2016 German Open Championship
The AAU Taekwondo National Teams traveled once again to the wonderful city of Hamburg to participate in the 2016 German Open Championship.
This year’s entourage consisted of our National Cadet, Junior, and Senior Teams as well as a good number of B Team Members - along with a handful of siblings and other AAU members for a total of 54 competitors making AAU Taekwondo the largest team in attendance (Poland fielded 41). These outstanding athletes were joined by our six National coaches - Masters Greg Tubbs, Patrice Remarck, Sang Cha, Luciano Medina, Georgie Martinez, and Ms. Arlene Limas. Joining this fantastic staff were also Regional coaching staff members, Dennis Kim, Dennis White and John Paul Noyes.
What a successful trip it was! “After having captured First Place Junior Team at the 2014 German Open, I knew we had our work cut out for us at the 2016 event to duplicate that outstanding achievement," says National Chair Mike Friello. "Particularly given the fact that the 2016 championship was drawing some 50 athletes qualified for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, but the 2016 national Teams did even better!”
Saturday started the weekend competition with a bang - with Team AAU/USA capturing 5 Golds and 4 Bronze medals. By the end of the day, AAU held a strong First Place position. However, we had a rough start on Sunday dropping the first five or six matches we participated in. Would all our hard work from Saturday be for nothing? Hardly! The balance of Sunday’s competitors just got on a roll and did not stop until they had banked an additional 7 gold medals, 1 Silver, and additional 6 Bronze - for a grand total of 12 Gold, 1 silver, and 10 Bronze.
A total of 23 medals—a 44% win rate (2 athletes were forced to withdraw from the trip at the last minute)!
“This kind of performance only substantiates the real quality of the AAU Taekwondo Program and in particular the strength of our Cadet/Junior Programs. It was a very difficult decision to swing our financial support from Senior Team to Cadet Team a couple of years ago. But, these kinds of results only confirms to us that given our limited resources, this was certainly the way to go. As the grassroots program for Taekwondo in the United States, it is imperative that the focus on these younger and younger athletes to help them to reach their unlimited potential in the future."
If there were just some outstanding performances by our individual team members it would be extremely difficult to single out any one or even a small group of them for individual accolades. This was a TEAM WIN. The entire group was totally involved the entire time of our stay—regardless of whether it was training, meetings, breakfast, competition and Sunday night’s Team Dinner—which also included all the accompanying parents, siblings, and individual coaches—a group that totaled over 100!
“I couldn’t be more proud”, said Master Friello. " I’m just not sure how we can top this! We are already making plans to somehow include more of our B Team and Senior team members."
This year’s National Championship is shaping up to be the largest ever with membership and qualifying event participation up some 25%. More athletes, harder competition. Stronger competition will lead to an even stronger Team Trials event. That in turn should mean an even stronger team and great B Team for 2017.