2020 has been a year to test the Taekwondo tenets.
Courtesy amid a pandemic, perseverance through bushfires and drought, self-control and integrity as we feared the economy would collapse and, perhaps more than at any other time in our lives, we needed indomitable spirit as the world we knew changed forever.
And, as a community of martial artists and sportspeople, the Australian Taekwondo community has lived up to the tenets in 2020, according to new CEO of Australian Taekwondo, Heather Garriock.
“There were a lot of excuses for giving up in 2020,” she says.
“So much of what we love about Taekwondo, from the social connection to the chance to get out and burn off energy, was taken away.
“But we didn’t give up. We turned to the tenets and we got through it.”
It is a message echoed by new National Performance Pathway Lead, Ali Khalil.
“It is important to acknowledge the athletes training alone, striving for motivation and maintaining their fitness,” he says.
“And the coaches who have made sacrifice after sacrifice to support their athletes through these trying times.
“As a loyal member of Australia's Taekwondo community, I just wanted to offer my deepest respect and gratitude to everyone who have stayed the course through 2020 and I know that you will achieve the goals you set yourselves.”
Australian Taekwondo Participation Manager Ben Exton says, rather than wilting under pressure, Taekwondo is ready to emerge stronger post-pandemic, with more than 50 schools now running programs and Ageless Taekwondo available for older Australians, who are more aware than ever of the need to be strong and healthy.
“We are growing the family,” he says.
“Taekwondo is now reaching people in many different forms.
“2020 certainly slowed us down in some ways, but in other ways, we have made huge strides.
“I know that it has been tough for many clubs and so I hope they can take advantage of the resources we now have on offer to emerge stronger than ever.”
We had great success in the first ever online World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships with Bronwyn Butterworth winning bronze and David Atkinson placing fifth.
Superstars and our best coaches made regular visits to our lounge rooms during a series of Zoom Training Sessions that helped save parents across the nation.
The Australian Taekwondo Talk podcast was ranked sixth on Feedspot’s list of “best” TKD podcasts in the world and named one of the “Great Australian Pods”. Created to help keep the community connected during isolation, it also introduced us to some of the characters and quiet achievers. Para-athlete Janine Watson is both of those and hopes 2021 will bring her a Paralympic opportunity.
“2020 was certainly a crazy year,” she says.
“Wishing everyone an essential, socially-distanced, unprecedented, pivoted, happy and healthy holidays.
“May every day of the New Year bring a new opportunity for joy and laughter, warmth and love, and everything you desire.”
There have been a range of changes behind the scenes as well, with long-serving CEO John Gradisar moving on, Simon Lew announced as the new Chairman of the Board, Ali appointed to the Pathways role and Heather stepping into the CEO role.
In a thrilling start to 2021, World Taekwondo Oceania and Australian Taekwondo have announced the inaugural 2021 Australian & Oceania Taekwondo Gajok Games will be hosted on the Gold Coast in March.
“And that is just the start of the exciting things that will happen over the next 12 months,” says Heather.
“We are getting better. We will do better and we want to do it in partnership with every Australian who cares about Taekwondo.
“Bring on 2021.”