World Champs: 2023

Tampere, Finand

4 - 10 September 2023

NZ Team Schedule | Photos and News in our Facebook Group | Sport Data

2023 WC Live Stream Schedule | 2023 WC Schedule Complete

Junior Draw | Pre-Junior Draw | Senior Draw

Senior Medal Count | Junior Medal Count | Pre-Junior Medal Count



NZ Team Reports


Everyone was a little more relaxed heading back to the last day of competition today but there were still some competitors who were anxious to get down to the venue. These included the medal winners from the previous day and those who were yet to compete in team events. The excitement of standing on the stage to be acknowledged by your Taekwon-Do peers is something those medslists will remember forever and for others, a chance to get back in the ring for those that had losses was redemption in waiting.

First thing at 9am was the medal awarding ceremony. We had Ava and Mason receive their bronze medals from the day before, Sean received his silver in sparring and the team power girls picked up their golds! Nothing like hearing that anthem again to make us all feel the presence of the NZ team in the venue. When loud music is played and anthems sung, there is no escaping its effect. It's powerful, moving, has an importance that all understand and respect, and replaces everything else happening at that moment. Especially when there is a kiwi or two, or five, standing on the top podium draped in our flag.

The Girls were almost last in the morning medal session and were also first match on in team patterns! So they knew they had to warm up prior, be ready to get on stage and then run down to the ring. However, things don't always go as you think they will. Just as they were about to jump on stage after being announced, they were told they all needed shoes to wear on the podium! Of course as they had been warming up for competition and they were all in bare feet. After a mad rush and a few team mates' shoes thrown at them, they made the podium just in time to get medals around their neck and stand together for the anthem. The girls had earned it, it meant so much and it showed on their faces on the stage just as it had for Mason, Ava, Sean and all our previous kiwi medalists.

So off they ran to the ring to start the patterns competition. "Competitors please go to the ring to start the competition", said the announcer as they filed across the floor to the ring on the far side of the hall. The patterns team girls were ready and they instantly showed the hours of effort gone into coordination, teamwork and synchronicity was paying off. They dispatched one then two other countries and then had a match with Poland. Poland were winners in that round and we settled for a very well deserved third place. To say that Argentina had been working on their routine would be an understatement. These girls specialise in team only and spend countless hours perfecting their coordination. They were polished and took the gold leaving our team to take bronze. We are so proud of the junior girls team, first in power and then in patterns, so much expertise and talent in that group they will be hard to beat in future campaigns. The Junior girls patterns team was Amy Childs, Ava Sheehan, Carmel Ponga, Sydney Devine and Millie Devine. 

The senior men were sparring today and man did they come to prove a point. The team consisting of Jarrad Ramsay, Bailey Jeffery, Sean Neary, Kees Hooper-Whiti, Lachlan Ellis and Connor Mitchell set out for some redemption, to have some fun, and to test themselves against the best in the world in that rowdy, intense and fast paced competition. First up they had Malaysia, a less established sparring team but one with plenty of skills on show. They didn't score too much though as our boys seemed to enjoy sparring them. At times scoring with ease and winning comfortably, they all had an opportunity to improve on their individual sparring experience in an environment where you have the immediate support and advice from your teammate on the side of the ring and you compete for them, not just yourself. The team was coached by the super experienced and safe pair of hands, Mark Trotter. Jarrad was in control of his bout scoring good points throughout when Mark yelled "rear hand!" to which Jarrad responded by knocking his opponent down with a killer rear hand blow to the head. We have named this move "the Ramsay right". The sound of the glove hitting the head rang out in the venue, it was perfectly timed, carefully delivered and brutally received. It wasn't excessive though and the bout continued to the conclusion with Jarrad taking the points. We had won our first match there but more importantly Connor and Lachlan had had a win a world champs in the sparring ring and that meant the world to them as just reward for all the training.

The next bout was with Italy to progress to the medal rounds. Of course Grand master Boss's son Timothy was in that team and fresh off his latest world title from yesterday. All the boys fought well in the match however they were too good for us today. We didn't make it easy for them but they won it regardless. A great moment in that match, when it looked like we weren't getting out of it on the winning side, was when Kees asked for the timothy boss opportunity. Kees went into that ring willingly as he wanted to test himself against the best. He held his own despite his loss and learned some valuable lessons while there. It is exactly that kind of attitude that grows you as a sparrer and one that will mean you are likely to achieve your dreams in life. if you don't ask, you don't get" and if you want to learn, do what you do with the best in the world when you get the chance. 

So we tidied up our gear and started to head back out of the venue saying a farewell to other countries and made promises to keep the connections made, and to be back again next time in a big way. Some athletes did connect with others swapping uniform, tees etc. That's not always a give in, in the main if that happens it's because you found a competitor that you had formed a mutual respect in a bout with or is done with someone who you'd like to honour. Not just souvenirs. Maybe for a few it was transactional, but most dont give away team gear easily. We know how important our uniform is to us, we've all earned it, valued it and worn it with pride, something we would never easily give away to just anyone. Some of these countries come with only one country dobok, which makes you realise that no matter how good you are here or how many titles you achieve, your ability to fund each campaign comes down to your own circumstances. We are especially fortunate in NZ to be able to come all this way to compete in some of the best team gear and with excess uniform to swap, but that is far from the situation in other countries.
We all spare a thought for those who battle hardship in their own countries, for example, Ukraine. They were there in numbers and they were super impressive throughout the tournament as they always are but with what is going on at home right now it was hard to imagine how they did it. Indomitable spirit on show as its most obvious and powerful example.

Back from the tournament,we had our last team meeting in the hotel lobby and it was a happy one with a real positive vibe. The nerves are gone, the success in the bag and the party to come, all are feeling so proud. To say that the team is truly a team is an understatement now too. From our supporters to our athletes and coaches and management we feel like family. We shared inside jokes, stories of the competition, successes, challenges and acknowledged everyone involved in making it all the overall success it was. To be here again on the world stage and again putting out performances to be proud of was amazing. This team has kept the nation's mana intact, the world still knows who we are and that we are to be taken seriously. We even had a note from the top jury table at the competition saying they appreciated NZ's manners standing for each country anthem etc and keeping our area in the stands free of rubbish. Tidy polite kiwi's, no surprises there to us, but it gets noticed.

Despite our drop in overall country rankings, there are some obvious gaps in our representation here. At 35 athletes we are almost half the size of previous teams. We had no Junior or senior girls in Special tech for example, an event a bit like power that in the past has been golden for us many times. Our ranking is based on gold medals and we finished in our senior team with 1. The two top countries only got 5 gold with the third, fourth and fifth placed countries achieving only 3. This just shows there isn't that much difference and we have easily the opportunity to get back to the number one slot. Importantly the competitors we have here in Finland have proven over every day of competition that they too are world class athletes. If we fill these spots, we have the talent in the team to train at this standard. Suffice to say that the future is secure here. We have the coaches, the athletes, the drive and the talent in NZ to continue to rebuild this team. As ITKD comes back from lower membership levels after Covid lockdowns etc we feel that this team has shown a pathway for others to come and join the action. We are well set up now, have the people, the results and the desire to do it all again bigger and better. A real Taekwon-Do athlete knows that its the journey to self improvement that drives you, not the medals. They are just a shiny representation of others' respect. The respect for what you have achieved alongside your team is within and will continue to drive you in your art, your competition and your life. What a ride it's been.

Our coaches!!!! Head Coach Dane Canton has steered this ship after being shoulder tapped to step up to the role. His calm, knowledgeable, experienced approach has been the sensible secure glue that binds our team in common sense decisions and direction. He has cared for everyone, he has challenged them and he has made them all get closer to their potential along a continuum of continuous improvement. We thanked him for his leadership and are so lucky to have someone of this quality at the helm. 

Mark Trotter is the guy in any training room or competition venue that everyone knows. They know him because he is one of the most successful competitors in the ITF. His reputation is unparalleled in this respect but he is also dedicated to passing on his experience and expertise. The advice, guidance and demand of this group has been invaluable to all of them. We thanked Mark for sharing his talent for understanding the "how" in the ring, the why behind the competition and the world wide awareness of who's doing what in the world so we can compete with them. 

Helen Caley has been an experienced dedicated and endless support in our coaching team to all. When Mark and Dane were both out of action Helen stepped up to take control. We have all been impressed with Helens capability to lead and see her as the person who will integrate into her role seamlessly but also own the room when needed. She is a stable, calm, knowledgeable presence in any situation and this team has benefitted from her vast experience to learn, to self diagnose and grow.

Kara timmer couldn't make champs this year having another priority, expecting her first child! Again, her experience and dedication to the team has been amazing. She brings her long list of titles and experience to training and also offers a calm, non nonsense approach to her guidance. She has been inspiring throughout our camps and has played a large part in setting the team up for success.

Our support coaches. Alois Vogt and his daughter (and previous world champion) Georgia have been, since before the campaign started, in Wellington growing the capabilities of the locals. After seeing the amazing work they were doing and noting the new talent that was coming from that region, they were asked to come along as coaches for the tournament too. Their input and experience has also been invaluable as they have expertly guided the team through the competition and supported the athletes and the coaching team in essential roles. Georgia has the best record in the ring too presiding over the action in the power ring here, we decided after Carmels gold that she would stay there, and that was a good decision to say the least with two more medals coming from power. We think Georgia and Alois are both not just lucky charms but are a dedicated duo with a real passion for seeing this team grow. They will be a constant going forward and involved with aiding the future team I have no doubt. I think Alois already has the next training planned! He is so motivated by this group and is a wise and considered coach, we expect he will continue to assist others in his selfless way and thank him and Georgia for that as well as all they have done to date for this team.

Master Mantjika is the coach that has the vision and the diagnosing power that is, in essence, a fast track to learning. He can see and describe things that others cannot. Joining the coaching team for this campaign he has again given so much of himself to be here and guide our team. It's not just his vast experience and knowledge of all events but his ability to see and describe what changes are most likely to be effective for every individual. Master Man has been a constant driver and producer of talent for years and years. He has grown the central region and inspired many to go further than they ever thought possible. Despite putting off a hip operation to be here and spending his days in pain and discomfort, he is here doing what he does best, providing inspiration and real actionable advice to all. We can't thank him enough for what he's given too and will always acknowledge his guidance, passionate enthusiasm and experience.

Our supporters have been absolutely amazing! They have secured more than just bags over here. They have propped up broken athletes, they have financed athletes journeys, they have managed diets, they have endlessly encouraged and supported their families and, they supported the whole team, engaging with everyone and helping to bring this team together as a unit.

More than all of this though, they have made connections here that will last. The making of Nga Kaponga is a multi faceted thing. All the elements of the campaign make this what it is but the feeling of Whanau that is present is what really sets NZ teams apart from the rest of the world. We care for each other, we are dedicated to each other's success, we celebrate our team members success as if it's our own and we are there for each other in real ways that communicate "i've got you" when we need it most. 

Support comes from supporters and from each individual involved, the team simply wouldn't do this as well as they do every time without it. 

Until the next one (and we hope there will be preparation for that much sooner than in the past) we're signing off here and most of us are having a wee holiday! Happy and relaxed in the knowledge that we achieved what we came here to do and can go forward from here, a strongly bonded and successful Nga Kaponga team. 

Paula and I feel like our jobs are all about what comes from the campaigns. That's medals for sure but it's much much more than that. It's seeing supporters having a drink at the end of the day, sharing stories and laughing and making lifelong connections. It's seeing the bonds that form between athletes. Its competitors feeling bonded and being vulnerable with coaches and us. It's knowing the support of the group is important, valued and essential. It's listening to the team performing Nga Kaponga. It's all of this and more and it's so rewarding. It makes all the work worthwhile and fills us with pride and satisfaction. So from us, we thank you all, you are an amazing group and we value the experience which we will treasure forever. 

Kind regards,


*Editors note: A huge thanks to Nathan and Paula Bowden for managing the team. When I heard the news that they were to be our managers again I was so happy (and relieved). I don't need to tell the team how amazing they are. I have so much respect for you both... thank you.
Paul McPhail

9/9/23 - DAY 3 REPORT | Photos

I didn't think we could maintain the energy we had built up yesterday but today was to be one of those magic days. Not for all individually, but as a team it felt especially meaningful today.

The day opened with Junior patterns. Cameron white had called in sick and didn't compete today. The battle back to health is taking him longer than he had hoped and we really feel his absence. I know he would have been competitive today but his opponents got a reprieve from being defeated by him. It won't help them next time I have no doubt. 

The rest of our junior patterns team were a force to be reckoned with today. Amy Childs drew a tough challenge in the first round with the current european champion and exited early. We didn't see what the fuss was all about and felt that Amy was superior. Perhaps we're a little biased but we know one day it's highly likely that Amy will top this category, she is just that good. Liam Reynolds took it to the rest of his category and pushed his way to finish just outside the medal rounds. He went from strength to strength as the rounds went by and rised to the occasion to perform the best patterns we've witnessed from him. 

We were happy with how the juniors were going and were starting to see our patterns pedigree returning to the world stage when both Mason Holroyd and Ava Sheehan stepped up and delivered truly outstanding performances. Both of these two had incredible runs to win bronze today fighting off draws, extra rounds and some stiff competition to make it to medals. They were both inspiring and energising as again the whole team lifted on the back of their performances. We had spoken the night before about how any of them can step up and be the catalyst for the team's success by taking charge and showing the way to win, and these two did just that.

Brenna Greene, Lachlan Ellis, Bailey Jeffery and Brenda Contti were unlucky to progress in their sparring divisions today, but they all showed that their training and skill matches the world standards and on any other day could have gone much further. Personally I liked Brenna's gutsy go forward and willingness to take anyone on, Lachlans intention to go on the attack, hands flying, Bailey's aggressive and technical approach and Brenda's ring craft with power and precision and understanding of distance and movement. There are so many hours of training and dedication represented today by these competitors that the time in the ring may have seemed short in relation however what they have learned from that time has propelled them all to another level of capability that they could learn nowhere else but here. No competition is a wasted experience just because of the outcome.

We had some seriously exciting moments in the sparring ring today too. Lisa Artmann taught us all that she is someone who can be nimble, hit back swiftly and learn on the go. Going through many rounds with tough opponents she dodged, countered and spun off the line and countered fast to win many matches. Pipped in the last few seconds to finish just outside the medals, it was awesome to see her come so close for a first timer. With more opportunities to keep learning Lisa will just keep getting better, something we're all hoping to witness as well as the results that would come from that. 

A truly dedicated, motivated and inspiring Taekwon-Doin, Sean Neary took the performance of the day with his run through his division. We watched as he and his second and coach Mark Trotter navigated opponents with different styles and worked them out together one by one. Sean fought off tall aggressive and experienced men with kicks seeking his head, grunty rushing opponents with heavy landing blows and skillful flexible and nimble competitors who can hit you from anywhere, and dispatched them all to make the final!

I can't say what I really think about Seans final except to say that until the final second he had the match won. We still don't fully understand what happened but in the raised centre ring in front of masters and grand masters Sean would finish second in a somewhat controversial manner. Sean however would tell you anytime that it just doesnt always go your way and that you have to accept, move on and come back to fight another day. All because you love what you do anyway. His silver medal is his first individual medal in years of sparring at world champs level and I can't think of anyone who has put in more hours, helped others learn along with him and been dedicated to his own development journey than him. Our team screamed along during the match, gave him a standing ovation as he left the ring and a guard of honour when on the way to the team bus at the end of the day. One of those team moments that again galvanises us all as Nga Kaponga.

Speaking of guard of honour, we left that open after Sean and pushed a typically humble wesely Filiki through that too. It was a big day for Wes as well.  

The men's power team which competed today balancing the will to win with the sensibility of retaining all their attacking tools for sparring later, they broke boards until it was impossible to advance and then gave away the rest to preserve unnecessary injuries. Kees Hooper Whiti, Bailey Jeffery, Jarrad Ramsay, Sean Neary and of course our three time power champion Wes. 

Wes went last when the competition had already run away from us but he lined up what was to be his final break in international competition. He planned to retire here and he went out on a smash we'll all remember. Fighting back the emotion of leaving the biggest stage in Taekwon-Do sport as well as many tears of joy, the necessity of coming out of the spotlight internationally and his desire to live his life having achieved more than most ever will, he did one last punch. I'm not sure it would have mattered how many boards were stacked up in front of him today as I think that punch would've felled a tree. Wes farewelled the world of power breaking with a final crack of boards that sent a shock wave though the entire hall. A wave to the crowd and a retiring of his belt at the umpire's feet, he left the ring for the last time. I've had a word with him and he's promised to help train the next generation of world class breakers. (he may not know that yet) and I'm sure he will play a big part in making sure we keep our envied position in the world of power breaking alive.

Speaking of world class breakers, our junior girls team power breakers were in action today. After a multi team tie with clear rounds, the girls stepped up to the challenge and broke everything thrown at them with ease. These girls are so impressive that it isn't even close as to how superior they are to the rest of the world as a team. Mille and Sydney Devine, Carmel Ponga, Cass Yates, Ava Sheehan, with Amy Childs in reserve, are your new Junior girls WORLD CHAMPIONS!!! As if the day could not have provided enough excitement already, these young ladies made the day complete with another gold to add to the tally. So powerful, capable and competent I can't see anyone getting close to them as long as they keep at it. You feel like it's all just another day at the office watching them. Truly talented, hard hitting young ladies continuing the tradition of kiwi women in power.

Today's medals were
Junior Girls Power Team Gold
Mens 81-87kg Sparring Silver (Sean Neary)
Junior Boys 1st Dan Patterns Bronze (Mason Holroyd)
Junior Girls 1st Dan patterns Bronze (Ava Sheehan)

We're still celebrating the day tonight as we look forward to tomorrow's team events. While we only have two in action, we'll be back there to cheer them on, pick up the medals from today's haul, and farewell World Champs Finland 2023. It has been an amazing experience watching this very new team head straight back to the top in many divisions. The world rankings aren't being calculated the same way as far as we can tell but comparison isn't really the point this year. After covid and a total rebuild of the team, we have reminded the world we are still a serious and competitive country. But even more than that I'm hearing that this group has the bug and wants to keep improving and most are already aiming for world cup Argentina 2024 and Croatia World Champs in 2025. With them and growing the team back to double the numbers and representing in more divisions, I have no doubt this team is well on its way to regaining its number one in the world status in the very near future!

Total Medals
3 Gold
2 Silver
4 Bronze

Kind regards,




Today was a little quieter in the venue with a few teams missing due to not having competitors on this day. The chants of "Argentina '' and others were missing but it didn't dull the day as others are just as capable of creating atmosphere. Romania and Ukraine were more than making up for the lack of noise as well as taking the lion's share of the success today in sparring particularly.

Our day started with senior patterns. Some had good runs that ended just prior to the finals rounds and some had a shorter ring time. We all had our confidence tested in patterns to some degree today where we thought we would fare much better and are left contemplating what we need to do or change to influence better results. The conclusion we came to was that continuous improvement is the name of the game. We also reminded ourselves that when a result doesnt go your way you have to acknowledge the reality of the situation and keep trying for the recognition you think you deserve. If you love the art, the training and the competition, then those are the real rewards regardless of how others judge you.

In patterns we were expertly represented by
Orlando Apiolaza 1 Dan
Lachlan Ellis 1 Dan
Lisa Artmann 1 Dan
Morgan Bowler Parkin 3 Dan
Brenda Contti 3 Dan
Bailey Jeffery 2 Dan
Cruise Wilton 2 Dan
Kees Hooper Whiti 3 Dan
Connor Mitchell 3 Dan
Kyla Walton 2 Dan
Sam Young 4 Dan.

Special mention to Bailey and Cruise who took it through several rounds and lost out to place getters and eventual winners. It was exciting to watch them carve through the early rounds with some very polished patterns. As Kiwis with access to the best expert tuition in the world, we are well represented by the people we put up today and they all showed they carry the NZ reputation forward in their performances. 

Special Tech was a shining light today but took all day to complete with a division of 36 competitors! Cohen Batterham, our only junior representative in Junior special technique showed why he had been chosen for this task. After an initial 4/5 clear jumps, he had to wait over 2 hours to get back in the ring to jump off for bronze. After a higher turning kick and then a raised side kick, it was Cohen and a Polish competitor that prevailed in the bronze medal position! Cohen has had an amazing first world champs. He took home bronze in Special tech but also went several rounds though the competition in power and in sparring. An impressive start to what could be an exciting journey as a senior next time.

Early on in the day we had Cohen and Cameron White compete in Junior power. While Cohen had a good run we were super impressed with Cameron too. Cameron had fallen ill when we arrived and went to his room and waited it out. Determined to make his entry to the world stage he attended today and lined up the punch. Absolutely smashing that, he couldn't manage any consistency due to still not being quite well enough. While it may not seem like much on the surface, what Cam has done for the team keeping himself away to prevent others from being in the same position, is not only admirable but has been a lonely challenge with his dad being his only company. We appreciate what he's going through and look forward to him making another entrance if he's up to it for patterns tomorrow. Even a small cold can put you off your best and at these tournaments, it takes every ounce of stamina and concentration to do well. 

Kees Hooper Whiti also kicked off the senior men's sparring that will continue tomorrow. He fought well and had some nice movement parrying attacks while spinning off line and landing punches forcing his opponent away from him. The points weren't there at the end but if we continue to fight smart like this we will stand a good chance of winning rounds tomorrow.

The day had looked a little gloomy after patterns despite our pre junior sparrers taking it to their opponents with vigour and resilience. Makai Holroyd fought back from 4/0 down to be winning at the end, only to lose on a warning in the last second! Neel Khalate showed his metal when despite a loss his opponent came to congratulate him on his toughness. Then after getting knocked down and somewhat pushed around, Nina Ross exemplified the very meaning of perseverance. She went all the way through the two rounds with determination and fight rarely seen in such situations. She was the very picture of indomitable spirit in the ring today.

All of these three will be worth watching in future and have learned so much leading up to, and at world champs that will stand them in good stead for continuous improvement and another crack at the big show.

But... the absolute highlight of the day, and one that lifted an entire team, was Carmel Ponga's junior female power competition. Ava Sheehan had earlier shown that kiwi girls are a force to reckoned with, breaking almost everything on her round only coming up slightly short of progressing to the playoffs. Ava will be back, we have no doubt and is only scratching the surface of her capabilities.

Carmel entered with a perfect first round of all breaks as did 8 others. It got whittled down to 7, then 6 then suddenly there were only two left. A kiwi and a Romanian. They both proceeded to break a 3 board turning kick, a Black and white board elbow, a black and white board turning kick and finally faced down over a 3 board sidekick. When the Romanian failed to break this, it was Carmels to take, and take it she did! After so long breaking with sore tools Carmel smashed the side kick break and sent the watching contingent of kiwis and other breaking fans into an explosion of relief, wonder and appreciation for what she had just achieved. Everyone was super impressed with her determination and concentration to get the job done and we are still riding high as a team on her success. The team lifted to new heights after that. Cohen won his bronze play off in special and then came the senior women's power team.
Kyla Walton, Sam Young, Lisa Artmann, Brenda Contti and Brenna Greene once again lifted the roof with a silver medal! 

This capped a mixed day but the rewards at the end was just what the team needed to rebuild confidence and re engage our momentum. 

So medal count to date is
Kyla Walton Gold Senior womens power
Carmel Ponga Gold Junior womens power
Bailey Jeffery Silver Senior mens special tech
Cohen Batterham Bronze Junior mens special tech
Senior women's power team Silver

So much to look forward to tomorrow, we headed to the buses with a spring in our step. While waiting for the bus and standing next to the waiting Italian team, we sang a loud happy birthday to Neel Khalate and his dad Jay. The Italians joined in and helped give them a super loud rendition. Then we discovered one of the Italian men also had a birthday that even his team didn't know about. So together the kiwis and Italian teams put them in a circle and sang them happy birthday all over again. 

Spontaneous interaction with competitors and fellow Taekwon-Doin's was a fantastic way to finish off the day.

More tomorrow, can't wait.


6/9/23 DAY ONE REPORT (Photos on in our FB Group)

After a successful start jumping onto the shared busses at our hotel we were happy to have made it to the venue early and could have our pick of the space available. Our awesome supporters helped us find a great spot in front of ring 1 and secured our space with flags and banners to mark our home base at the tournament. 

Our first task was to send our flag bearers to be assigned positions in the walk in, carrying our flag and country banner. Sean Neary and Kyla Walton, two of our most senior members performed this task well as we cheered them past us with all the other countries. Straight after that we were invited on stage to perform Nga Kaponga, our NZ team Haka. The stage shook with a strong and passionate performance from our new team. They really are representing the name and all that has gone before them with great pride and respect. Many NZ teams have worn the fern before us and we think of them, our families, our organisation and our country when we perform this Haka.

The competition started with our pre juniors in patterns. Literally first in the ring on bout 1! While we didn't come away with any medals in these events, this group showed they are a talented bunch with so much potential and we were represented very well by them all. They are our future and we can't wait to see how far they can go in future campaigns. We had some who went a few rounds, some who had tough competition straight away and others who went further than even they thought they might. Competition is like that, sometimes it's all down to your performance, sometimes it's a good draw or sometimes it's a specific set of outside factors that determines the outcome, no matter who you are. 

Our Pre Junior patterns competitors were
Jaya Rees
Makai Holroyd
Neel Khalate
Ruby Devine
Remember these names I'm sure you'll hear them again!

Also early on were our senior female power breakers. While Brenna Greene represented us well as always, it was the previous world champ that took the entire competition out to once again be crowned World Champion! Kyla Walton went into an extra round and when her and her competitor failed to break the four board side kick, Kyla stepped up smashing a three board turning kick. A break that was too much for her Argentine opponent. The kiwis went up in an uproar and we basked in the golden shadow of Kylas win. This really lifted the team. See the video

For Kyla this is so well deserved after the incredible amount of work she puts in to achieve her goals. She is a true champion in every sense. 

Next up was our Junior sparrers 
Amy Childs
Jackson McConaghty
Cohen Batterham
Felix ONeill
Cass Yates
Ryan How
Sydney Devine
Mason Holroyd

This group showed they are world class, matching up against the best ITF TKD has to offer in this age group. While there were no finals reached, several of these fighters went a few rounds with super tough and well trained opposition. Special mention to Jackson, Amy and Cohen who had us amazed at their level of comfort in the ring going several rounds before coming to an end. They looked like they had done it before, a great effort for first timers. All of this group are just getting started and showed they can compete at this level, a great achievement.

Finally we had our senior men in power and special. This group lead from the front as they have so many times before. Previous world champions have a mana in the ring that shows for all to see.

Wesely Filiki and Jarrad Ramsay made the boards fall apart as they do but the rest of the world are catching up fast and today they were too good. 

Wes had a near perfect round only missing the reverse turning kick, and Jarrad showed his flexibility breaking the turning kick and the knife hand with his less preferred left side, but others did have that perfect round. The play off was an incredible 5 board side kick followed by a 4 board punch. The Hungarian smashed the punch and was crowned the new world champ. 

As he always has, Sean Neary was at the top of his special tech division with what we thought was a clear round only to have been controversially judged to have moved the mid air kick board with the ball of the foot instead of the heel. There was a protest from us but we didn't win. Disappointing for Sean but he showed again that he is consistently at the top of the world in this event.

Then up stepped Bailey jeffery and went through with 4/5 perfectly executed kicks to win Bronze! Bailey has worked so hard to perfect techniques and be in the best shape for competition. It's a real testament to him and the dedication he's shown to achieving in this event and this bronze is so well deserved. I'm sure the start of more to come in the future from him too.

So a new World Champion and a bronze medal is what people are talking about. While we are celebrating these incredible achievements, we have reminded everyone that their success is already attained when they step back out of the ring from any world champs. The work that goes in, the journey to get here, the travel, competing on the biggest stage there is, is all part of the transformation that all these athletes gain. When they go back to their clubs, they lift up others by sharing their experience and knowledge to help lift the rest of the organisation to be better. Maybe some will go on to coach, manage or instruct, or maybe they will just keep building on what they know now and come back and do it again even better. Win lose or draw, none of that training, experience or investment into themselves can be diminished. 
The national team is a place where we develop Taekwon-Do to the highest standards of competition and its a supremely satisfying journey to watch unfold here in Finland.

A quick run down of where the team is so far on the eve of day 1 in Tampere, Finland.

Everyone met in Auckland airport Sep 1 2023 and checked in for the mammoth flight. Excited to be together as Nga Kaponga in full team gear and joined as athletes, supporters, coaches and management our group was now bonded for the duration of the journey to the completion of the ITF world champs 2023.

After some 30 odd hours travelling going via Adelaide and Doha we arrived in Helsinki for a night before catching a further 2 hour bus ride to Tampere the next day. Some of us took the opportunity to explore Helsinki in the morning and others just rested up after such a long stretch. It's actually super tough sitting in the same position for so long no matter how many movies, music and food you can consume to take your mind off it. It's genuine fatigue that is not easily shaken off. 

Once in Tampere we checked in and found a dodgy basement to train in, got our meal passes and explored our immediate surroundings. We had a 1-2 hour wait to check into our hotel which was yet another test of everyone's resilience but everyone coped with well. The Hotel is quite boutique, very comfortable and we have the whole place to ourselves! The Canadian and Finnish teams are staying in the sister hotel next door and we see them all often as we share meals in the same halls. It's good to be able to retire to our own little sanctuary. Our dungeon private carpark is a bit grim but anywhere under heaven is a dojang! So we've used that to get moving again and to practice our Haka which we have been invited to perform at the opening ceremony. 

The official training venue is an old bunker inside a mountain! Pretty cool and fully decked out with mats as well as a few breaking machines. We learned which buses to take to get there and back quickly and have made use of those facilities to get back on the mats and recapture the feeling of the ring. We have had free time to explore the city, take pics, try new foods and even speak a little Finnish. Kiitoss (thank you) is one we are used to now being the polite kiwis we are.

Weigh in went well today and everyone is registered to go! We've had our final Haka practice and you can feel the passion, the pent up excitement as well as the urge to get going in the performance of it today. It's quite the outlet for athletes' emotions right now and I can't wait to hear the team perform it tomorrow to the world. It will blow them away!

We get buses provided to get us and the other teams to the venue tomorrow for the big show from 7:30am. We have several athletes on first thing and lots of others hitting the mats after them. So, Haka, warm up and then we take on the world. The team have worked so hard and come so far, whatever happens this week amongst the highs and the lows, Nga Kaponga has earned the right to be here and will represent NZ appropriately and with passion. Bring it on!


Photos of the final Team Camp, 13 August 2023

For information about the New Zealand team selections and training please see the HP training page.

The New Zealand Team starts to take shape

Trials for the New Zealand team were held on the weekend of 14-15 January 2023. The selectors will be deciding on the team make-up this week. Good luck to all those who trialled.



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