Marshall Islands taekwondo competitor Jason Sam won the gold medal at the the 2013 Pacific Mini Games held earlier this month, benefitting from world-class taekwondo training at the National Taiwan Sport University (NTSU). Jason credits his NTSU training with his outstanding Pacific Mini Games performance.
According to a report by the Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee  on its Facebook Page , the chance to compete with top athletes having different training backgrounds (the National Taekwondo Team from the country of Jordan was also training at NTSU) and fighting styles helped diffuse the Jason’s nerves going into competition.
“Jason’s first fight was against Tonga. The referee was tough and Jason’s aggressiveness resulted in three points to Tonga from warnings issued to Jason rather than from contact made. As Jason forced himself to relax, the fight became progressively more exciting, drawing spectators and filling the stands. In the third round, with only 30 seconds left on the clock, the score was tied at 9-9. A head kick by Tonga would have won the match, but Jason made the last two points for a final score of 11-9.
After the first round, Jason felt strong, confident and more relaxed for his next fight against Alik Delly of Solomon Islands, who was also Jason’s roommate in the Games Village. Due to Jason’s elite training and preparation, he was familiar with Delly’s fighting style and handily won the match with a score of 4-0.
Jason’s final match, for the gold, was against Pinnie Rainner, a strong fighter from Papua New Guinea who had just defeated Tahiti in the semi-final. Jason knew he had to step up his game and started strong with a head kick in the first three seconds of the round. The move was so quick, it was missed by several of the judges; but after a protest, the three points were awarded. Jason found this match to be the most challenging and exhilarating. The arena was packed with cheering fans, and he felt great support from the excited and vocal spectators. The intensity of the fight, with the gold medal on the line, was certainly felt when Jason was awarded a penalty point. Jason sustained several minor injuries,including his toe, which remains numb, during the final round. Rainner was a worthy opponent with a lot of stamina who kept coming back after each hit. Jason’s technical training, physical conditioning and two head kicks during the final round, won the match, with a final score of 13-9, and secured the gold medal for the Marshall Islands.”
At the PMG award ceremony, Jason was named the Outstanding Male Taekwondo Athlete of the tournament.
- Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee