Athletes return from world tae kwon do tournament

By Tony Parra

By Tony Parra
PNT Staff Writer
Tony_Parra@link.freedom.com
The best in the world traveled to South Korea for the International Tae Kwon Do Federation World Championships and competitors from Portales and Clovis battled others, with Audra Brown from Portales winning a bronze medal.
“The competition was very tough and challenging,” Brown said. “I think I did very well considering the competition I was going up against.”
Steve Blakeley from the Eastern New Mexico Tae Kwon Do school in Portales was one of the coaches at the international competition. Blakeley and the three area competitors returned from South Korea on Thursday. Blakeley said the competitors were in Daejeon City, South Korea and gone from the area for 10 days. There were 1,180 black belts from 44 countries at the event.
“I really enjoyed the people, they were really nice,” Brown said.
She is a second-degree black belt. Brown, along with Nicole Frank of Portales and Mark Yoesting of Clovis competed in the tae kwon do events. All three are members of ENMTKD.
Frank, a first-degree black belt, said she enjoyed the trip, but was glad to come home after 10 days.
“When you compete, you’re real focused,” Frank said. “I had no issues when I was on the main stage. I was very proud of myself. We did well against all the other countries. Mark did a good job in his individual competitions.”
Frank said she suffered a sprained ankle before leaving to South Korea, but felt no pain during the competition.
Brown came away with a bronze medal in power breaking. Power breaking is an event in which a competitor tries to break boards. She also competed in specialty breaking, which is when boards are set at heights starting at eight feet and competitors attempt to break the boards. The boards are raised until one competitor is left.
Each country also has a five-person male and female team and for the first time ever, the U.S. men’s team snatched the best all-around title.
“I was impressed with all of my students’ performances,” Blakeley said. “This was the first time any of the local three has competed at this level. It is the first time any student of the ENMTKD or anyone in our part of the state has qualified to compete at this level. They all represented our area well.”
“I have been in tae kwon do for 35 years and some of the competition amazed even me,” Blakeley said. “Some of the countries … pay their team to train and compete at this event. It is an honor just to qualify and compete in the event. This is the highest level of competition in tae kwon do.”
Blakeley said an opening ceremony kicked off the event with a fireworks display on Oct. 14. There was an awards ceremony on Oct. 19. Blakeley said there were many donors from the area for the trip.
Blakeley said there will be a DVD of the competition made from video clips the competitors and coaches made.
“Mr. Blakeley did a great job of preparing us,” Frank said. “It’s just amazing to think we came from a small town and fared well against the best competition from the rest of the world.”