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Khyan Townsend to fight on the world stage as he continues Geraldton’s taekwondo legacy

Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Khyan Townsend and master Jason Bradley.
Camera IconKhyan Townsend and master Jason Bradley. Credit: Jake Santa Maria

Khyan Townsend will be representing Australia in August’s world taekwondo championships as he continues Geraldton’s strong fighting spirit.

Townsend, a member of from Oceanic Taekwon-Do Academy, will be heading to Astana Kazakhstan to take part in the 22nd ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships becoming the 19th student from the club to represent Australia in the past 19 years.

Townsend has been due to be part of the championships, which are held every two years, in 2020 before COVID scuppered his plans.

However, Townsend was not deterred by the setback and set his sights on making sure he achieved a goal he’s been chasing since 2017.

“As soon as borders reopened I was like right I’m gonna go,” he said. “Once you turn 18 you fight guys up to 34 years old so being my last junior year at 17 I was lucky to make the team.”

“Taekwondo is freeing when you’re in the ring, it’s nothing but you and the guy across from you and the patterns are good for the mind.”

In the lead-up to the tournament, Townsend has been going down to Perth to spar almost every week and said the next months would be key to making sure he peaked at the right time.

“I’ve been sparring with guys who have competed and medalled at the worlds before and these next three months will really ramp up, you want to make sure you hit your peak come to the championships,” he said.

“Hopefully I’ll do well come the tournament, it’s what you train for but we’ll just have to wait and see.

“What I most looking forward to most is the level of competitiveness that is brought out in you at that level, it’s gonna be pretty hard those guys over there are looking to take your head off, so just got to go as hard as I can and that’s what I’m most looking forward to.”

When asked about the secret to Geraldton’s success in getting to the world stage Townsend simply said, “the country breeds them different”.

For instructor master Jason Bradley Townsend’s success has come as no surprise.

“I’ve known Khyan since about nine or 10 years of age and watching his development just get better and better, his kicks are very strong, holding the pads for him he’s cracked one of my ribs before, he’s very determined and very focused.”

Bradley stepping up to the world will no doubt be a challenge but the key will be just getting through that first fight.

“I’ve said to him, ‘You’ve got to make sure to concentrate on that first competitor that you’ve got don’t think all medal, medal, medal, and then you’re out in the first round. Think of getting past that first round and anything past that as an extra bonus.,” he said.

“It has always been hard for Australians to get past that first or second round.”

More broadly Bradley has attributed the success of Geraldton fighters to their drive and determination though like many COVID hit hard but said he hoped Townsend’s success would inspire others.

“I think it’s the dedication and determination they put in towards their training and then when we go to competitions, they see that the level of their skill here is, is not way above everyone else in Australia,” he said.

“We’re right up there with those top-level competitors and that’s where we actually go for selections and then get selected to go and represent Australia.

“Once COVID hit, everyone disappeared in this class, I’ve still got a lot of the juniors, but to maintain those numbers they’ve got to have a goal.

“Because they’ve seen members that I’ve had within my club, go and represent Australia, and actually medal at the world championships they go, ‘right, I want to be like that,’ so they’ve got someone there at that pinnacle and gone on to follow that.”

Khyan’s journey to the world would not have been possible without community support raising funds for his journey.

“A lot of sponsors that came through to get over because my family couldn’t afford it ourselves,” he said.

“The JK Foundation has been a really big help, SMS group, GSAC, AFGRI, Mader, Active West Real Estate, Dongara Marine, Central West Health and Rehabilitation, AB cleaning services and all the other families are chipped in.”

The championships will take place from August 15-30.

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