Teen wins world sil­ver medal

Northern News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - BAY­LEY MOOR

Moerewa teen Tasha Wi­hongi is cel­e­brat­ing a sil­ver medal plac­ing at the re­cent world youth cham­pi­onships for Thai box­ing.

Wi­hongi says the re­sult was ‘‘cool, but dis­ap­point­ing’’. The main fo­cus was to win the gold medal, she says.

‘‘I thought I’d won the fight, but ap­par­ently not. But it was sec­ond best in the world, so I was rapt, happy as.

‘‘To even get a medal was pretty cool.’’

Com­pet­ing in the 16 to 17-yearold, 72-75kg, sec­tion, Wi­hongi had just one fight against a Thai fighter out of a planned three, after her op­po­nents were too heavy to make the weight re­quire­ments.

The IFMA (In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Muaythai Ama­teur) cham­pi­onships were held in Bangkok, Thai­land from Au­gust 3-11, with Wi­hongi ar­riv­ing a week be­fore to ac­cli­ma­tise to daily tem­per­a­tures of more than 30 de­grees cel­sius.

In the lead up to the event, which was Wi­hongi’s first time rep­re­sent­ing the New Zealand Black Gloves, the 17-year-old was train­ing twice a day, six days a week.

Hav­ing now reached the age to move into open com­pe­ti­tion against women, Wi­hongi says she is un­sure whether she will now com­pete in this sec­tion - but there have been dis­cus­sions about her train­ing to­wards pos­si­ble Olympic se­lec­tion.

Tasha’s brother Matthew also com­peted in Thai­land, but was elim­i­nated dur­ing the first round of com­pe­ti­tion when his nose bleed wouldn’t stop.

Their par­ents and other sib­lings also trav­elled over, as part of the New Zealand con­tin­gent of 30 fight­ers, plus a large en­tourage.

In Thai box­ing points are scored by us­ing knees, kicks, punches and el­bows against op­po­nents, but fights can also be won by knock­out or tech­ni­cal knock­out.

Bay of Is­lands Lee Gar trainer Nik Jes­sop, who works with the Wi­hongi’s says it is the ‘‘ul­ti­mate pil­grim­age’’ to com­pete in the sport in its home coun­try of Thai­land.

‘‘To fight and see the world’s best fight is amaz­ing.

‘‘It’s awe­some for our kids, they have to work pretty hard to get their medal.

‘‘Tasha and her brother are great role mod­els for our youth in Tai Tok­erau.’’

BAY­LEY MOOR/STUFF

Tasha Wi­hongi with her sil­ver medal from the world youth Thai box­ing cham­pi­onships.

BAY­LEY MOOR/STUFF

Nik Jes­sop and Tasha Wi­hongi of­ten take their train­ing out­side, this time at Wai­tangi.

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