A senior National Poomsae team of eight athletes and two coaches from Australian Taekwondo will contest the World Poomsae Open Challenge in Muju, Korea, from November 3-5.
After two years of Covid restrictions, Australia’s Taekwondo stars made a successful return to the international scene in 2022, under the guidance of Taekwondo NPC Head Coach, Dr Seokhun Lee.
Dr Lee commenced his role in February, overseeing numerous impressive results around the globe, as he pushes Australia’s elite Taekwondo athletes to reach greater heights.
Upon his arrival in Australia, the Korean native carefully studied athletes’ strengths and weaknesses, adjusting his coaching philosophy and methods to their specific needs.
“What I have felt most differently working as the Australian Taekwondo Performance coach during 2022 compared to the Korean National team, was the difference between environments,” Dr Lee says.
“Athletes had to train whilst maintaining their work life, and this became the background in employing a training routine that is short, focused and oftentimes tailored to the individual athletes.
“We have increased our sheer volume of training compared to the past year. Our athletes have been diligent, keeping up with a demanding training program, which I thank them for.”
Dr Lee brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Australian Taekwondo, having previously coached the Korean National team to numerous Grand Prix titles and World Championship medals. He also won gold at the 2002 Asian Championships as an athlete.
One of Dr Lee’s key goals for Australia’s high-performance athletes was to enhance their strategic and technical prowess, and he believes this is beginning to show in their performances.
“There has been notable improvement on individual techniques and overall fitness, as well as in their understanding of the strategic components of Taekwondo.
“The change I focused on bringing about in athletes was the style in which they managed themselves during matches. In the past, we had many who were comfortable being on the defensive, but now they have become seasoned both in defence and offence, being able to choose and strategically adapt depending on their opponents’ styles.
“Looking back on 2022, I think it’s worth mentioning the results gathered in the various Opens and Grand Prix’s, as well as our athletes’ showing their calibre is on par with international athletes who are highly competitive.”
Dr Lee says Bailey Lewis’ run at the Paris Grand Prix was one of Australian Taekwondo’s biggest highlights this year.
“Bailey Lewis earned a place on the podium for Australia [at a Grand Prix event] for the first time in the past 9 years. More importantly, this was achieved with him coming out on top of athletes who were ranked fourth internationally. This has brought him and the whole of Australian Taekwondo much-needed confidence.
“Especially for those who watched his performance up close, his work ethic and results brought them motivation to push themselves further now and in the future.”
Australia’s Junior athletes also achieved significant success this year and Dr Lee is confident that they can be moulded into top-level senior athletes.
He notes that Matthew Summerfield captured bronze for Australia at the World Junior Taekwondo Championships, while Bianca Motta, Sofia Querubin and Damon Motta reached the Quarter Finals of the event.
“The new athletes lining up to join in 2023 have shown promising performances in the World Junior Championships, competing at the Quarter Finals, and also earning a bronze medal.
“Given that their physicality can be improved in the future, we should be able to expect good results in the Senior division as well.”
As Dr Lee continues to build for the future, he stresses the importance of continuing to grow the sport of Taekwondo across the country.
“I think the most critical component to the improvement of Australian Taekwondo in the long run is increasing the number of athletes who participate in the sport. This will naturally result in a more dynamic training environment, especially in terms of sparring partners and increased friendly competition between athletes.
“I wish to make 2023 a year of better results than the last, placing one of our own athletes on the podium in the World Championships. Hopefully this will lead us to a path where we will see our athletes being ranked in the top 10 of the Olympics.
“Although counting the wins and losses are important, my ambition as the Performance Coach lies in making a team that is strong and unrelenting. I believe we will naturally reap the results if we are able to achieve this to our utmost capabilities.”
Melbourne will host the next Kukkiwon courses in late September. The Kukkiwon International Master Course and Kukkiwon Poom / Dan Examiners course are available for members and non-members.