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After a tense season filled with painstakingly close matches and a narrow overall point difference, the MIT Sport Taekwondo team took first place at the last ECTC (Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference) tournament of the year at Columbia University on Saturday, April 25th. For the team, coached by head instructor Master Dan Chuang and led by captains Corinna Hui ’09 and Christopher J. Han ’09, this victory was an accompaniment to a much greater achievement: the title of ECTC champions for the 2008–2009 season. This is the first time the team has taken home the cup since the 2005–2006 season. Hui was also named female MVP for the league, an honor given to a competitor who shows both excellence in competition and leadership.

The team wasted no time in demonstrating their desire for the ECTC cup. Although MIT had the lead in overall standings going into this tournament, rival Cornell University was close at their heels with only a narrow point difference. The result of this tournament would determine overall league outcome — namely, whether or not MIT would take home the cup for the season.

In the forms competition, MIT kept up its outstanding performance by placing in all the belt divisions. In black belt forms, Daniel J. Sauza ’11 captured silver in the men’s division, while Erika Lee ’12 placed third in the women’s division.

In red belt forms, Christine Lee ’09 and Ranbel F. Sun ’10 captured the silver and bronze, respectively, while in the men’s division Forrest Liau G seized the bronze. For blue belt forms, Andrew K. Sugaya ’11 took the bronze.

As for green belt forms, Hsin-Jung “Sophia” Li ’11 and Teresa “Ty” Lin ’12 delivered outstanding forms to obtain the gold and bronze respectively, while Ryan A. Rosario ’12 demonstrated his prowess and captured the gold. In yellow belt forms, Sharon W. Tam ’10 seized the silver.

Even after a promising morning of forms, MIT never relented as the sparring competition began. The ECTC cup was within reach, but the same was true for rival team Cornell.

The men’s A1 team (Ning Wu G, Han, Liau) muscled their way through a very competitive bracket to take home the gold for the first time since 2006. They defeated Cornell’s top two teams to gain a 185-point swing in the overall standings. As for the women, the A1 team (Shammi Quddus ’10, Hui, Christine Chin ’09) fought hard and valiantly captured the silver, while A2 (Sun, Han Zhu ’09, Stephanie Nix ’09) seized bronze.

In B team sparring, men’s B1 (Wu, Jason Uh ’10, Liau) claimed silver, while the women’s B teams once again fought courageously and dominated the division by triple placing, with B1 (Quddus, Zhu, Chin) claiming first, B2 (Sun, Nix, Li) grabbing second, and B3 (Christine Hsueh ’11, Lee, Lin) capturing third.

Even the C teams exerted their will to win the cup onto their opponents. Both the women’s C1 (Hseuh, Lin, Li) and the men’s C1 (Rosario, David Y. Wen ’10, Ijeoma “EJ” Emeagwali ’12) showed their force by snatching the gold.

At the end of the day, the determination and audacity of the team paid off as MIT walked away from the ring as winners of the tournament and as ECTC champions. The victory rounds out an amazing season, in which the team won both the ECTC cup and the overall national championships in the same year. Even though the season has ended and the many seniors will now move on to other adventures, the team will never forget the journey to what was described as a fairy tale ending, and will only look forward to a brighter future.