Six Soldiers win Armed Forces Taekwondo crowns, qualify for CISM
June 28, 2010
By Tim Hipps
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. (Army News Service, June 28, 2010) -- Six Soldiers won their divisions in the 2010 Armed Forces Taekwondo Championships June 19 at Blue Mountain Sports Arena here.
U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program martial artists Staff Sgt. Gilbert Johnson, Sgt. William Rider, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Fennell, Capt. Alexander White and 1st Lt. Steven Ostrander won gold medals, along with All-Army Capt. Punnarin Koy, a Reservist from Minnesota. All of the WCAP fighters are stationed at Fort Carson, Colo.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Beach of Aviano Air Base, Italy, completes the U.S. squad that was selected to compete at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire's 19th World Military Taekwondo Championships, scheduled for July 14-21 at Royal Military College in St. Jean, Quebec, Canada.
At Fort Indiantown Gap, Fennell overcame recent hernia and groin surgery and scored two points in the third and final period of his 6-4 middleweight victory over Air Force Capt. Ascenzo Bonitati, a member of the 2008 CISM Armed Forces Team.
"That was one of the most highly anticipated matches of the whole camp," said Army WCAP coach Sgt. 1st Class David Bartlett, who also will lead the U.S. CISM Team north of the border. "So we were able to get that spot back this year. That was a big upset - an impressive win on his part."
Fennell later prevailed with a three-point kick to the head with 30 seconds remaining against Army Pfc. Rodney "Hyper" Johnson of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for a 5-3 victory in the lightweight division. Johnson, who serves as an optician in San Antonio, is legally blind without glasses.
"He did a lot better than we all expected," said Bartlett, who added that Johnson got knocked out earlier in the week during practice.
Rider was in control throughout his 8-1 featherweight victory over Airman 1st Class Chris Moore of Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
"He's on a hot streak right now and he knew that today was another steppingstone closer to trying to make that 2012 Olympic team," Bartlett said of Rider, who recently won the 2010 Collegiate Nationals, the 2010 Collegiate World Team Trials and earned a spot on the 2010 Collegiate Pan Am Team.
White, who left the Air Force in 2003 and found a break between deployments to compete for the Army, built a 3-0 lead after two periods and held on for a 5-2 victory over Air Force Sgt. Brian Biviano of Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y., in the middleweight class.
White later rallied from a 1-0 deficit for a 4-2 victory over Marine Corps Cpl. Michael King of Washington, D.C., to earn his first berth on the U.S. CISM team.
Koy, a 43-year-old who has served 26 years in the military, defeated civilian Greg Gooden, 3-1, in a flyweight bout to make his first CISM squad.
"This was huge for him," Bartlett said of the oldest U.S. Soldier he recalls ever competing on the CISM level. "It is fun for him, and it is fun for us. He has good spirit. He has a lot to bring to the team, a lot of knowledge, and he's a hard worker. He cut like 10 or 15 pounds for this tournament."
Gilbert Johnson, 33, prevailed 7-2 in a finweight bout against civilian Gooden, who gamely filled spots that lacked military entries.
"Today was a big day for him," Bartlett said of Johnson. "It's taken him nine years just to get to the All-Army level and he made his first CISM team first time out so we expect good things."
Johnson, a natural 118-pound fighter, was a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., during the late 1990s.
In the heavyweight division, three-time national champion Ostrander, 27, needed only one kick to knock out Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer William Nesbit, a 40-year-old from Port Hueneme, Calif.
"When it comes to the heavyweight division, at any time any kick can end a match quick, and that's what happened today," Bartlett said. "The Navy guy was technically sound. He was a very courageous guy and took a chancy shot and got countered with a back kick.
"Steven Ostrander came into this fight weighing 233 pounds and his opponent weighed in at 202. But he signed up for this camp and he knew what he was getting into. Being a servicemember, he did his duty. He went out there and put up a fight, but we were a little stronger today. "
"I was more concerned with how he was," Ostrander replied when asked if he knew how quickly he KO'd Nesbit. "He's OK. I just hit him in the collarbone and it kind of slid up and hit him in the neck. It was a powerful kick, but I didn't expect to hit him there. He kind of leaned back on it. I think it just hurt him and scared him at the same time."
Beach, a 2008 U.S. CISM team member, opened the program with a 6-4 welterweight victory over Spc. Gregory Shepherd, 22, an Army Reservist from Maryland. Biviano ended the show with a 5-1 victory over King for second place in the middleweight class.
Before heading to Canada, all of the competitors in the Armed Forces Championships are eligible to travel to Orlando for the 2010 U.S. National Taekwondo Championships on July 4.
"It's an Olympic qualifying year so it's very important that the guys place top four in the national championships," Bartlett said.
"The Olympic Trials are the ultimate goal, so it's a big deal," Ostrander concurred.
The top two finishers in Orlando will automatically qualify for the Olympic Trials, Pan Am Trials and World Championship Trials.
(Tim Hipps writes for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs.)