UoB Taekwondo Captain Fabian Burkhardt discusses his hopes and ambitions for the club this year with Sports Editor Kit Shepard
University of Birmingham’s taekwondo club improved substantially over the course of last season, highlighted by the 11 medals they won at the BTSF Spring Championships. However, club captain Fabian Burkhardt is hopeful for further progression.
“I have an ambitious goal for this year”, reveals Burkhardt, “I want to be above 75 [medals]”. This would blow last season’s total of 53 out of the water, but the captain believes this target is achievable.
“I came here one year ago and started building up a tournament squad”, states Burkhardt. The club, which has recently earned BUCS status, will have “a permanent performance squad” for the first time this year, allowing them to compete for more medals than in previous years.
Taekwondo, however, is a sport that welcomes players of all abilities. Burkhardt emphasises that “we cater for everyone” and that members can play “tournaments, [for] higher gradings, or just for fun”.
Newcomers can expect to improve their discipline and self-confidence, while learning “the martial art that develops the most”. Perhaps due to its short history (taekwondo did not originate until the 1940s), it has an impression of modernity, meaning fighters like Burkhardt are “constantly changing our techniques”.
Contrary to the popular stereotype of martial arts, taekwondo training will not leave you battered and bruised. “Some call us one of the weaker martial arts because we are softer in training, but I think that’s the fun about it. We can just come to training [and] do a martial art without hurting each other”.
Burkhardt competed at the European Universities Combat Championships last summer, and he is not the only member with international experience. Ismael Mekene Coulibaly, after featuring at the 2019 Taekwondo World Championships in Manchester and winning a gold medal at the Spanish open, has ambitions of representing Ivory Coast at next year’s Olympics. Everyone at the UoB club is “really hoping that he can qualify”.
Yet while Burkhardt is keen to win medals and to see Coulibaly at the Olympics, his biggest aim for taekwondo at UoB is far simpler: “It’s more about the fun”.