TAEKWONDO: Local teenager, Presley Johnson of Banora Point is one of eight local taekwondo students from Tans Currumbin who are flying out this week for an adventure of a life time when they head to the US to compete in the US Open Taekwondo Championships in Las Vagas. The event will be held at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino between 19 and 23 February 2014.

Presley is a third time National Champion, he attends Tweed River High and is also an active member of the Marley's Patrol at Rainbow Bay Surf Club. He is attending this international event with fellow club members and other Taekwondo athletes from all over Australia as part of the TEAMAUS. "It's going to be a great test for me and I am looking forward to the challenge of competing internationally and hope to match it with the world's best", said Presley.

"The US Open is the hardest international competition besides the World Championships and the Olympics. It is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable experience fighting internationally at events such as this at such a young age", said head Coach Ben Hartmann.

The Cadet Division was only introduced in Australia in 2013, previously only Junior and Senior Sparring Division fight using full head contact. Cadets (12-14 years), Junior (15-17 years) and Senior (17 & over) now all compete in head contact weight divisions and fight over 3 rounds scoring points. Athletes from overseas learn to fight with head contact from a younger age so they are highly skilled and much more experienced in comparison to our Australian Cadets.

Head Coaches Ben Hartmann and his brother Daniel Hartmann as well as sister Joanne Hartmann, team manager said they are looking forward to the trip. Hartmann said it will be the first time the cadets students will compete internationally and said most of them have been training for months to increase their chances of a win. A lot of them have been training every day since their last competition which was the Australian Championships in September with only a short break over the Christmas period.

The US Open will be a great start to an exciting year for the Tans Currumbin elite athletes, especially the Cadets. In April they head to Perth, WA to compete in the selection trials, to hopefully earn themselves a spot on the Australian Team for The Oceania Championships in Paper New Guinea in June and the 1st WTF World Cadet Championships in Baku in July. They also hope to attend the New Zealand Open in 2-4 May. In August they will also travel down to Sydney, NSW to compete in the Australian Open Championships. There will also be various State competitions throughout the year as well.

Most taekwondo athletes in Australia are self funded and trips all over Australia and international events can become expensive and difficult for families to afford the extra costs of accommodation, airfares and transport fees on top of the costs involved in training and purchasing the necessary sparring equipment.

The Tans Currumbin Club are trying to support their elite athletes by assisting with fundraising activities and also seeking financial sponsorship to cover some of the expenses. If anyone is able to assist with financial donations or donations of prizes / vouchers they can use to raffle off please get in contact with Head Coach Ben Hartmann 0410 702 357. It would be a shame for our athletes to miss out on opportunities to represent their local communities, club, state & nation at the taekwondo events around the world due to financial difficulties.

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