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Black, gold and green gains for Brown

DISCIPLINED: Brown

HAVING BEEN a stalwart in Team GB’s taekwondo squad for over a decade, Olympian Craig Brown has decided to represent Jamaica and is feeling incredibly patriotic and excited to fight for the Caribbean nation.

The 30-year-old fought at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games for Britain, captured bronze medals at the 2005 and 2006 European Championships, won the British Championship eight times and narrowly missed out on selection for 2008 Beijing and London 2012.

But for the experienced fighter, who first began the Korean martial art – which when translated means ‘the art of kicking and punching’ – aged 10, switching allegiances had a deeper meaning than just competing for another country.

Explaining his decision to the Voice of Sport, the Peckham, southeast London native said: “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. When I qualified for Athens for Great Britain my dad passed away. He was always really behind me and his side of the family are from Jamaica. I know it would’ve made him proud to do it for Jamaica so I tried to do it before London but it was a bit too late. But this time, when I saw the opportunity there, I just went for it.

“I was 21 at the time (of the Athens Olympics) and it was quite surreal. It was new to me and I didn’t know what to expect. It was quite disappointing not to get as far as I could’ve but it was a great experience that I definitely want to have again.”


GEARED UP: The south Londoner in Team GB apparel prior to London 2012

He continued: “I was very close to going to Beijing and 2012 but it’s only put more wood in the fire for me to really push for 2016 and it’ll be a great privilege and honour to represent Jamaica. I know my dad would be so proud. He died two weeks before I qualified for Athens so that was quite hard to take. But I know nothing would make him more proud than to look down from heaven to see me competing for Jamaica.”

In order to makes ends meet Brown, who fights in the -80kg weight category and made his Jamaica debut in May, runs taekwondo classes at the Positive Impact Taekwondo School in South Bermondsey and teaches up to 25 youngsters the discipline that the combat sport installs.

“Taekwondo had a great influence on me and I’m hoping to use taekwondo to have that good influence on other young people as well,” said Brown.

“Growing up in a place like Peckham there’s obviously a lot of distractions, bad temptations and influences and I feel like taekwondo helped me to be disciplined, make better choices, keep fit, make friends and to build good morals. I feel that those morals and stability that taekwondo has given me has taken me all through my life.”

Brown is currently training for a month Stateside in Boston, Massachusetts with Jamaica head coach Fabio Takahashi. The immediate goal is success at the World Championships in Puebla, Mexico on July 15-21. But the ultimate ambition is glory in three years time at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“The targets are the World Championships this year and the plan is to get a medal but the long-term goal is 2016,” he said. “That is what I’m fully focussed on and the World Championships are a stepping stone in that direction.”


FACE-OFF: Brown (left) against 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Muhammad in 2011

But will it be weird for him to come up against his former team-mates such as London 2012 bronze medallist Lutalo Muhammad?

“Well to be honest we’ve fought each other even while we were in the same team so it won’t be the first time. I will be under a different flag but taekwondo is an individual sport,” said Brown.

“Even though we might have trained together in the past, worked together, even shared a hotel room; when we’re competing you’ve got to be very selfish in a sense. At the end of the day it’s you or him. If they’re in your weight category they’re a possible adversary. I’ll be ready to take the challenge.”

Taekwondo has been an Olympic sport since the 2000 Sydney Games and Jamaica had their first representative in the guise of Kenneth Edwards last year. Brown believes that Jamaica’s taekwondo set up will only improve and also has a message for the people of the Land of Wood and Water.

“I think it’s a good partnership and I’m part of a good team, the team is growing and I think Team Jamaica’s got a great future. I can see myself getting some really good results.

“I’d tell them (Jamaicans) to watch out because I’m looking to achieve great things for Jamaica. I’m hoping to really take the world by storm now. I’ve got a lot of experience, passion, determination and skill. It’s going to be a good journey.”

*For more information visit facebook.com/CraigBrownTKD or follow Craig on Twitter @CraigyBTKD

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