Sythong takes first step to Olympics

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JAMES PAUL

‘‘I'm a lit­tle bit ner­vous, but also very ex­cited - there are a lot of mixed emo­tions.’’

Over the com­ing days, 17-year-old New­ton Sythong will be ac­cli­ma­tis­ing him­self to the higher al­ti­tude and tem­per­a­tures of South Korea as his bid at the World Taek­wondo Cham­pi­onship starts.

The young ath­lete has set him­self a goal of one day com­pet­ing at the Olympics, and said his first time rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand in the Se­nior 68kg divi­sion in the com­ing weeks is a step­ping stone.

Be­fore leav­ing for Muju, South Korea, last Sun­day, Sythong was up in the early hours ev­ery morn­ing with Ti­tahi Bay Taek­wondo Club in­struc­tor Paleti Mur­phy to run laps around the Aotea La­goon at Porirua.

Due to the milder tem­per­a­tures, the duo took their prepa­ra­tion to the nearby Te Rau­paraha Arena and Aquatic Cen­tre for re­sis­tance train­ing fol­lowed by more prac­tice in the evening.

For some­one like Sythong, who set him­self a goal of reach­ing the pin­na­cle of the sport, they had to find the time to train, Mur­phy said.

They scaled back the phys­i­cal train­ing over the past two weeks to al­low Sythong to fo­cus more on the men­tal prepa­ra­tion.

Arena staff lent them space to fine-tune Sythong’s move­ments, com­bi­na­tions and tweak his strat­egy and tech­nique.

‘‘When I en­ter the ring I must en­sure I’m think­ing about my tran­si­tion, de­fence and tim­ing, then the tech­nique and ex­e­cu­tion of the at­tack - if one of those aren’t ex­e­cuted ef­fi­ciently then the rest won’t,’’ Sythong said.

Sythong will be among more than 970 ath­letes from 183 to com­pete from Satur­day, and has his sights on win­ning as many matches as pos­si­ble.

Last week he said the op­por­tu­nity didn’t yet feel real but hoped it will put the Ti­tahi Bay Taek­wondo club on the map.

‘‘I’m a lit­tle bit ner­vous, but also very ex­cited - there are a lot of mixed emo­tions,’’ he said. ‘‘This will be the step­ping stone to­wards get­ting to the Olympics, I’ll take all the ex­pe­ri­ence from the cham­pi­onships and con­tinue with more hard work.’’

JAMES PAUL/FAIR­FAX NZ

For months New­ton Sythong has been pre­par­ing for his first World Taek­wondo Cham­pi­onships

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