Taekwondo: Coming back in black

Verina Wihongi
Verina Wihongi
Balclutha black belt Verina Wihongi is on the comeback trail and has her sights firmly set on the Oceania taekwondo championships in December.

Her chances of reaching the event in New Caledonia look good - Wihongi (32) has won every New Zealand competition she has entered in the past four months.

Last weekend, she won the South Island championships in Dunedin.

In early June, she won the New Zealand Federation Open, after winning the New Zealand championships in May.

Wihongi competed at the 2004 Olympic Games, in Athens, where she finished ninth in the 67kg division after two hesitant performances.

She then took a break from the sport to concentrate on her two children and her job as a share milker, and said stepping on to the mat this time felt different.

"I've done the whole Athens thing, and can pretty much write the book on what not to do," she said.

Coming back, there was more competition, she said.

"They are much younger, too. The young ones in my division have come up."

Wihongi's division is the welterweight 57kg-67kg, but she fought at the New Zealand Open in Tauranga in the 73kg class.

There were not enough competitors in her weight division so she went up a class to try to get as many fights and as much mat time as she could, she said.

After the New Zealand trials on July 31, she plans to travel to the Australian Open in October, just for fun.

She is not ready to talk about her chances of competing at the next Olympic Games, in London in 2012.

"Beyond New Caledonia in December, I don't have a plan yet."


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