MURRAY — A group of Utahns joined martial artists from around the U.S. to compete in the first ever Mulympics held in South Korea this summer. Their effort earned them a special recognition from Utah’s Gov. Gary Herbert, as well as respect from the world’s best martial artists.
The competition featured four types of martial arts — Wu-shu (Kung Fu), Karate, Haidong Gumdo (Korean fencing), Tang Soo Do. The event attracted more than 5,000 athletes from 16 countries. Team USA sent athletes from Ohio, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Maryland and Utah. The International Mulympics Committee named Master Parnell as Team USA head coach.
Competitors converged on Yongpyong Dome in South Korea, even as threats from North Korea kept some away.
"I know of several athletes that simply would not go, due to the fear of North Korea becoming violent,” Parnell said. “But, I've been there 11 times in the past 13 years, North Korea is always rattling its saber, and nothing has happened yet. (I’m) not saying it won't, but I just felt confident with the news I had directly from Korea that we would be safe."
So Utah was represented by a very diverse squad: Oliver Winegar, Cottonwood Heights, Aaron Plante, Highland, James Peterson, Holladay, Corbin and Cayman Sanchez, and Master Marshall Parnell, Cottonwood Heights.
The competition’s philosophy is that while the best should excel and stand apart, all of the competitors who show their “courage and skill deserve recognition,” Parnell said. That meant that at each level, even in the preliminary rounds, there were awards to be earned.
The finals were made up of the top four in the world.
Plante Peterson and Caymen Sanchez each emerged from the preliminary rounds victorious. While none of them made it to the finals, they all played well, earning no less than fifth in their respective divisions.
Corbin Sanchez “won round after round, eliminating competitors from Kuwait, Canada, Germany, China and dozens of Koreans, all of whom were home town favorites,” Parnell said.
Corbin Sanchez earned a spot in the finals, while Parnell found success as a competitor and as a coach.
“In the previous six world championships no Master outside of Korea had made it to the finals,” Parnell said. “Back in 2002, I took silver in the finals, but it was in the black belt open division. This was the Masters. Men and women who have devoted there entire life to training.”
Both Corbin Sanchez and Parnell finished fourth in the world in their respective divisions.
“It’s definitely hard to describe my feelings,” Parnell said. “I think I did the best I could do, so I know my father and my Master would be proud. Because that's all they have ever asked of me, and taking fourth out of all the amazing competitors here is awesome; I beat a couple of masters that have beaten me several times before. But, yeah, I'm still disappointed; I don't train to take fourth."
Corbin Sanchez was thrilled with his podium finish.
“I felt very intense, and very happy,” Sanchez said, “and when I went home, I couldn't sleep and kept thinking "I did it, I did it, I did it!"
Parnell and his team train at Lotus Blossom Martial Arts inside the Sports Mall on 900 E. and 5445 South in Murray, Utah. www.lbsma.com.
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