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Martons lead taekwondo team to seven medals

16 July 2015

PACIFIC GAMES: Australia has come away with four gold and three silver medals in the women’s taekwondo at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

All seven of Australia’s competitors claimed a medal, with siblings Carmen and Caroline Marton, Keshena Waterford and Nicole Men all scoring victories in their divisions.

Deanna Kyrziapoulos, Tassya Stevens and Catherine Risbey won silver for Australia.

The Games is an important tournament in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympics, with a division win worth forty world ranking points.

It was a dominant display by London 2012 Olympian Carmen Marton in the -62kg division.

The 29-year-old won gold over New Zealand’s Rhiannon O’Neill, 13-0.

The Sydneysider said the first match had been tough because she had never fought French Polynesia’s Horue Taufa.

“It was a really tough day. There were some new competitors I hadn’t seen before come in with a really new fighting style.

“I hadn’t fought the French Polyensian girl before so my timing and distance were a little bit out.

“The second fight I was a lot more relaxed and could focus on my game plan because I had faced the New Zealand competitor before.”

She said the crowd's enthusiasm gave her a lift. 

“I’ve enjoyed fighting today it’s been a really good challenge. The atmosphere has been fantastic and the cheering has made it a really good environment.

“I’ve enjoyed my time, it was really tough and I’m happy to come away with the win.”

Marton also said it was great to watch older sister Caroline claim gold.

“I always get so nervous when I watch any of my siblings compete. With each round I was more and more confident she could come away with the win,” she said.

For Caroline, the event is important for her dream of making her Olympic debut.

“It was hard because the pressure was there to do well given that it’s an important competition for olympic qualification,” she said.

“I was very nervous in my first fight. In my second fight I felt like I found my legs but it got me really motivated to push myself and put on a good performance.

“I just really had to get in the right head space to give it my all and to find those points and get the scores to win.”

The 31-year-old said the Team were confident heading in and proud of the results they had achieved.

“It’s pretty awesome. We all have put in a lot of hard work, everyone in the team has invested a lot in themselves to take it to the next level. So to come to an event here and do well is testament to all the hard work we’ve put in.”

She said Carmen was fantastic to watch in action.

“She was pretty impressive. I’m lucky enough to have her as training partner and she kicks my butt all the time."

For the Melburnian, now living in Sydney, the competition is a stepping stone to more overseas competitions.

“I’m confident. I just want to build on what I achieved in the gold medal match. A lot of us are going to the Korean Open next week, which is an incredibly tough event. I just want to do well on the world stage.”

Joining the Martons in Korea will be Waterford.

The ACT athlete also claimed gold in Thursday’s competition, with a win over home crowd favourite, Papua New Guinea’s Rahab Loi.

She said it’s great to claim the world ranking points, with an eye towards the Olympics.

“This is all for the Olympic rankings so it’s a relief to know those 40 Olympic points are mine now.

“It’s pretty tough, we’ve got a few senior people like Carmen and Caroline- the senior girls who have been around for a while looking towards it. I’m aiming for it - but Tokyo is the big real aim.”

Waterford said it was great to competing at the Pacific Games.

“This is the biggest win I’ve ever had. Making the quarter finals of the Australia Open was also big - but this is huge.”

Asked about the delay between points while an appeal was made, she said she wasn’t ruffled.

“Last week we did a big seminar on how to mentally control those things so I was feeling pretty good. We’ve been practicing it so I was in a good space and it was easy to stay in that space.”

For 16-year-old Kyrziapoulos the event was her second in the Team having also competed at the recent World Championships.

“It’s an honour to be here and be the youngest on the team,” she said.

“I’ve sacrificed a lot of things, school and friends, but it’s worth it - you have to work for it. Plus I’m coming away with silver.”

The Sydneysider faced New Zealand’s Angela Kilday in a tough final, with the Kiwi’s experience just showing through at the end to claim the win.

Kyrziapoulos’s coach - and Team Head Coach - Ali Khalil said she’d exceeded expectations.

“Being so young, she’s done a great job. It’s exciting to see her get a medal.”

Khalil said the men’s competition on Friday will also be tough.

“I have no expectations. Rather than results I’m focusing on performing the way we train.”

Khalil’s brother, London Olympian Safwan Khalil, headlines a strong Australian men’s team of 6 athletes, which also includes the youngest Marton sibling, 23-year-old Jack.

The event will be Australia’s last of the 2015 Pacific Games, with the Closing Ceremony on Saturday night.

Annie Kearney

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