ARGENTINA AWAITS: Kyle Higginbotham has qualified for the 2018 World Taekwon-Do Championships. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

EARNING a place on the Australian Taekwon-Do team just three years after learning the martial art is no mean feat.

Mildura’s Kyle Higginbotham has done just that and will compete at next year’s World Championships in Argentina.

The 18-year-old will become the 10th representative from Mildura’s Ataru Taekwon-Do to represent ‘the Green and Gold’, an impressive feat from a small country club.

Under the tutelage of World Championship gold medallist and coach Darren Williams, Kyle qualified for the senior team at the recent Australian Taekwon-Do Championships in Adelaide.

He will compete in four disciplines; Sparring, Patterns, Power Breaking and Special Technique. As well as selection, Kyle also won a silver medal in Special technique, and bronze medals in Patterns and Sparring.

“It will be my first time to the World Championships,” the young gun said.

“I’m really excited. It will be great experience. I started Taekwon-Do at 15 and once I got into competing, I found that going to the World Championships became a goal of mine.

“Taekwon-Do started out as a hobby and now it’s become a lifestyle for me.”

Ataru Taekwon-Do competitors collected a massive 22 medals between them at the Nationals.

Darren claimed gold medals in Sparring, Power Side Kick and Special Technique, becoming a seven-time Australian Sparring champion along the way. He also won a silver medal in Patterns and bronze in Knife Hand. Darren was also awarded his fifth degree black belt to round out an outstanding weekend’s performance.

Lachlan Anderson claimed silver medals in Sparring, Patterns, Power Knife Hand and Power Side Kick. John Zaffina won silver medals in Sparring and Power Knife Hand, and bronze in Special Technique. Corbin Copeman won silver in Sparring and bronze in Patterns.The club also won a silver medal in Team’s Patterns.

Darren heaped praise on his young protege, believing Kyle is a better competitor than he was at the same age. For the record, Darren has won six World Championship gold medals!

“He’s come a long way in such a short time,” he said of Kyle. “He’s far better than I was at his age.

“Kyle was fortunate enough to qualify in four different events, which doesn’t happen too often. It’s a great sign of his ability. While he has more opportunities to win a medal, it also means more training in different areas.

“Everyone who we’ve had compete at World Championships, we try to get them to go twice. The first time around is a great learning experience and they will be more prepared for it on the second attempt.

“Kyle is now our 10th representative from the club to compete in the World Championships. For a small country club, that is an incredible achievement. It certainly gives me a great sense of pride.”