U.S. Taekwondo Team Captures Five Medals at CISM Championship
By Claudia Berwager
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa., Aug. 27, 2001 The U.S. military Taekwondo team captured five medals and finished ninth in a field of 19 at the 13th Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Taekwondo Championship Aug. 8-16 at Woensdrecht Air Base, the Netherlands.
A strong Korean team took top honors in the men's division and China won the women's title.
Army Spc. Yelena Pisarenko of the Army's World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colo., took the silver in the women's lightweight division after a loss to Masechocha Thamae of Lesotho. Navy Petty Officer 1st class Liz Evans of Colorado Springs took the silver with a loss in the finals to Elena Asseeva of Russia.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Ivan Abudo from Ramstein Air Base, Germany scored the bronze medal in the men's welterweight division, losing to Young-Keun Lee from Korea.
Army Spc. Darrell Rydholm of Fort Bragg, N.C., earned a well-deserved bronze in the men's middleweight division. After winning two back-to- back contests, he lost to a well-rested Azat Ioussoupov of Russia.
In perhaps the most exciting contest of the entire championship, Army Spc. David Bartlett of Fort Carson met local hero Dennis Bekkers of the Netherlands in the men's featherweight division final. It was a heated contest between two talented and "class-act" fighters. The U.S. delegation did its best to "out-chant" the local crowd that had packed the stands.
In the end, with the contest tied 3-3, the referees awarded the gold to Bekkers for superiority. Bartlett won the crowd's respect and hearts as when he approached Bekkers and lifted him into the air for them to see. The crowd went wild. It was a moment truly indicative of the CISM motto: "Friendship Through Sport." Bartlett received the "Fair Play Award" for sportsmanship at the end of the tournament.
Rounding out the U.S. team were Air Force Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Martinez of Sembach Air Base, Germany; Marine Lance Cpl. John Reyna of Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Army Pvt. Yvonne Marte of Fort Campbell, Ky.; Army PFC Simon Behrndt of Fort Hood, Texas; and Staff Sgt. Kevin Williams and Pvt. Louis Torres from the World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson. Army Sgt. Bongseok Kim of Camp Essayons, South Korea, was head coach, and Curtis Brown from the Air Force was his assistant.
For additional information, check the event Web site at www.bims.mindef.nl.
(Claudia Berwager is sports director at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.)