to bed now - a sleep in tomorrow I feel, as some of the guys are looking a bit pale after a 39 hour Sunday. Spirits are high, and we are looking to do some Haka training tomorrow afternoon.
To be continued....
August 22nd - Sunday - Day 1
Twenty-two of us left Auckland Airport this afternoon (including a surprised and delighted Tonee Francis :) ) - twelve competitors and assorted management and supporters.
We arrived in Buenos Aires after eleven or so hours in the air. It was a fairly uneventful flight... the movies were Shakespeare in Love, Mighty Joe Young, and Message in a Bottle, for those who care about such things :)
We were met at the airport by Master Nestor Gallaraga from Argentina, the Tournament Organiser, and a team of officials and translators. After some minor drama - Ry Goldsmith first lost a duty free bag (presumed stolen), and then managed to lose himself... (he swears he told someone where he was going, but... :) ) - we hopped into various vehicles and made our way to the Hotel Waldorf. Not the Hotel Promenade. Apparently someone didn´t make our booking at the Promenade until the 25th or so - New Zealand was once again the first team to arrive, and I guess we caught them by surprise somehow :)
While the Management Team (Mr Salton, Ms Schwager, and Mr Mantjika) went to meet with the organisers to arrange details, the rest of us had showers and a nap, or took a quick walk to have something to eat (our last meal had been breakfast on the plane - Qantas food, alas - and it was now about 4pm). We were to meet at 6pm to go have dinner, but the meeting took a little longer than anticipated, and it was 7 when they arrived back.
A walk through the centre of town - lots of mall-style open air arcade streets, plenty of roadside vendors and McDonalds outlets - brought us to "El Palacio" - purported to be a reasonably traditional and fairly priced restaurant. For $US16 each, we received drinks, bread rolls, a salad-and-cold-cuts entree, a choice of main, and a dessert. Many of us chose the barbeque steak ("You must not come to Argentina and not try the steak!"), while others partook of barbeque chicken or spaghetti. All in all a wonderful meal.
We´re now on our way back to the hotel to sleep - the Waldorf still, but with luck we´ll be in the (slightly) nicer Promenade soon - but how could we resist an Internet Cafe?
More contact details soon, maybe when we´re in the Promenade, but we´ll keep in touch on e-mail.
Competition begins on the 31st, with most teams arriving on or before the 28th.
Keep watching the webpage - more news as it happens!
UPDATE - 22 August
The team got away today - all in good spirits. Mr Mantjka sporting a new hair colour, and Mr looi no hair at all!
UPDATE - 18 August
The team are off to Argentina 4 pm this Sunday (22nd) - be at Auckland Airport to wish them well.
We will be bringing you updates of the World Champs and the New Zealand team here on this page. We hope to have updates daily - depending on the team's access to the Internet or fax. We will keep you posted - CHECK HERE DAILY!!
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