Docklands taekwon-do youngsters take on competitors abroad — but only online

Sienna McClure and Emily Bonfante from Docklands Taekon-Do School.

Sienna McClure and Emily Bonfante from Docklands Taekwon-Do school. - Credit: DTDS

Young martial arts enthusiasts at an Isle of Dogs club couldn’t get their kicks in international tournaments because of the global pandemic — so they competed online to webcams instead. 

Taekwon-do's European Federation staged its latest international contest with online participation for the first time, with the east London youngsters allowed to perform remotely to a panel of judges that attracted 900 competitors worldwide.

It was a tough call, but four members of Docklands Taekwon-Do entered - adult Isabel Brider and three juniors.

“This was a good result overall for the club,” coachmaster Thomas Denis told the East London Advertiser. “Most of our training has been using Zoom sessions because of the pandemic, while our opponents abroad have had the luxury of training in halls and full-time gyms.” 

The young competitors had to hold up a match code and then were not allowed to leave the screen. 

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Charlene Contreras’ first competition got her to the semi-final with a 5-0 win, before she took the final with 4-1 in her category against a Polish opponent.  

Sienna McClure got through the 32 rounds with a 5-0 win at each stage to the semi-final, achieving a 3-2 win in the final against a German rival.  

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Emily Bonfante had a hard draw in 32 rounds when she had a fall, narrowly losing to her opponent.  

But there was also heartbreak for a fifth team member, Izzy Brider, when she suffered a freak injury just three days before filming and fractured her foot. Izzy was one of the favourites for her division, who has previously won everything in taekwon-do from “patterns” to “parring” over several years. 

Docklands Taekwon-Do will be holding evening sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays at George Green’s Secondary School in Manchester Road, Cubitt Town, once restrictions are lifted — "kiddie kickers" age four and five and "power kickers" age six and seven meet 6pm - 6.30pm, followed by "junior kickers" age seven to 14 at 6.30pm -7.30pm. 

The club has been running at the school since 1989 and has produced Gold medallists at World and European competitions over the years.

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