Wednesday 29 October 2008

One on One Patterns Training with Master Jedut

It's our last day and Master Jedut kindly offered to give Mark and Jeremy a one-on-one patterns training session. Unfortunately Mark had ripped his feet to pieces in training the night before and was hobbling around in no shape to be able to do patterns. This left Jeremy to perform with Master Jedut and Mark critiquing.

(It's a couple of months later and I just found I hadn't downloaded these photos from my camera... so here they are.)


Our last group training session in Poland – a very special one

Saving the best for last… tonight Master Loboda brought his students from Lublin and Mr Suska came as well to have a training session under Master Jedut and with the kiwis.

It was a huge privilege for us to have a training session with a group of students that included 8 past and present world champions.

At the end of the training session Master Jedut requested some demonstrations and we watched a group of 6 do Juche.

Then Mark and Mr Suska were asked to repeat the 2007 world champs final and perform Moon moo.

Lastly Mr Suska gave a demonstration of some high powered kicks. The only word I can think to describe this is "awesome power".

Here are some of the pictures….


Tuesday night training new students at a neighbouring village school

Tonight we went with Master Jedut about a 20 minute drive to a school where we counted 74 students were training! This is a new class and it was only their 4th session. Master Jedut trains them two times per week.

Tonight they made a bit of a fuss about the visiting New Zealanders with Mark and Jeremy doing some demonstration. Master Jedut encourages some of the kids to practice their English speech with us but they were a bit shy to do it in front of their friends.

Here are a few pictures…


Pick of the Photos

Since the World Cup finished I’ve spent many hours pouring over the many thousands of images that I took sorting them and picking out the ones that stand out to me as being “special”.

What I’ve finally selected is only about 3% of the images taken. With the sport of Taekwon-do being so fast and so much happening, it shows how many images that I need to take to get some good ones!

I hope that you enjoy them.

Pick of the New Zealand photos…

Pick of the International photos…

My Favourites…


Monday night training

Monday was a quiet day for us. Master Jedut had a busy schedule today so we planned to meet at the gym at 7.30pm for 7.45 training.

Tonight's training was conditioning focused. Mark commented that it was much like a conditioning training session that we would do back in NZ.

Mark and Jem had got the gist of the warm up game of tag which goes on for about 20 minutes prior to 15 minutes of more structured warm up exercises.

The training programme went through until just after 9pm and looked exhausting to me. Mark reckons that he and Jem did pretty well in comparison to the others who had the advantage of being more familiar and conditioned to the particular exercises.

Here's a summary of the training with captions...


Monday 27 October 2008

Sunday visit to ancient Kazimierz Dolny

Because the weather was so good, today Master Jedut took us to a famous and popular town called Kazimierz Dolny about a 50 minute drive on the other side of Lublin.

It is a village nestled next to a large river. The first records of the township date back to 1181 – over 800 years ago! Some of the ruins that we visited are about 500 years old.

We climbed to the castle ruins, tower and triple cross, high up above the village we were hungry by about 2pm having skipped breakfast and had a late lunch at Zielona Tawerna restaurant in the village.

During our visit here in Poland we have had and continue to have many discussions
with Master Jedut about Taekwon-do including training methods, preparation for tournaments, tournament history, many successful Taekwon-do students and many other topics. Mark commented that he found this knowledge and discussion as valuable as the training sessions and we all enjoy the discussions immensely.

Master Jedut has been extremely generous with his time and knowledge and for that we are very grateful.

Tomorrow he has a busy day so we will be on our own but will attend training in the evening. On Tuesday we are hoping to visit the remains of a German concentration camp at a village near here.

We hope you are all having an enjoyable Labour Weekend back in New Zealand.

Cheers for now

Pick of the World Cup training photos

I’ve now had time to go through many of the pictures taken over the last few weeks and here are my favourites from the images taken during training in Reva del Garda.

I hope you enjoy them…

Soon, I’ll post my favourite New Zealand images from the World Cup tournament…


Lazy day today (Saturday)

Master Jedut had an ITF meeting in Lublin today and we made the most of having no plans with a day of rest – including some extra sleep! And no training!

Late in the day Master Jedut picked us up and we went out for dinner to one of his favourite restaurants in Lublin. He warned us that the meals they served were huge and he was right!

After dinner he also took us to see the ancient area in Lublin, established in the 13th century. It reminded us of how short our NZ history is.

On the way back in the car we had a very interesting talk about what it was like in Poland during the war and afterwards under communist rule. This was very interesting and we really enjoyed learning first hand about what life in Poland was like. They were grim times indeed. We commented how we hadn’t directly seen any extreme hostility or adversity in our lifetimes and how luck we have been.

Poland goes out of daylight saving tonight so we get an extra hour in bed! This means that from tomorrow we’ll be 12 hours different to NZ time, so 8am in NZ will be 8pm here.

As promised, we took a picture of Master Judet and his Fiat Coupe.


Sunday 26 October 2008

Friday night training with Master Jedut

Tonight we walked to the village for training. It was about half an hour’s walk so we were a little warmed up when we arrived.

The training went from 7.15 – 9.15pm.

We started with a 20 minute game of tag Polish style. We got our arses handed to us in something as simple as tag. The tactics, speed and footwork displayed was amazing and it was often hard to follow what was going on. We were ‘in’ for long periods of time.

There was never enough time between the drills and exercises to stop and think about how tired we were. The whole class, from the warm up to the end of the session was intense and non-stop.

The footwork required for many of the exercises is complicated and it takes time to get your head around them. It is obvious why so many of Master Jedut’s students are past and present world champions.

We thought that they may have been going extra hard because we were there but we asked one of the students who drove us back to our motel and he said “No, that was normal – they are always hard.” How often do you train? “Every week-night, Monday to Friday.”

Mark and Jeremy liked it – despite being completely soaked with sweat and doboks saturated by the end of the training session.

It is a privilege to work with some of the top in the sport, showing us that we still have a lot to learn.

Mark and Jem

Saturday 25 October 2008

Day trip to neighbouring city of Lublin

This morning Master Jedut had work to do at the ITF office in neighbouring city Lublin. This is about a 20 minute drive away. He offered to drop us off in the city and pick us up when he had to leave to teach a class at another town.

Master Jedut travels about 50,000 km per year in his car. He is away a lot and mostly drives to the tournaments, meetings, seminars and tournaments in other European countries. They think little of driving long distances here. For example the Polish team will travel by bus to most tournaments. They had two buses (I think) for the trip for the World Cup in Reva del Garda. It took 24 hours on-the-road to get there and another 24 hours to get home again. While we have to travel long distances via plane, aircraft seats can recline and are much more comfortable than the bus seats. The roads here in Poland are quite rough and the bus seats don’t recline much if at all. So these trips are quite tough on the competitors. Also, unlike NZ, they tend to arrive the night before the tournament and leave the day after so it is quite exhausting.

When we visited the ITF headquarters I mentioned to their secretary who was showing us around that we might be tight for time as Master Jedut needed to leave by 3pm and it was already 10 past 3. “No problem. He is a fast driver” she said. Master Jedut likes driving. He has a black Fiat coupe that performs nicely and he likes driving it. I must try and get a photo for you. It has a v5 turbo engine and six speed manual box and a nice stereo. He is quite a fast driver but very good… he said that he’s never had an accident, even a small one. While driving he finds it relaxing. “It gives me time to think, when I don’t have to do anything”.

Lublin is a small city close to us here at Lubartow. We were dropped off at a mall near the main shopping street. The mall was like any that you would visit anywhere in the world. Full of fashion shops, a food quart, escalators and 3 levels plus a car park. Mark’s warmest jacket is like a track suit top and wasn’t warm enough so he was on the hunt for a jacket to keep him warm here plus be useful when we get back home.

So we traipsed around the mall then the main shopping street visiting international brand stores including Nike, Adidas, Rebok and others. Some stores were very expensive and others more like the prices we’d expect to pay in NZ. Considering that the average basic wage in Poland seems to be about 2,000 Zloty per month it must be hard for people here to afford such things. 1 Zloty = NZ$0.60c

After comparing a few stores, Mark bought a jacket from a store back in the mall and immediately changed into it from his tracksuit jacket.

Yesterday it was very cold here. The weather forecast was for 11 degrees but we reckon it must have been 4-6 or so with light rain at times. In the wind it was very cold. Today it was much warmer with the wether map on TV showing partly sunny with 12-13 degrees and that’s what it did. It was nice to get some sun after yesterday’s cold.

Our accommodation here is the roomiest that we have had all trip. We have an “arartment” in the model which means we have two large rooms for sleeping in and our own bathroom. No fridge or kitchen but the beer and coke that we bought from the supermarket last night is not too cold to drink in our room.

It is 4.45pm now and Mark and Jeremy are having a snooze while I write this. They’re pretty stuffed from the tournament plus last night’s training with Master Jedut was pretty full on and they have another training session at 7.15pm tonight. It is about a half hour walk to the gym from here. But that’s another story.

Cheers for now

Milano, Warsaw and now Lubartow Poland

The 4am Monday morning bus trip to Milan from Reva del Garda was awful. Virtually none of us had any sleep prior to the bus trip and I think I and Carolina were the only 100% sober ones after the World Cup “after party”.

By 10pm I’d finished publishing photos to the website and then decided I should really back them all up in case my laptop died or was stolen. I’m paranoid about backups so backed them up to a portable hard drive which goes in one case and data DVDs which go in another. That took until about 2am while the laptop worked away copying the 7,000+ photos I’d taken during the tournament. The number of photos sounds more impressive than it really is as sparring comsumes thousands as you hold the shutter down when you anticipate an interesting “strike” or move and the camera rattles off 5 images a second for short bursts. Only about 10% are keepers.
While this was going on I finished a novel I’d been reading… it was a thriller so the last quarter of the book was naturally the most exciting.

Then it was a matter of getting everyone to the bus in a car park 100 metres from the hotel by 4am. I think Carolina and I were the only 100% sober people and it was a little bit of a mission. But we made it.

Everyone else fell asleep on the 3½ hour (I think) bus trip – but I couldn’t. The driver was awful, accelerating and breaking a lot more than he needed to and jerking us in our seats while we tried to sleep.

Toni and Christine were left behind as they had different travel plans. Toni was on another bus which didn’t leave until 6.30am. More on Toni later…

We arrived at one of the Milan airports in plenty of time for Carolina, Paige, Deejay, Luke, Richard, Carl and Kane to catch their flight to Zurich and then on to Shanghai then Auckland. We spent probably an hour and a half with them having breakfast and filling in time until they left.

After that we headed into Milan by bus. This took ages – the airport was miles from the city. Thankfully we took a bus and not a taxi.

Milan appeared to be a pretty dirty concrete jungle of a city to us. We were staying in a cheap (ie old and grotty) hotel within a 10 minute walk from the central railway station. By the time we got there and the uncaring unhelpful reception let us have our room at 1pm we were not interested in playing tourists and flaked out on our beds until about 5pm. Actually, I’m being kind. The Hotel was a dump and wasn’t cheap by our standards either. We didn’t even shower because of a lack of hot water and a bath with a hand held shower head only!

We walked the streets looking for somewhere to eat returning to a classic basic Italian restaurant right next to the hotel. There we chose classic hand made Pizza and loved it.

Tuesday morning we were up reasonably early for breakfast and to check emails before catching a bus to another airport at Bergamo – just over an hour’s bus trip.

While clearing emails from their reception wifi we rang Jan on Skype and had our first phone catchup since before the tournament started. That was really nice.

She’d just returned Monday night from a long weekend in Dunedin and is trying to have a week off work holidaying at home… not quite as glamorous as what we’re up to.

We walked to the central station again and found a post office to post Luke’s room keys back to the hotel at Reva del Garda – he found them on his when he got to the airport! Anyway, as we got to our bus Toni yelled out “Hi Mark”! This was a surprise to see her as she was supposed to be in Ireland by now. She’d had an awful time and was returning to NZ. She’d arraived at Stanford Airport, London and they asked her lots of questions about what she’d be doing in Ireland. She was planning to stay with her best friend who is living there until about Christmas time. Finally they agreed to let her in but by this time she had missed her connection to Dublin. So the buggers sent her back to Milan. When she got back to Milan she got in touch with family back home and by this stage wasn’t feeling up for another shot at going to Standford then on to Dublin so her Mum had arranged tickets back to NZ from Milan. We felt gutted for her but it was nice to see her and offer some support. Had we been 30 seconds earlier or later we would not have seen each other – how’s that for coincidence.

We passed away a couple of hours at the airport waiting for our flight to Warsaw. We had cheap tickets on Wizz Air. By cheap I mean 5 euro for three seats plus baggage fees and taxes of about 100 Euro. (A Euro is about NZ$2.20).

The flight was uneventful but the passengers clapped when it landed – a bit of a tradition on the cheap European airlines I understand. It was a modern looking plane (like a 737) and seemed fine to me.

When we landed we expected it to be quite a bit colder. We all had jackets at the ready in our luggage but it was 16 degrees and quite comfortable. We changed some of our money at the airport into the local Swatti so we could taxi into town. The airport conversion rate was really bad so pleased we only changed a little.

Next – a mistake – while I’d intended to organise a Warsaw hotel booking on the web during the tournament after meeting up with Master Jedut I hadn’t got around to it and we decided to take pot luck. We asked the taxi driver to take us to a cheaper hotel in central Warsaw and we’re at the Metropol at 105 Euro per night. They couldn’t do a triple room so we took two rooms. Rats – expensive mistake! On the web I am sure we could have got it for half this price and will plan better for our return here in just over a week when we fly out. However, our rooms are very nice and so roomy after what we’ve been used to in London, Rome, Reva del Garda and Milan.

What we have seen of Warsaw so far is really impressive. The central city is modern and upbeat. There is a huge amount of billboard advertising and many buildings, eg most hotels with a single ad on them that completely covers one side of the building.
Monday night we walked a way and found a restaurant full of young people eating huge meals. It was great and we filled our bellies. Mark said “anything except pizza and pasta please” after having this every day for the last two weeks.

Overnight it was really hot in our rooms but cool outside. It was hard to fathom why – there is no visible air conditioning or heating but it was sweltering. If you opened the window – which we did – there was a ton of traffic noise as we are right next to a 3 lane each way main intersection. Maybe the temperatures here are going to be more comfortable that we expected – time will tell.

Tuesday morning we spent a bit of time exploring the central city before we checked out and met up with Master Jedut who flew in from Milan. He guided us to Lubartow via the train and kinkdly organised our accommodation here.
We had our first training under Master Jedut tonight… that will be the subject of another post.


Friday 24 October 2008

For all the NZ World Cup Results

The website team back in NZ have done a superb job of summarising the results from the 2008 World Cup.

Visit the ITFNZ World Cup 2008 site for details


Thursday 23 October 2008

1st training session with Master Jedut

It’s Thursday evening and Master Jedut has three classes to take. A class for 7-9 year old beginners goes from 5-6pm. The class is a bit of 20 pupils with mostly Mums watching from the front of the gym. There are a few new students today. New students come mostly from word of mouth amongst the community.

He keeps up a cracking pace with the youngsters for one hour. He keeps them very busy with changes in the exercises every couple of minutes so they have no time to get distracted. It is interesting to watch and to interpret how his training is preparing them for Taekwon-do movements, strength and flexibility.

At 6pm is a class consisting of young white and yellow belts plus a couple of teenage green belts. Again that runs for just over one hour and is quite intensive. I didn’t take any pictures of them – sorry.

At 7.15pm the senior class begins…

They start with a warm up game of soccer with a soft tennis ball and goals at each end of the gym. This gets the Kiwis teaming up with the others nicely. Mark knows
we’re in for a tough training so paces himself. Jeremy maybe not – he doesn’t know what’s coming next. Mark and Jeremy have promised to write about the training… as an observer I can’t do it justice. But for now they are asleep restoring energy for their second class tonight.

One problem we had was that we hadn’t had time to go to a supermarket and buy bottled water. Mark had warned us to play safe and not to drink from the taps as Carolina had got sick during a previous visit and thought it could have been from drinking the water. Anyway, by the time the training was over they were absolutely desperate for a drink.

One of his students who attended the World Cup, Mechin (spelling?), took us home last night via a chemist for my cold and the supermarket. At the supermarket and after paying for the goods they drank nearly a litre each. Even I was parched and I wasn’t even training!


Monday 20 October 2008

Final afternoon of competition

We didn’t pull any medals in the team sparring.

The junior girls only had three in the team, won two and drew one and had to forfeit.

The senior men one the first round and lost the second.

However we ended the competition with two grand champions – the highest individual medals for their category:

Don Leong and Sonja Robinson!!

And Carolina was first equal in her division which means that she didn’t receive an award but is a brilliant result!

The after party has begun and I’m the only party pooper so far so rushing to get this up for you before launching into it.

We catch a bus in the morning at 4am!! That’s FOUR AM – not looking forward to that one.

Photos from this morning

Photos from this afternoon (plus some to entertain you I hope)

Cheers for now - it's party time!

Day 4 of competition – morning update

We’re back at the hotel for lunch. The only events left are the team sparring which began about and hour prior to lunch and continue when we get back.

Firstly, correction from yesterday’s reports. I credited Don Leong with a Gold in sparring which was incorrect. He has won three medals; Specialty High Kick – Gold, Specialty Side Kick – Gold, Patterns – Gold.

In sparring this morning, Kane Baigent was first up and lost in a very large division which had to be split into two.

Courtney Meleisea won several rounds taking Bronze.

Melissa Timperley was beaten in her first round on the raised ring.

Kristie Leong won two rounds (I think) but was eliminated in the third.

Claire Kendal went through three rounds winning bronze.

Jeremy Hanna made the quarter final in a division of 53 and narrowly lost to a Slovenian who went on to win the Gold.

Here's a few pics to wet your appetite for the rest tonight...


Sunday 19 October 2008

Day 3 of competition – summary

Fortunately I woke up early Sunday morning and had a spare ¾ hour to write a fuller report on yesterday’s competition.

It was another pretty good day for the kiwis although we didn’t have a lot on in the afternoon. I didn’t give my notebook to anyone to make notes today so this update is coming from my somewhat dodgy memory so please excuse me and let me know if there are any inaccuracies.

Hanna Kendal – sparring – Gold
Hanna made it through what I think was 4 rounds to win her event.

Mark and Luke – pre-arranged sparring – Gold (they performed 4 times to great crowd adulation)
They had the honour of being asked to perform again for the opening ceremony so Luke has decided not to spar. The flips, and landing the last one on his back on the floor hammer his back – not that he ever complains!

Don Leong - specialty side kick - Gold (previous post mentioning win in sparring was incorrect)
Don Leong – specialty high kick – Gold
This was the event that Don really wanted to win and he was the only competitor to successfully complete the high kick going straight to gold. He was pleased he didn’t have another round as he niggled an old injury on landing it.

Hayden Anderson– sparring – Silver
Hayden fought strongly through a number of rounds loosing in the finals to take the Silver.

Medal hopeful for specialty, Carl, had bitter luck. Last night he cleared the high jump in the second and final round but was disallowed because he raised his hands and yelled out “Yes” on landing. It didn’t look like a fair call on video but I guess this is what happens in sport. In his other specialty, the high kick, he hit the board but it only flipped about 30 degrees, not quite hitting it hard enough to score what was needed. He was naturally very disappointed.

I watched Afi Meleisea’s first round and he went out hard out completely dominating his opponent. Unfortunately I didn’t see his second round but he said afterwards that he ran out of steam in the last minute.

Richard Lavin made it to round two in his sparring event.

Deejay Thompson took a sidekick in the ribs and dislodged his lower right one in his first round. He said this prevented him from being able to give it his best and he was beaten in round one.

With Deejay and Luke out it Sunday’s NZ senior men’s team sparring is looking unlikely to happen.

Michael Davis sparred really well in his junior micro-weight division. He showed real courage, determination and speed. These guys are really fast. He won his first round. In the second round (I think it was) he took a reverse turning kick to the head 9 seconds before the finish which floored him. The doctor said he couldn’t continue although he had got up and was keen too. Under the rules it was then decided on whos fault it was and the corner judges concurred that his competitor had done nothing wrong so Michael lost.

Our two young blackbelts Robert Meleisea and Mitchell Leon both did us proud with gritty performances. They competed in the same division, although fortunately not drawing each other. Both won their first rounds with their Dad’s proudly seconding them. Robert lost round two.

For Mitchell’s results we need to explain the sparring format for the world Cup.
There is only one 3 minute round probably to keep the momentum up to get through the large numbers of competitors. Some divisions can have up to 70 competitors. If it is a draw there is a further one minute round. If that is drawn it goes to sudden death with the first point wins rule with corner judges standing and, when the referee stops, they show the point they saw. Three judges need to agree to win.

Finals have the traditional 2 x 2 x two minute rounds that we’re used to.
Mitchell dew his second round, drew the extra 1 minute round, in the sudden death playoff the first call was even and the second call saw his opponent win.

Avikesh Prasad lost in his first round.

I’ve probably missed some competitors – if so, I’m sorry about that.

Oh, and if some of the pictures I selected and posted last night are out of focus and not optimised I’m sorry about that. With about 1,500 pictures to select from last night I didn’t have time to look at each one full screen, so I made the selections from large thumbnail sized ones where some out-of-focus images look ok. I’ll go through them again in the next few days and refine the selection. I think it’s more important to get them up fast for you though rather than perfect which I’m sure you agree.


Saturday photos update

Photos of Saturday morning’s NZ competition:

Photos of Mark and Luke’s Pre-arranged Sparring Win

Photos of Mark and Luke’s Opening Ceremony Demonstration

Photos of Saturday afternoon’s NZ competition

Photos of sparring, behind the scenes, people and the opening ceremony

Day 3 of competition – morning

We’re back at the hotel for lunch. Results so far today:

Hanna – sparring – Gold

Mark and Luke – pre-arranged sparring – Gold (they performed 4 times to great crowd adulation)
They have the honour of being asked to perform again tonight for the opening ceremony so Luke has decided not to spar.

Don Leong – specialty side kick – Gold (previously posted incorrectly that he had won sparring)

Don Leong – specialty high kick – Gold

Hayden – sparring – Silver

Medal hopeful for specialty, Carl, had bitter luck. Last night he cleared the high jump in the second and final round but was disallowed because he raised his hands and yelled out “Yes”. In the high kick, he hit the board but it didn’t quite flip right up so it scored 0.

Afi and Richard made it to round two in their sparring events.

DJ took a sidekick in the ribs and dislodged one.

Will update others tonight.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Day 2 of competition – plenty of NZ Gold!

We’ve just returned to our hotel after competition ended at just after 8pm. Some events, such as pre-arranged sparring (Mark and Luke), have been delayed until tomorrow.

Last night (after I left the venue) Phillipa Henry was awarded 3rd in patterns.

Today’s Gold Medals:

Melissa – patterns - Gold

Sonya – patterns - Gold

Jeremy – patterns - Gold

Carolina – patterns – Gold

Don – special technique side-kick – Gold

Sonya – sparring – Gold

Today’s other medals:

Mark Trotter – patterns – Silver

Carolina – sparring – Silver

Mera – sparring – Silver

Wayne Senior – sparring – Bronze

Mitchell got to last 5 in patterns

It has been a full on day full of excitement. Now… to get this wonderful news to you asap!

This morning’s photos below – yet to add a bit of polish when we get more time. This afternoon’s will come later tonight (Italy time) – say 9.30am NZ time.

This afternoon's pictures...

I'm off to bed!!
Cheers for now

PS: I tested my "dead" lens from yesterday and it worked today, only failing about half a dozen times so that was good news. An the the photography enquirer, my main lens is a Canon EF-S 18-55 f2.8 IS USM. Most of todays photos were taken with a Canon 85mm f1.8 prime lens.

Friday 17 October 2008

Day 1 of Competition

Today was weigh in day for everyone and all the kiwis got through without any problems. It was slow though and a fair bit of frustration as some ueued for over 3 hours to get weighed in.

It was siesta over lunch until the tournament kicked off at just after 3pm with
patterns and junior special technique events.

The kiwis fared well with the following results:

Helen Caley – Gold – Patterns

Don Leong – Gold – Patterns

Hannah Kendall –
Silver - Special Technique (high kick)
Bronze – Patterns

Mera Horton – Bronze – Patterns

Both Hayden Anderson and Robery Meleisea got through to the medal round (last 5) in patterns before being knocked out.

Tyrone Seely and Paige Moki got through to their third round of patterns.

Kristy Leong and Michael Davis got through to their second round of patterns.

We left for dinner at this stage as a couple of kiwis were still left to compete so will catch up on how they got on in the morning.

After playing up for the last couple of days and lots of testing the main lens I use for Taekwon-do died on me just as the event got under way. It’s an expensive high grade lens - Murphy’s law! So I only have a slow 70-300 telephoto (and it is too dark in the venue to use effectively) and a fast 85mm prime (non-zoom) lens to use for the tournament. Hense the photos aren’t up to our usual standard.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Thursday morning - weigh in is underway

It's all action - lots of competitors are down at the venue for the weigh in.

Wednesday morning training (& photo shoot)

With the Tournament starting to get underway under way tomorrow afternoon I wanted to give my gear a thorough test out after I noticed my main lens has developed a new fault where it seems to work for a while then drops dead without warning when I go  to take a shot.  This seems to happen when the temperature rises.  Would be a curse for events like specialty where I only get one chance at the shot and can’t back away far enough to use my alternative, a long lens.

Anyway, I thought this morning I’d better give all my gear a good thrashing and get some more some practice with my telephoto lens.

The sun was full on and the air crystal clear with the haze gone so far today.

After a while I kidded some of the guys to work with me to get some “creative” shots of them working out.  It was fun and we’ll let you judge the results.

During the day I changed my main lens over to my older camera and it seems to be working fine on it so that was good to figure out.

Today lots of other teams have arrived and the town scene this afternoon has changed from the predominant 60’s-70’s retired couple tourists to groups of young Taekwon-do people.

We thought that other teams would be joining us at Hotel Liberty but none have which is a shame because it has been a bit lonely with only 11 of us since last Friday.  Christine Young arrived this afternoon so we’re now 12.  In retrospect, if they weren’t putting other teams in our hotel it would have been good to have the other kiwis here too.  Steve Pellow’s group have about a 1k walk to the venue, whereas we have only about 100m.  Our hotel appears to be the closest.

It’s now 6 pm and our guys have headed out for a walk around the town… they’re really hungry, most doing a starve now until weigh in for juniors in the morning and seniors in the afternoon.  Wandering around takes their minds off their hunger.  Most of our group are within 0-0.5kg of their target weight so are pretty well prepared. The hotel have been doing well on the food front with only a handful of us turning up over the last few days for some of the meals. Three meals a day are part of the package.

However, they’re really looking forward to a major food blitz tomorrow night. The restaurant staff will find it pretty odd!

The ITFNZ officials have all arrived (Kris Herbison and Mark Banicevich yesterday and Darren Ward today).

The waiting is getting hard and we’re ready and keen to get it all underway.

Today's fun and games...

Wednesday 15 October 2008

The draw is out

This evening Jeremy Hanna saved the draws off the official website onto his laptop and people have been analysing their divisions.

Everyone here (our group) seems to be pretty happy with it.

Wednesday is pretty much all for the officials and coaches to be briefed and to prepare.

Juniors weigh in on Thursday morning and seniors in the afternoon.  There are some junior patterns on Thursday afternoon.

The real action starts on Friday with pretty much all individual patterns in the morning and specialty and pre-arranged in the afternoon.  Some significant sparring divisions featuring Mark Trotter in micro-weight and Carl van Roon in heavy-weight are also during the day.

Saturday features more sparring and Sunday finishes with sparring in the morning and team sparring following.

Not too long now and we’ll be into action!!


The weather and food in Reva Del Garda

I’ve been asked about the weather and food and both have been fantastic.

The recent weather has been, according to the locals, “unseasonally warm” and is expected to last into the weekend. We have had clear skies and no wind. The temperature has been I guess between 12 degrees overnight to 20 during the day.  In the village, when the sun goes behind the western mountains at about 4pm is starts cooling off quite quickly.  But mostly it has been a t shirt and shorts with the addition of a sweatshirt in the early morning.  It heats up from 11am until 3pm.  It has been great as we were expecting highs of only about 15-17 degrees.

The food has been fantastic…. Typically Italian and a challenge for those aiming to lose weight.  In our hotel (which is 4 star) we have the following meals provided:

Buffet breakfast – choice of cereals, fruit, scrambled egg, bacon, toast, pastries, tea and coffee. After the [pathetic] breakfasts we experienced in Rome, this was a relief.

Lunch – 4 set courses! Salad appetiser, pasta entrée, pasta and meat main, fresh fruit or ice cream desert.

Dinner – 3 courses.  Choice of 4 entrees, 4 mains and 4 deserts!  Tasty and more than all bar Luke are used to eating.

The sad thing is that our tables are bereft of people as almost all the team are watching their weight and skipping courses or meals.  They’re hanging out for feasting after the weigh in on Thursday.  Some have yet to loose more weight.  Most of the team are now within 0-2.5 kgs of their target weights. 


Day trip to Venice

See for details

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Hotel Oasis rooftop training

This morning we joined up with the rest of the kiwis for training on the rooftop of Hotel Oasis. The view to the lake and mountains was great and it was relatively cool plus there were no insects to buzz you. Also the floor is tiled and quite nice on the feet compared with the concrete of the basket ball court where we’ve trained on other mornings.

Having everyone training together was great and at one point everyone stopped to watch Luke and Mark practice their prearranged routine (minus the flips) to a loud applause.

Check out the photos…

This afternoon a few of us are going on a boat trip across the lake to another small town and tomorrow some of us are going on a bus trip to Venice for the day tomorrow. The local travel agent has arranged it especially for us. They normally only run in the high season. Leaves at 8am and returns 8pm so it will be a full on day.

Have posted photos of the Lemone trip and also of the Reva Del Garda township on Doug's Photography Blog.


Monday 13 October 2008

Sunday at Lake Garda

Yesterday evening a fair few more kiwis arrived. They've spread us around three hotels so far - the idea being to mix it up with the other teams.

This afternoon the team went down to the "beach" at the lake front for a swim. The water is swimmable but pretty cold. They've had the standard 2 x trainings today. I went along to thisafternoon's training which is in a gym about a 15-20 minute walk away.

Here are some of the photos...


Congratulations Mark and Carolina!

Mark Trotter and Carolina Dillen are engaged.

Mark spent weeks preparing and planning for this and popped the question in style at the Colosseum in Rome. He was greatly relieved when she said “Yes”!
Naturally they couldn’t wipe the grins off their faces for days – they’re just oozing “happy”.

We promised to keep “mum” until they had told their families.

If you’d like to send them a message, click on the comments link below this message and I’ll pass it on.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Watch my two blog sites

Just wanted to let you know that I'm now updating two blogger sites while in Italy:
This site - for coverage of the 2008 world cup
Doug Hanna's Photoblog - for personal photography stuff about the trip
So keep an eye out on both of them for the full story...

Saturday morning training at Lake Garda

On Saturday morning (Saturday night NZ time) the team went out to train. We have access to a gymn in the late afternoon each day but for our morning training we have to find somewhere like a park. We walked around the waterfront and eventually found a concrete basketball court.

Here are the pics…

Saturday 11 October 2008

Rome to Reverto by train then bus to Reva Del Garda

Today’s trip north to our home at Lake Garda for the next 10 days was very relaxing.
We caught the underground for 2 stops to the main train terminal and were on our train in plenty of time. We had first class tickets and it was really roomy and comfortable.

For me the highlight was the view of the countryside and rural life in Italy as we travelled north. We had spectacular views. The train wasn’t super fast – we figured it was doing about 120k judging our speed vs the traffic on the highways.
However five and a half hours started getting to the team and they were getting a bit cabin feverish towards the end.

I lost my 10 Euro bet with Mark that the bus to collect us would be late. As he expected, the driver was at the station ready to take us to Lake Garda. After our pre-arranged lift from the airport at Rome failed to turn up I was not expecting great things. However, I figured I’d win one way or another either way!

We didn’t know how long this part of the trip was going to take and were expecting an hour or two but were rapped when the driver said it was only about half an hour’s drive.

We got in there at about three o’clock and after settling into our rooms we split to check out the town.

I took a few photos of my wander around the town for everyone back home. It didn’t take long to start getting cool. Because we’re nestled in the mountains, the sun disappears pretty early in the afternoon and with the lake right by us you can feel the temperature dropping. However, it’s now five thirty and it is warm enough inside to still be in shorts and t shirts. Outside you’d need to be more warmly dressed after 4.30is I reckon.

Sussed out the anticipated internet access for our rooms. There isn’t any :-(

If you’re reading this I hopefully negotiated a better deal than the NZ$7/half hour internet access the Hotel charge for access to their wireless internet which has a range of the Hotel Lobby and not much more. We’re on the 3rd floor and no sign of any wireless here. Sigh. I can’t stand not being on-line with what I want to do during the lead up and the tournament. The internet doesn’t seem to have hit Italy much yet… either that or the tourists aren’t demanding it.
Enough winging about that…. And about time I got this finished and on-line.

PS. It is now after dinner. The best we can do is 30 Euro (about NZ$70) for 10 hours which won’t be enough for the duration by a long shot. I hope you appreciate the updates. I’ll put my virtual busking tin out for your donations :-)


Thursday 9 October 2008

Playing Tourists at Vatican City then more shopping

Everyone seemed to sleep well last night, so much so we were a little slow to rise with most of us making an appearance at about 8am.

Breakfast in Rome is very different to what we are used to. Typically it consists of a pastry and a tiny cup of strong coffee. The biggest latte I’ve been able to get (when asking for a very large one) is about the size of the average kiwi coffee cup. I’d kill for a latte in a bowl! So, forget the cereal and toast – it doesn’t exist. I looked in a small supermarket and the closest thing I could find to cereal looked like rice with fruit flakes. It wasn’t rice but some form of seed I guess. Those hungry go for a Panini or similar at a cafe for breakfast.

Next we took the underground to Vatican City. The underground is much more modern and better engineered than London or New York. I suspect Rome’s was built a lot later. The carriages are perfectly level with the platforms and they are really smooth to ride.

When we got to Vatican City we made our way into St Peter’s Square and a queue to get into the Basilica had formed and went right around the inside of the square. Again there are clear skies and the sun is harsh and hot. I'm trying not to complain because I know it is stormy back in NZ but man it is hot and gritty.

Fortunately the queue moved quite quickly and after ¾ of an hour or so we entered the Basilica. It was a visual shock to see such beauty inside a building after being outside in the harsh light and having spent yesterday looking at ruins.

Unfortunately they were preparing for a service and we could only mill around near the entrance before we felt we had to leave.

We left the square and queued to go to the Vatican Museum. The queued there for what seemed ages. It was a massive queue that would have stretched 400 metres long and 2-3 metres wide. We stalled for ages and Carl scouted ahead. We tried out the tiny radio telephones that I’d bought to use at the tournament which passed a bit of time. They seemed to work ok when the guys actually spoke English into them.

Jeremy and I decided we didn’t have the patience to spend another couple of hours in the queue and we decided that we’d just like to walk and check out some shops.
Apparently about 15 minutes after we bailed out the queue moved and they got into the Sistine Chapel... ce la vi.

Jem wanted to find the shop where I bought a present for Jan yesterday. He’d seen something there that he’d liked and hadn’t since found anything else. So, we had vague ideas where it was and set off. Found the subway and jumped off near the Spanish Steps. It must have taken us at least an hour of walking around to find the tiny shop we were after. We walked past it once without seeing it. We asked a policeman to show us where we were on our map... this was only about 10 metres from the shop! He could not show us on the map where we were... sheesh! Eventually we found it.

Fortunately Jem found something in the shop that he liked (oh and it is really awesome if you are reading this Kat). We might need another bag to fit it in though.

Back on the subway and back to our B&B by 3pm or so to chill out. Mark, Carolina, Richie, Jem and I chilled out for an hour and a half talking, looking at photos of the Honduras trip while the heat of the day passes.

The internet cafe is open again now and a few of the team have headed down there to check emails and send messages home. I guess we will soon too.

We must be near a hospital here because every 10 minutes or so an ambulance goes past with it’s siren on... I am so sick of sirens. Here they are just like leaving your horn on all the time with an additional wailing tone as well. On the other side of the square from us there have been preparations going on for some type of MTV rock concert. Hopefully it won’t be tonight.

Tomorrow morning we need to be up early, packed and off on the subway to the main train station for our 4 hour trip north to Rovereto. The high speed train leaves at 9am. We’re really looking forward to that... no walking and hopefully plenty of countryside to feast our eyes on!

Cheers for now

Wednesday 8 October 2008

From Rome, the long Colosseum Walk

Today we must have walked 10k. We left at about 8.30am and got back about 4.30pm after walking the central Rome sights of (in Italian from the map):
Circo Massimo
Foro Tralano
Fontana Trevi
And more

The ruins were amazing. Some 2,500 years old. It was good to get there early as wer were some of the first there and avoided queues and having too many people around.

Overall the street scenes are quite grungy. A big contrast to London. But I loved the atmosphere, the colours and textures and how old and worn everything is.
The streets are mostly cobbled with cut blue rock… the sort of cobbling that the rich in Auckland spend a fortune on for their expensive driveways… and yet it was everywhere here. It looked great where it was really worn.

It was incredibly hot and by the time we got back we were all pretty stuffed. Mostly from the endless walking + the heat + lack of food for most of the team who are trying to loose weight.

On the way back we did a bit of browsing in the street stalls and found a stall selling really nice fruit which tasted fantastic.

As I write this some of the team are downstairs practicing their patterns. After nearly an hour sitting here sorting photos and writing this I’ve finally cooled down to a comfortable level again.

Today I wore my only light T shirt and it definitely can’t be worn before a wash. What to wear tomorrow – now that’s a challenge.

Carl is the expert on the history and the sights and was great to have around today… especially as I know so little about ancient Roman history.

He’s planning on taking us to see the Vatican tomorrow. It’s miles away so might be a small challenge to get there.

Now to find an internet café to post this stuff up for you to see. We occasionally get a tiny teaser of access to an unsecured wireless network but it comes and goes (mostly it goes actually).