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Age is just a number for bronzed Hock at Ashgabat 2017

22 September 2017

ASHGABAT 2017: Ruth Hock has won Australia’s second Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) medal with bronze in the women’s -67kg taekwondo.

It is the first medal at a major international event for the 32-year-old since a six-year hiatus from competition.

After the World Championships in 2009, Hock gave up international fighting to open her own taekwondo gym in Adelaide and to start a family with her husband, Ben.

However, after the birth of her two daughters (Trinity, six, and Skyler, three) Hock knew her time in the ring wasn’t over and returned to the mats as her own coach in July 2016.

The eldest competitor in the Australian team had a blistering first match in the quarter-final at Ashgabat, defeating Bhutan’s Sonam Yangtsho by Point Gap 29-2.

The South Australian then came up against Yann-Yeu Chen from Chinese Taipei in the semi-final in what was a very close and low scoring match, going down 9-2 to the eventual silver medallist.

“Of course I am happy to have medaled,” Hock said.

“I’m probably double the age of some of my competitors today, and because so many people say there is an issue with the big age gap I am just trying to prove them wrong, and I am slowly getting there.”

While she is happy to have medaled and proud to be climbing back up the taekwondo ranks, she is still learning to adapt to the “new game” of Taekwondo that involves the electronic scoring systems introduced after she finished competing in 2010.

“I came here to get a medal, I just had the idea of a different colour,” she said.

“I stuck to the game plan, so I’m happy about that, but I feel like I could have given a little more at the end and I opened up two opportunities which Chen took advantage of.

“I’m getting better every fight, but I just need more exposure to this new game. It’s been around for a little bit but it’s obviously new for me and my body is used to fighting a different style. It is a lot of focus for me to try and adapt and that takes time and more experience.”

Australian taekwondo coach Shane Whiteway has seen the game change and is pleased with how Ruth is learning to adapt.

“In the first fight Ruth came up against a more inexperienced opponent and used a variation of techniques to Win by Point Gap, so that was a good warm up fight to get the nerves out,” he said.

“In the semi-finals she fought well and stuck to the tactics that we wanted, but she was let down by giving the girl opportunities to score, and at this high level those strong countries will take them from her.

“Overall it was a good learning experience because she listened to the game plan, stuck to her guns and that determination showed in her performance. I look forward to seeing more good things from her.”

Hock will return home for Turkmenistan to her family and gym in Adelaide and put her coaching hat on for Nationals in October before deciding on her next major competition.

Australia’s taekwondo competition has now wrapped up at Ashgabat 2017.

Friday will see Jocelyn Francken compete in the 69kg Group A Weightlifting competition.

Georgia Thompson

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Ruth Hock