Smullen hopeful of top competition for Newlands members in 2021

By Caitlin Smullen

CARL Smullen of Newlands Taekwon-do continues to set his eyes on the future and is hopeful a number of his members will get the opportunity to compete in domestic and international competition this year.

One tournament that Smullen is targeting is the European Championships, expected to be held in Spain in November.

Newlands Stephen Smullen right with Newlands Club coach Carl Smullen 1

Newlands Taekwon-Do Club’s Carl and Stephen Smullen

“As restrictions are lifted over the summer, we’ll have a selection process and hopefully we’ll have between six and 10 competitors from our club going for selection” he said.

“They’re working on Zoom, we’re doing physical training blocks, so some different aerobic training, some strength training, just as much as we can with the tools they have at home. It is tough to try to train our elite athletes at the moment.”

With the possibility of tournaments in the summer, Smullen and the rest of Newlands Taekwondo will continue to push forward with the hope of resuming in-person training soon.

“We’re starting to look at tournaments now for the rest of the year on the Irish level” he continued.  “We’re trying to plan ahead as much as we can.

“Whenever the country gets back down to Level Three, we have permission to run our classes at Level Three and all going well we’ll have our National Champion-ships in November.”

Smullen continues training his members through this lockdown via three Zoom classes a week.

“It's taken a little bit of time to get used to it, but we've found some different ways of working classes, and some new activities from them to work on, different kicking drills and a lot of stretching,” he explained.

“They’re actually making improvements on the online class in certain areas that they wouldn't have in person.

“The first lockdown last year, we just stopped training fully and then we got back over the summer for some outdoor training.

“When we went back to lockdown in September, we said ‘well we can’t have our members not training for that long’, so we went onto Zoom then and we’ve been on since September basically.”

Smullen tried to keep his members motivated through the possibility of future tournaments, as well as the prospect of a grading for members in December.

“It gave the kids something to kind of build towards, to look forward to and it went really well,” Smullen said.

“Normally, when they’re training, they have something to build towards, whether it’s a tournament or grading and that helps to keep their motivation.

“One issue that we found was that when they had no events in the future to prepare for, sometimes motivation would drop, so it was just trying to put in an event that they can look forward to, that they can build up to.

“They did their grading online in December and the people who passed got a sense of accomplishment.”

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