• Bay welcoming 10 countries for International Special Needs Taekwon-Do Games

Bay welcoming 10 countries for International Special Needs Taekwon-Do Games

The biggest team heading to New Zealand for the International Special Needs Taekwon-Do Games being held in Hawke’s Bay will arrive at Napier Airport on Tuesday next week.

The eight-strong Netherlands team, accompanied by a film crew from their home country, will be greeted with a haka by local competitors.

There are representatives from 10 countries entered in the games: Canada; England; Ethiopia; Russia; USA; Malaysia; Iran; Netherlands; Australia, and New Zealand.

“With our home crowd and just on 60 competitors we definitely have the home advantage,” says Special Needs Taekwon-Do New Zealand president and tournament organiser Ben Evans.

“But we are very excited to be bringing so many amazing athletes to our shores for the first  International Special Needs Taekwon-Do Games to be held in New Zealand, and they will certainly provide us with competition. We won’t have it all our own way.”

New Zealand had been very successful in international games held in other jurisdictions. In the last games, in Argentina, New Zealand special needs competitors brought home 43 medals.

Now Hawke’s Bay is hosting, and Mr Evans wants the Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale to be full of spectators on the day of competition: October 5.

“This is top competition by skilled athletes from across the world, from juniors to black belts, across all ages. We want to show our visitors that we appreciate the training they have put in and the skills they have, by turning out in numbers to see them,” Mr Evans says.

“The bouts start at 9am, going right through the day on five mats until the medial ceremony at 2pm, with entry by gold coin donation. “It will be day full of great action.”

It is not just about the competition though, he says.

“It’s about showing off our stunning region while they are here. Some of these teams are coming from the opposite side of the world and some will be here for more than a week.  It may well be the only time they ever visit New Zealand, so we want to make sure they have an awesome time.”

And there will be that Netherlands film crew, taking back footage of Hawke’s Bay to show their people back home.

“That’s pretty special,” says Mr Evans.