New Zealand taekwondo team talk of the town
JONATHAN MILLMOW IN LONDON
The New Zealand taekwondo team may not win a medal in London but they would certainly win any prize for bringing colourful athletes to the competition.
No taekwondo athlete has made more headlines in London than Logan Campbell, the former Auckland brothel owner, who also just happens to be dyslexic.
After coming home from the Beijing Olympics $90,000 out of pocket, Campbell decided the best way to fund his bid for London was to open a gentleman's club.
"I sold the brothel so I don't really want to talk about it now, OK," he told the Yahoo website.
Campbell sold the 15 room club in 2011 when it became clear that his association with the brothel could damage his selection prospects.
He fights Ukraine's Hryhorii Husarov in the under 68kg division on Thursday at 8.45pm (NZ time) and is not without some hope.
Campbell was 16th in Beijing but is currently ranked No 12 in the world.
"He is in good condition at the moment so is a good chance," Master Jin Keun Oh, national team coach for Taekwondo New Zealand, said.
Another athlete with a story to tell is Vaughn Scott. He was born in Cape Town, was once approached by junior NRL scouts and his mother is a third-dan black belt in karate.
Scott looks to have a tough start in the under 80kg division against fourth seed Se Crismanich from Argentina at 11.15pm (NZ time) on Friday. Scott is ranked 11th in the field.
New Zealand's final competitor is 23 year-old Robyn Cheong. She fights in the under 57kg division and first up takes on Egyptian Hedaya Wahba on Thursday at 10pm (NZ time).
Cheong finished seventh in the under 49kg division in Beijing four years ago and has been training and fighting in Korea in the buildup to London.
"My personal goal, of course, is to medal," she said. "I know it will be hard but I must be confident.
"It is my second Olympics so that helps keep me calm."
Meanwhile, judging will be done differently in London. Whereas judges used to score the bouts, each scoring kick will now be recorded electronically via foot and body pads.
It is viewed as possibly taking away some of the inherent bias shown towards fighters from traditional taekwondo countries.
Also, kicks to the head are now worth three as opposed to one to the body. A hook kick, or spinning round-house kick, will gain an extra point.
- © Fairfax NZ News