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Jamaica's Females Complete Manila Sweep
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA'S combined martial arts teams completed a sweep of Manila on Saturday when the females defeated the Philippines' nationals 3-0, hours after their male counterparts scored a thrilling 2-1 victory over a select Pacific-Asia unit.
The female combined team, led by Sheckema Cunningham, with Tashauna Grannum and schoolgirl rookie Subrina Richards, outclassed the homesters to notch their fourth international victory in two years.
Cunningham led from the front, taking on Phan Tuyet Nga in the microweight bout. The 26-year-old Jamaican captain was far from her best after a gruelling season, but did well enough to find favour with the judges, handing her team a 1-0 lead.
The Filipino coach next sent out their lightweight, Nguyen Thanh Cuong, forcing Jamaica coach Jason McKay to call on 15-year-old Richards, who he had only hoped to use if necessary.
However, similar to rookie Adrian King who rose to the occasion for the male team hours earlier, newcomer Richards, a Convent of Mercy Academy student, showed maturity in dispatching her lightweight rival for a 2-0 lead.
This left Campion College's Grannum to complete the whitewash, and she left nothing to chance, taking Do Hoang Long to school and giving Jamaica a perfect score with maximum points.
"I didn't feel she tested me, really," she said afterwards. "Their team is stronger in the lighter weights, but their middleweight wasn't as good, as she was so short. It's a country of very small people so this is expected. They are stronger in the lighter divisions," she added.
McKay said he was proud of the girls, but noted that Cunningham faced the hardest test of the trio and needs to rest up after a long season.
Although happy with the victory, McKay said: "If they don't pick up their game they will lose in the Gold Cup in July against the world's top teams."
Cunningham was satisfied with the effort.
"We promised Jamaica a win and we got it. I feel okay about the match, although our coach was expecting more. I'm tired and need some rest," she said.