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Taekwondo Finishes Notable Season With Victory at Columbia

By Richard D. Chambers

On March 22, the MIT Sport Taekwondo team ended its season true to form by continuing its year-long dominance over the Ivy Northeast Collegiate League at the Columbia Tournament.

This tourney was more than the end of a season; it also marked the final appearances of team stalwarts Bobby B. Ren G (captain), Tom B. Wilson G, Conor F. Madigan G, Jordan B. Brayanov G, Ryan B. Huang ’06, and Alicia Y. Zhou ’06. It was therefore fitting that this group, many of whom have built the team from its beginning, accepted the League Championship after a remarkable season notable for the unchallenged successes of the MIT team.

The tournament started with early wins in forms competition, with Richard Sinn ’06 and Erica Y. Chan ’07 both accepting gold medals in the black belt division and Rene R. Chen ’07 winning amongst red belts. Soon after, Iliya T. Tsekov ’08 followed suit by claiming his first silver medal in forms competition, joined by fellow silver medalists John T. Wong ’06, gold medalist Christine M. Lee ’09, and bronze medalists Huang, Chris J. Han ’09, and newcomer Jaclyn J. Ho ’09.

The team fared equally well in sparring, with the black belt competitors leading the way.

The top women lineup, consisting of Zhou, Erica Y. Chan ’07, and Ziyan Chu ’07, catapulted forward in convincing wins against Cornell and Army. Fighting above her weight class, Chan managed to win by clear technical superiority, opening the way for Zhou to win her final League match in close competition, securing gold for the team. Zhou ended her season undefeated in sparring.

On the opposite side of the field, John C. Ho G, Sinn, and Ren moved into the men’s black belt finals with lopsided victories. But they eventually yielded first place to Cortland University in a stunning series of bouts which attracted the attention of almost all competitors; a supportive chant of “Bobby, Bobby” could be heard throughout the auditorium.

MIT demonstrated further acumen in the intermediate and novice divisions. First, teammates Sharon A. Lawrence ’07, Chu, and Chen, fresh off the heels of a fourth place win in the advanced division, returned to dominate their new challengers and conquer gold. Teammates Corrina Hui ’09, Lee, and Kendra L. Pugh ’09 claimed bronze in that division, while Tsekov, Wong, and Han did the same for the men.

At the same time, the novice women (Hui, Lee, Pugh) and men (Stephen H. Petraeus ’09, Allan Fong G, and Han) breezed through their brackets, claiming gold and bronze respectively.

After hours of competition, the day’s matches concluded with the men’s intermediate team, consisting of Richard-Duane S. Chambers G, John C. Ho G, and Huang, pitted against perpetual rival Cornell University. Huang won his match 1-0, while Ho entered his third overtime match of the day, fighting strongly but losing in sudden death in the penultimate battle. The group took gold, however, as Chambers defeated his opponent in the final contest.

With competition closed, MIT accepted first place at Columbia after having claimed 691 points, closing the season with a staggering 2554 points overall. By contrast, silver and bronze medalists West Point and Army had gathered season totals of 1255 and 758 points, respectively. Closing ceremonies, therefore, were a time for MIT to shine, with Chan and Sinn both taking home well-deserved MVP awards. Before headed home, the team concluded with appropriate poignancy, meeting with sister team Cornell and taking pictures of departing greats with their well-owned trophies.