The delegation from the Cayman Islands Taekwondo Academy poses after its triumphant showing in Honduras.

Members from the nascent Cayman Islands Taekwondo Academy experienced another thrilling accomplishment last month, when they starred in an international tournament in Honduras.

The academy, which has been competing for three years, sent a contingent of eight children and two adults to the XX Campeonato de Taekwondo Carosae 2017, an event held in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Competitors from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras all awaited the Cayman contingent, but few were able to outshine them. Cayman’s competitors finished with 14 gold medals, the second-highest total in the tournament, and also came home with three silvers and one bronze.

“We exceeded expectations,” said assistant coach Raga Krishtyan of the tournament. “Some of the competitors were very new, but they tried very hard. And there were some of us who were doing this for the second time. We were chosen to be the second-best team, and we were surprised.”

Krishtyan had three children competing in the tournament, and his daughter, Nesha Krishtyan, was one of the biggest success stories coming out of the event. Nesha won a gold medal in both sparring and forms, and she was named the most outstanding athlete of the competition.

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“My mom was screaming,” said 12-year-old Nesha of her family’s excitement. “It was super hard to do it under pressure with everybody watching you. We prepared for the competition for three months.

Krishtyan’s brothers Amnan and Ardra were also successful, coming home with two golds and a silver medal. Dylan Simpson also took home a pair of golds in sparring and forms. Victor Chicas, Glen Ebanks, Lex Ferrer and Angel Chavez each took home at least one gold medal for their efforts.

The two adult competitors, Victor Chavez and Leroy Rodriguez, also won gold.

“It was a little bit hard for us because the town is about three hours away from the airport,” said Raga Krishtyan of the journey to success. “We were using the bus. But the kids were very happy.”

Nesha, who said she began competing in taekwondo at age eight or nine, has seen the complete trajectory of the academy’s success. There were only 10 people at the academy when she began her training, but she said that number has pretty much doubled in the last three years.

The martial artists are preparing for their next competition in the Dominican Republic in March of next year, and they will compete for new belts here at home over the next few months.

For Nesha, who competes in the blue belt division, there’s always room for improvement.

“When they called out my name, I was so surprised that I was one of the people who had won it,” she said of her award. “There were a few mistakes I made in this competition so I’m trying to do better.”

That diligence is part of what made her so successful in her chosen discipline, and her father is just happy that she’s learning a skill that can nourish her soul for the rest of her life.

“The most important thing for me is for her to like it,” said Raga Krishtyan of his daughter. “But it turns out that she has very excellent flexibility and speed and determination. For me, it’s amazing.”

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