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