Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

KYLE Higginbotham went into the recent United ITF Australian Taekwon-Do Championships to prove a point, and left with two gold medals.

The 19-year-old from Mildura’s Ataru Taekwon-Do competed in the World Championships in Argentina in late July as part of the Australian team, and returned home just 10 days before heading to the Gold Coast for the Nationals.

“I didn’t get any medals at the World Championships so I really saw the Nationals as a chance to prove to other people that I deserved my place in the Australian team,” he said.

Kyle did just that, winning gold medals in Sparring and Patterns, as well as a silver medal in the Power Breaking Sidekick.

“I was pretty happy with my results,” he said.

“Last year’s Nationals was when I qualified for the Australian team, and I think I came first in special techniques, second in patterns and third in sparring.

“I’m definitely happier with my form this time around.”

While he may not have returned from Buenos Aires with a medallion around his neck, Kyle’s first experience competing on the world stage was still worthwhile.

Spending time with World Championship veterans from within his Australian team, as well as from other countries, meant he learned a number of new tricks of the trade.

“Argentina was crazy… an amazing experience,” Kyle said.

“I would have only had about five minutes of mat time, but I got to watch and learn from some of the best in the world. Everyone competing in all disciplines were stupidly good.

“As an Australian team we all stayed in the same hotel and all had breakfast together, and once the tournament finished we spent a bit more time together.

“While it was my first time at the World Championships, I had the opportunity to talk to people who were competing for the fourth, fifth or sixth time. They’re all veterans that know what that level of competition is all about, and many of them compete in specialty areas.

“I don’t really want to be boxed in as a specialist in a particular area. I enjoy all competitive sections and I love to say that I’m an all-round martial artist.

“Here we compete in Taekwon-Do for the fun of it. For a lot of guys over there, it’s a full-time job.

“I definitely want to be part of the 2020 World Championships in Russia.”