Timaru teenager Yewon (Jane) Lee is taking the taekwondo world by storm.
The 16-year-old Timaru Girls’ High School student recently won gold medals in the Whitestone South Island Open (competing against five others) and the Hyeon Mu New Zealand Open (competing against eight others).
Coach Peter Shaw said Jane displayed almost faultless poomsae in both competitions, with a highlight being when she finished just 0.1 of a point behind a woman in the division above her from the Philippine National Taekwondo team at the Hyeon Mu New Zealand Open.
Jane is a junior 4th poom (black belt) and Mr Shaw said that in this male-dominated sport, to gain this rank is extremely unusual, with just five or six in all of New Zealand, all the others being senior women.
Tawkwondo is the national sport of South Korea and is divided into two parts, kyorugi (fighting) and poomsae (pre-set moves).
Jane’s area of expertise and excellence is in poomsae and Mr Shaw says that to compete at top level involves intense concentration, power, strength, focus, co-ordination and extreme flexibility.
“Jane’s commitment to her sport is faultless. She has a drive and determination that far exceeds most young women of her age.
“Her warm and modest nature reflects the five tenets of taekwondo; courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit perfectly.”
Jane began training with Mr Shaw partway through this year, and, with most of the local tournaments that would have been a good lead-in for her already held, or scheduled too soon to be ready for, the pair had to set their sights on some more high-end competition.
Mr Shaw said a World Taekwondo Oceania (WTO) NZ National Tournament was being planned for late November, and Jane will be invited to compete in this.
“If Jane is successful there is a strong possibility she will be selected to represent New Zealand at International level.