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Worlds Championships 2010 (South Korea)
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Start of a new week and I arrived at the office bright and early Monday morning. The air was filled with anticipation as we were leaving for South Korea later that day. As always I had some last minute things to organise, packing the scoring system after Sundays update, sorting the insurance policy and a few confirmation phone calls to the airline about our extra baggage, after all with the expected medals for the trip home we would need it.

Finally finished and left the office at 1pm to go home and pack. Talk about leaving things to the last minute. Returned to the office to be met by several of our competitors, two coaches Mandeep Rauli, Yogi Chand and of course Master Nicholls. Some of our Cornish students had already been taxied over by Terry Humphries so we loaded up the cars and headed over to Heathrow. This time we were leaving from Terminal 4 which added an extra 15 minutes to the travel time of 5 lol.

We were met at the airport by my travel agent who had already made arrangements for us to check in and the process was well under way. We even had the head honcho from Korean Air overseeing our check in. In total we had several flights leaving on the 28th, 29th, 30th, and the 1st four flights out and 2 back with a total of 140 people travelling this broke the 2004 record of 123 for the last World Championships held in Korea.

All checked in we had a few hours to kill with a bit of shopping, some grub and a few beers. Everywhere I looked familiar faces nodded back, we had 53 on this flight. The 11 hour flight boarded on time and we took of just behind scheduled. The atmosphere on the flight was jovial and we all settled down to the in flight entertainment. Would like to say that time flew by but it never does on long haul flights and Im sure they design those seats slightly too small on purpose.

We finally landed in South Korea early afternoon of the 29th. Disembarked and collected the luggage without too much hassle. Made my way through passport control and landside to meet the awaiting travel agent. That was a relief as communication had been difficult to say the least. Myself and Master Nicholls had even flown to Korea the month before to finalise arrangements. Lets just say the Korean way of organisation is slightly different, No contracts just a couple of words Its OK. Bit worrying when you have 140 people making a very expensive trip. I had nightmares of us being stranded at the airport and sleeping in tents.

As it transpired there was no need for concern, buses were there ready and waiting to ferry us to the Ramada in Chong-Ju. The 2 hour journey was split with a short break at the services and we arrived at the Ramada just after 6pm on the 29th. Jumped off the bus while Master Nicholls congregated everyone in the lobby. Room keys where ready and waiting for collection and distributing them was fairly painless. Finally got to my room just after 7pm, unpacked and met Master Nicholls, Mandeep Rauli in the lobby for a bite to eat. As I came out the lift was welcomed by Master Maidana from Argentina who had arrived the previous Sunday. After food was off to bed for some well earned sleep.
The following day 30th we had another group flying in. This was also the weigh-in for the festival and after breakfast we met Master Galaragga who was on his way to the venue. England had no competitors for the festival as they werent prepared to risk injury before the worlds. The only plans I had for the day were to meet our competitors travelling in from Heathrow. How wrong was I! Finally Master Wolf, and the Imperial Scotland team arrived at the hotel just after 6pm.

Checked in and away by 6:30pm when Master Nicholls approached and said we were required at the festival weigh-in?

Quick cab ride to the venue, we bumped into Shane Fitzgibbon from Ireland who brought us up to speed about how slow the weigh-in was going. We walked into the hall and up to the registration when Master Maidana approached and said they had been waiting for us? Why?

They wanted to use our draw system for the festival. That was a shock to the system and had landed me in a whole heap of work. All the competitors had to be entered online, Eva! Miss Eva Plessing was on the organising committee and was able to speak Korean. She turned out to be an angle and through out the whole trip she proved indispensable and I can not thank her enough. Eva quickly drafted in some labour, the University students to enter the festival competitors. Many hands made short work and soon we were ready to go. Thanks to Master Dalton and Mr Jon Mackey for double checking the entries, my eyes were starting to fail me after starring at the screen for hours.

At the coaches meeting/draw for the festival it appeared that several countries had not registered, or had registered for the WTF event by mistake. Unable to do the draw there and then I had some work to do by adding the missing competitors. I finally finished early hours 4am, and the draw was completed the following morning.

At breakfast I handed over the draw to Master Galarraga, where he informed me that the coach left for the competition in 45 min. Looks like Im working then! Missed the coach so Master Nicholls and myself jumped into a cab as the competition venue was only 5 minutes away. The ITF was running one ring while the WTF had two. Set up the computer scoring system and away we went. Didnt take long for the officials to pick up the system and I was freed up from operating the laptop as I needed to return to the hotel as we had more members arriving on the third flight.

Back at the Ramada I checked in the 30 people arriving on the 1st, quick refresh and back to the competition. The event was running smoothly, had a few official protests from one particular country, you know who. The advantage of the electronic scoring is that it keeps all results and can show each individual judges score at any stage for Patterns and Sparring. This quashed a lot of the arguments as the score is there to see in real time.

Back to the hotel for some food and relaxation. Mr, now Master Kruk met us at the hotel where we discussed the organisation of the world championships. Due to a breakdown in communication it seemed that they only had the competitors in excel sheets and in order to use our system they would need to be placed online. Eva to the rescue, she managed to secure MR Ohs children to help with the entry. What a job that turned out to be, burning the midnight oils again.

The 2nd was a long day again, up early to set up the venue, back and forth to the hotel to check in the final flight for the English team. Secured a training area for the team and late night banquet style food, which I must say was very nice even though I only managed to get there the once. But seeing as Canada and the Netherlands asked if they could be included it must have been a success. Many thanks for Mr Yogi Chand for administering it all week.


ITF REGISTRATION

The day had come!, registration was due to start at 9am. Myself and Master Nicholls arrived on site at 8am only to find the university had a problem with its internet. Bit of an issue when the draw system is web based. The IT guys had it working just before 10am and the team sheets where distributed to the coaches for approval prior to submission.

Ok time to get the game face on, lets replace the university students with some English umpires as I noticed it was mainly a language issue that had slowed down the festival weight-in. Master Nicholls recruited Master Muleta and Risko to run the ITF station. The order of the day was to approve your team sheets, confirm your ITF status, weigh-in and then have your Id processed. All seem to run very smoothly and in walked Mr Reid, a quick hello and he was working on the registration system. The only station out of my control had a bit of a bottle neck, you guessed it the ID cards typical! I would like to thank Master Nicholls, Master Muleta, Master Risko, Mr & Mrs Richards, Mr Bonfield, Mr Payne, Miss Emma Jordon, Mrs Sandra Donnelly, Mr Anthony Donnelly.

Job Done! Time to make our way over to the venue to see the opening Ceremony.

Arrived just in time for the opening ceremony, now apparently there was a laser show but I was too engrossed with Lara Croft If you were there you will understand . All jokes aside the ceremony was fantastic.

Right back to the university for the Coach and Umpire meetings and the live draw. All the hard work at the registration paid off as every competitor had there image listed next to there name and gave a real professional outlook. After a quick introduction by Master Galarraga we moved swiftly to the draw. The electronic system made short work of the 600 plus competitors and every division was fiercely contended.

DAY 1

4th July was kick off, Early start for both myself and Master Nicholls. We had just the one ring while the festival completed its final divisions. Half way through the day the other rings were opened up to the ITF and once the electronic score system was set up we were at full speed. Working our way through the tul divisions, many of which had 32 plus competitors.
I would like to say I managed to keep a track of our medal tally, but was far too busy running between the rings to see much of the events. I did however manage to make contact with Mrs Alison May and she volunteered to keep a tally count of the UKs medals. Please see www.tkd.co.uk Articles for an individual break down on England / Scotland / Wales

DAY 2

5th July and another early start, we completed the tul and moved on to the sparring divisions. We now had four rings running continually with a broad spectrum of umpires, with no more than one umpire per country per ring. The scoring system continued to work flawlessly and saved so much time over the old paper system.

DAY 3

6th July and once again we had the system set up before the umpires meeting. Continued with sparring and opened up a ring for power technique. We finished early today as most of the senior officials were required at congress. Congress was held at the university where many things were discussed including Copyright ownership, Constitution updates and some tournament rule updates were put forward.

DAY 4

7th July we continued to work through the program and finalised all divisions except the finals that were due to be completed the following day.

DAY 5

8th the finals day. Bit easier for me as we concentrated our efforts on the centre ring and only required one scoring system. Not only was I setting up but so was the television company. This was to be broadcast all over South Korea. First ever time will ITF be televised in South Korea, another history making moment that I had the honour of being there!

The finalist showed true spirit and every single final was closely contested. Unfortunately the Russian Male Sparring team pulled out due to injury which left the Argentinean team needing some opponents. The English team who narrowly lost out to the Russians in the semi finals steped up for the demonstration bouts, Nothing to do with being on TV hey guys? All said and done the teams where very evenly match and it went right down to the wire with Argentina just taking the last bout to secure victory. Well done guys but dont forget me when you become huge Hollywood stars :-P

Following the days events there was a meal organised where several Korean dignaturies would give speeches and our president would announce some awards. After the meal Masters Kruk, Master Mok were presented with there 7th degree, Master Troiano, Master Creeden were presented with their 8th Degree.

I was honoured to be present with our Imperial seniors when "ITF President" GM Choi Jung Hwa made a special announcement of an award never before presented by the ITF was to be issued to Master Nicholls. The award titled "SAULABI" originates from the Shila, Baekju and Koguryo period. "SAUL" stands for battle or war, "ABI" means person.
 
This is a presidential award given to a person with unsurpassed service and loyalty. We are proud to have such a Master / Instructor leading the way at Imperial Taekwon-Do. An award well deserved and I'm sure i speak for all Imperial students congratulations!

July 9th was check out day for most of the team, we were up early again and Master Nicholls was finalising the hotel bill. This was in excess of 54k, now thats a bill lol. All had breakfast and were waiting outside for the coaches. We had 80 travelling today and 50 on the 10th. Two 45 seater coaches turned up, and to say my mustang had more luggage space would no be far from the truth. We managed to squeeze every one and there luggage on board, told the drivers to go straight to the airport with out any stops. There was no way we were getting off and on at the services.

We arrived with plenty of time, and from my 2004  experience we would need it. They have a funny way of processing there group check-in. Every one was checked in and we had one missing! Oh know who have we left behind? Ok we got everyone to go through while Master Nicholls and Myself waited for the Scarlet Pimpernel or in other words Mr Woolcock. Some how he managed to get the hotel to ferry him to the airport and he made it in time, Phew.

After the customary swapping of seats the flight was fairly placid on the way home, with everyone just wishing the hours away. On returning to Heathrow I received the message from Mr Kevin McCabe that Lesley McGhie was admitted into hospital, Who manages to get themselves hospitalised after the competition had ended? And she was a coach. The following days flight brought the remaining members home.

Back in sunny old England it took at least a week to recover, but England returned home with numerous World Champions and Best Overall Country. We look forward to 2012 in Canada. Bring It On!
Well that brought us to the end of the event. Wanted to go into more detail about the five days events but everything flew by at a thousand miles an hour and I didnt stop till it was over. Im sure you can see individual competitor and regional reports at www.tkd.co.uk but I just wanted to give an insight from my point of view.

Before I go I would like to wish Mr Josh Wellman a speedy recovery, he managed to get bit by a spider and needed surgery back here in the UK, our competitors that need medical treatment in Korea. The two students who successfully promoted while over there: Miss Lucy Wolf VI, Miss Kimberly Bradshaw IV and finally to all the hard work by our nominated coaches for results well deserved: Mandeep Rauli, Yogi Chand, Glenn Horan and Kerry Burridge.

Thanks to Kerry Burridge for the pictures.

Written by: Mark Skyrme - 2nd August 2010

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