New­ton’s high­kicks and­high goals

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - KRIS DANDO

‘‘I want to make an im­pact for New Zealand.’’

The sound of feet and hands thump­ing into pads makes New­town Sythong smile.

The Can­nons Creek 17-year-old has been in­volved in the mar­tial arts dis­ci­pline for just six years but has al­ready gar­nered a lot of at­ten­tion.

‘‘We’ve had op­po­nents pull out of tour­na­ments if they know they’re go­ing to have to face him,’’ his in­struc­tor Paleti Mur­phy, from Ti­tahi Bay Taek­wondo Club, said.

‘‘He brings an in­ten­sity and a quick­ness that oth­ers don’t have - it’s im­pres­sive. I’m a big guy, but he moves me back­wards when we’re on the pads.’’

Sythong, a year 13 stu­dent at Aotea Col­lege, is ex­cited about be­ing se­lected to com­pete for New Zealand in the 68kg di­vi­sion at the Taek­wondo World Cham­pi­onships in June.

‘‘I can’t wait to test my­self against some pretty se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion - I’m not sure what I’m in for in South Korea, but I know it’s go­ing to be hard,’’ he said.

‘‘The main thing I want to do is make an im­pact for New Zealand.’’

Sythong took up taek­wondo six years ago, ca­joled into at­tend­ing a ses­sion with a friend. He was quickly hooked.

‘‘Be­cause there’s a lot of high kicks, I was into it straight away.

‘‘The feel­ing of your feet or hands hit­ting the pads is pretty amaz­ing and I want to do it bet­ter each time.’’

It’s been a swift ride to be­com­ing a black belt, which he was proud to achieve last year.

‘‘It was one of the hard­est things I’ve ever done - there was hun­dreds of push ups and taek­wondo pat­terns I had to do. ‘‘It felt like it went on for­ever.’’ Sythong said he owed plenty to Mur­phy and the other club mem­bers.

‘‘He picks me up some­times for train­ing and he pushes me hard, but I get the re­wards from it. I wouldn’t be where I am with­out the club, who help me a lot.’’

Mur­phy had high hopes for Sythong in South Korea.

‘‘It’s a massive op­por­tu­nity and there will be a lot of pres­sure on him, be­cause I set a high bar.

‘‘He’s com­mit­ted, has prob­a­bly missed eight train­ings ever, and has the right mind­set to go far.’’

Next year Sythong would like to go to univer­sity to study physiotherapy, but said taek­wondo will al­ways be a part of his life, no mat­ter how busy it gets.

PHOTO: KRIS DANDO

Porirua’s New­ton Sythong, who will rep­re­sent New Zealand at the Taek­wondo World Cham­pi­onships in South Korea in June.

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