Martial arts: Fighters survive bad start to sweep golds

New Zealand's taekwondo team won every Olympic division senior gold medal at the WTF-Oceania Championships in Auckland.

The Australians completely underestimated the standard of the competition and sent only a C team plus there were disappointingly few senior women entries. But it was a stunning performance by the senior New Zealand men with the strong Tongan and New Caledonian teams, in particular, providing good-quality opposition.

With entries for the next Olympics going through the Oceania region and with each country allowed only two entries in the four Olympic weight divisions, the chances of a full complement of four taekwondo fighters at the Olympics for the first time must now be high.

The New Zealand men got off to the worst possible start when one of the top-ranked middleweights, Danny Cartlidge, from Christchurch, suffered a likely fractured leg after a sickening shin clash, while ahead 1-0 early in the second round of his match against Papua New Guinea's Gabby Yura.

But New Zealand's other middleweight, Steve Rickard, beat Tongan Sitapa Namoa in the final 3-1.

Wellington competitor Malcolm Tester beat Australian Allan Bernal in the final after leading 2-1 after the first round and scoring with a turning kick in the third to take the gold.

New Zealand's Sanjesh Singh won the bronze medal match over Matekuolava. New Zealand lightweight Logan Campbell rallied from 3-0 down in the final round to beat Australia's Graham Hartnett, scoring twice in the last few seconds.

New Zealand's No 1-ranked heavyweight, Dafydd Sanders, beat Tongan Fita Taufatofua 2-0 in their semifinal to set up an all-New Zealand final against No 2-ranked Michael Marsh who beat Laurice Jacquet of New Caledonia 5-2.

After neither fighter could find an opening in the first two rounds, Sanders turned up the heat, throwing a combination after a feint to go up 1-0. He then scored a second point with a sharply taken turning kick.

Tonga's Taufatofua beat New Calendonia's Jacquet for bronze.

Heavyweight Hope Fairless from Auckland came from behind, scoring with a head shot to take the gold from New Caledonian Annie Odine, 3-2.

Her teammate and clubmate Kathy Bell injured her back and her foot and was off sorts against impressive New Caledonian Annie Odino, eventually losing 7-0 in the third round.

In the middleweight division Aucklander Robin Jong, who won her way through to the final after beating Australian Nikki Rodwell, defeated Wellington's Farah Robinson 7-3.

Andrea Kilday beat Australian Ann Tran in the finweight final. Lightweight Miwah Van beat fellow Aucklander Leanne Stoutley with only a first round point separating the pair.

And two teammates from last year's world championship team to Spain faced off in the women's middleweight division with Tauranga's Eleanor Currie beating Christchurch's Aroha Miller 5-3.

Four New Zealand juniors also won gold in the under-18 championships. They were junior female heavyweight Hayley Schofield from Wellington, and male finweight Malcolm Holmes, Auckland, middleweight Brock Neutze, Invercargill and heavyweight Corey Shaw, from Christchurch.

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