Australian athletes arrived in Korea this week as they prepare to test their mettle against hundreds of international competitors at the Korean Grand Prix (GP) Challenge, followed by the Korean Open at the end of the month.
From June 10-12, some of Australia’s finest prospects will battle for victory and a place in World Taekwondo’s next elite GP, which will be held in Manchester between October 21-23.
The Korean GP Challenge is a coveted opportunity for fighters ranked below 70 in the world to fight their way to a shot against the “best of the best”, as World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue, put it.
The winners and runners up who manage to book their place in Manchester will also have the chance to earn Olympic ranking points.
Liam Sweeney (One Taekwondo School, QLD), Saffron Tambyrajah (Notorious Martial Arts, VIC), Tyrone Staben (Adelaide Taekwondo Academy, SA) and Will Afonczenko (Notorious Martial Arts, VIC), will all gain valuable experience at the Muju Taekwondowon, under the guidance of National Performance Coach, Seokhun Lee.
The group will be aiming to build on impressive performances at the Sofia Open in March and the first international event athletes experienced in two years due to the pandemic.
In Sofia, Sweeney and Afonczenko reached the Round of 32, while Staben fought through to the Round of 16. Tambyrajah also impressed en route to the Quarter Finals, where she was eventually defeated by an Olympic Champion.
Once the GP is complete, the group will attend a training camp overseen by Lee at the Korean Olympic Training Centre from June 13-19.
The camp will boast further elite Aussie talent including Bailey Lewis (City West Taekwondo, VIC), Katinka Penketh (Martial Fitness Australia, VIC), Rebecca Murray (Edge Taekwondo, QLD), Tamzin Christoffel (One Taekwondo, QLD), Tom Afonczenko (Notorious Martial Arts, VIC) and Leon Sejranovic (Notorious Martial Arts, VIC), before they contest the Korean Open between June 28-30.
Lewis and Sejranovic previously made impressive Quarter-Final runs at the Sofia Open, while Christoffel reached the Round of 16. Murray, Afonczenko and Penketh, who have all medalled at multiple international events, will also be competing.
With World Championships on the horizon, this rich international experience will stand these competitors in good stead.