UCL Taekwondo Takeover Łódź

Łódź, Poland, played host to the 2022 European Universities Games, which saw 5000 students representing over 400 European universities from 40 countries compete in the bid to crown themselves as European University Champions. 7 of those students were from the UCL Taekwondo club: Isabelle Whitmore, Ema Kanlic, Janice Jin, Vasco Gong, Caitlin Lee, Grace Gambrill, and Marian Rachev.

Some standout performances from our UCL cohort included a 3rd place finish and bronze medal for Grace Gambrill in sparring, 5th and 9th place finishes in Poomsae for Janice Jin and Ema Kanlic respectively and another 9th place finish for Vasco Gong in Poomsae as well.

What was it like having such a large cohort of UCL Taekwondo students at the event? Did this help?

It was great to see such a large cohort from UCL Taekwondo compete in the European University Games. To be able to be together with so many from my team made the whole experience just that much better. We’re all close friends as well as teammates and always support and cheer each other on at every competition. Overall, it was a great experience and has made us even closer as a team. Coming back from Poland UCL Taekwondo are feeling more motivated and ready to get back into training.

How did the European University Games compare to previous competitions you have attended?

I'd say the standout difference is the level of competition at the EUG. Whether it be in sparring or in the Poomsae competition that I competed in, you had countries like Poland and Ukraine that brought in national team level athletes compared to some of us guys who just do taekwondo as a hobby in addition to our full-time degrees! It was also a really cool experience for all of us to see in-person the level that we all work for and aspire to be at one day

Vasco Gong

What was the selection process like leading up to the Games, and how important was your success at BUCS events throughout the year?

The selection process was based off BUCS results, so a strong and consistent performance at all of the BUCS competitions throughout the year was critical in order to secure a place for EUSA. I had prepared for each competition to the best of my ability, which allowed me to have confidence in my performance and also get into the competition mind-space and routines once I eventually got to Lodz. Throughout the entire preparation, my coaches Imad and Sajed, alongside the rest of the UCL taekwondo and TeamUCL staff gave unending support and motivated me to always show up and do my best.

What was your standout moment of the Games?

Though it's hard to pick just one moment, from making friends from across Europe, training with elite athletes from GB and exploring a new city abroad with my teammates, I think my standout moment was seeing my teammate and friend Grace fight her way to bronze. It was so special to see her victory (through her signature kick, no less) after training with her for the past few months and seeing her improvements manifest on the competition stage. 

Caitlin Lee

Did you manage to speak with other competitors from across Europe and did you manage to gain much insight about their University sport?

During the course of the three days, we managed to engage and become friends with the Turkish team, who were incredibly skilled in all events. Despite the language barrier, we found that the vast majority of the team came from sports universities that specialize in that sport specifically. It was interesting to see how their experience with the sport in university contrasted ours directly, as while we participated in a club, they put a lot more emphasis on it in their education. 

Grace Gambrill

Did you manage to get many ‘rest days’ and explore Lodz?

I definitely managed to get some rest days in Poland to build my energy for the competition and explore the city of Lodz. The delegation arrived on the 26th of June and my competition day was on the 30th of June. Between my arrival and fight day, I had plenty of time to do some light training, meet student-athletes from different European countries, support other UCL and BUCS competitors and of course do some sightseeing in Poland. We explored Lodz mainly in the evenings when we went out in the city to visit landmarks and try Polish cuisine. EUG has been a wonderful experience for me not only because of the time spent competing and training, but also because of the nice time I had outside the hall.

Marian Rachev

From all of us at TeamUCL, a huge well done to those who represented UCL at the European University Games. An amazing achievement and we're over the moon that you enjoyed your time competing abroad.

An example of the doors University Sport can open!