A Blackpool taekwondo club is celebrating a fantastic haul of 15 gold medals – and one of the winners may just have high-kicked his way to a new world record.
One of two sparring golds won by Connor Bailey at the Supreme Taekwondo Technical and Sparring Championships in Widnes was won with a knockout timed at just 1.5 seconds.
The 18-year-old’s first-kick victory has become an internet sensation, focusing worldwide attention on Il Gi Taekwondo in Blackpool.
(And you can take your first step in taekwondo for free courtesy of your Gazette - see bottom of article)
Conor and his dad Russ are both fourth Dan black belts and run the Il Gi Taekwondo club at Moor Park Health and Leisure Centre.
They live in Marton and are both students of eighth Dan Grandmaster Craig Waddington, a revered instructor of 44 years standing who runs the nearby Blackpool Stanley Park and Palatine Il Gi Taekwondo clubs.
Students from the Blackpool clubs joined forces with great success in Widnes, winning gold in all but one of the technical/pattern categories and winning eight of their 10 fights.
And among the fights it was Connor’s sensational blink-and-you-miss-it victory which grabbed most attention.
His instructor Waddington told The Gazete: “I’ve been teaching Connor since he was about six and he’s the best student I’ve ever had.
“He was British pattern (technical) champion as a boy but hasn’t done much fighting. This is the Olympic style of taekwondo and Connor’s performance suggests he has a big future at it.
“I’ve never seen a fight finish so quickly. The bow at the start took longer than the fight and I’m amazed the referee had time to get out of the way. If anyone has ever won a fight quicker, I’d like to see it.”
There is no official record but Russ, who timed his son’s fight at 1.5 seconds from bow to knockout, believes a new world benchmark may have been set.
Russ told The Gazette: “I’m certainly not aware of a faster knockout and I don’t see how it would be possible”
It also suggests Connor could take the national sparring scene by storm but his education comes first.
A former British technical champion, Connor also won gold at the World Mudo Championships in South Korea two years ago (as did his dad in the same competition) and is currently studying for his A levels. He has offers to study theoretical physics at university.
The Il Gi Taekwondo gold medalists from Blackpool included eight in sparring (two for Bailey and one for Rick Binns, Joe Jenkinson-Cross, Tom Knox, Adam Layland, Chris Rodden and Sriharry Sivakanthan), six in patterns (Tom Knox, Robert Mellor, James Newton, Jane Thomas, Caroline Walford, Rosie Walford), and one in step sparring for Adam Buzza and Joseph Jenkinson-Cross
Connor’s second gold triumph, though less spectacular was a highly emphatic 18-0 points victory.
The were also three silvers (Adam Buzza and Joe Kehoe in sparring, Jake Cox/Tom Knox in step sparring) and five bronzes (Debbie Chapman, Adam Leyland and Logan Thomas in patterns, Emily Mercer-Taylor in speed kicking and Robert Mellor / Emily Mercer-Taylor in step sparring.
For more information about the club visit www.ilgitaekwondo.org
Anyone wishing to try taekwondo at Blackpool, Palatine or Moor Park is welcome to a free introductory lesson if they bring a cut-out of the printed version of this story from the Gazette on Monday May 19,
See Connor’s amazing knocknout at www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUac1hi7v2U