Singapore Open Virtual Taekwondo Championships celebrates first edition. FCPR

The inaugural Singapore Open Virtual Taekwondo Championships was held on 8-9 June, with thrilling bouts contested at the Singapore Taekwondo Federation’s (STF) National Training Centre throughout the two-day event.

A total of 40 athletes participated in the Singapore Open, which is a key meet ahead of the very first edition of the World Virtual Taekwondo Championships.

16 years old Janelle Chin won the competiton of the Individual female (16-35 years old), 20 years old Justin Peh was the best in the Individual male (16-35 years old) category.

Brian Peh (left) and Justin Peh with their gold medals. FCPR
Brian Peh (left) and Justin Peh with their gold medals. FCPR

Forty-four year old Brian Peh was crowned champion in the Masters mixed (36 years old and above) category. Junior mixed (13-15 years old) category was dominated by 14 years old Ma Bowen.

Podium finishers of the Singapore Open could receive the opportunity to represent Singapore at the World Virtual Taekwondo Championships on home ground – they will be invited to join the STF’s Virtual Taekwondo National Development Squad for training. Selection trials for the world championships will be held closer to the event.

Singapore will once again play a role in the making of sporting history as host of the inaugural World Virtual Taekwondo Championships, which will be held on 16 and 17 November. Virtual taekwondo’s first appearance at an international competition also took place in Singapore – virtual taekwondo was one of the sports featured during the very first edition of the Olympic Esports Week here last year.

Forty-four year old Brian Peh in action. FCPR
Forty-four year old Brian Peh in action. FCPR

Tan Cheng Han, President of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation, said, that it was very heartening to see players across different ages and backgrounds come together to spar with one another. 

"We hope they have enjoyed the experience. Singapore was first introduced to virtual taekwondo when the first-ever Olympic Esports Week was held here last year and many of us got to watch our very own virtual taekwondo players compete in and win the Olympic Esports Series. 

"The very first World Taekwondo Virtual Championships will also be hosted in Singapore and this marks a significant milestone for the sport. The Singapore Taekwondo Federation is privileged to be entrusted with this event and we hope this will pave the way for Virtual Taekwondo to become part of the Olympic movement. 

"The STF is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Taekwondo movement in Singapore this year, and we look forward to welcoming athletes and officials from across the globe as the community gathers for the first edition of the World Taekwondo Virtual Championships," told Cheng Han.

Janelle Chia, winner of individual female category, sais, "While preparing for the Singapore Open, I was playing with my teammates a lot to really find out how they play and learn more about my own gameplay, and that helped me prepare for the competition. 

I knew this competition would open my eyes to more types of gameplay because different people have different styles, so I wanted to learn how to cater to different opponents’ gameplay. Overall it was a good experience; I really learnt how to adapt to different styles of gameplay and how to pace myself for each match. 

I hope more people can learn how enjoyable virtual taekwondo is; it’s quite new and that will bring new challenges but you’ll learn something new from it. Competing in the World Virtual Taekwondo Championships is a goal."

Fourteen year old Ma Bowen with his gold medal. FCPR
Fourteen year old Ma Bowen with his gold medal. FCPR

Justin Peh, winner of individual male category, told that he got tired in the second round, but took a breather and went for it in the third round. 

"My strategy was not to initiate the attack, but to defend well and lean back so that the opponent can’t kick your head. Virtual taekwondo is very safe, even for the elderly and those who have been injured before. I encourage them to come and try this sport as it is a non-contact sport, so it’s very friendly even for people with injury," he said.

Brian Peh, winner of mixed masters category, said, "Virtual taekwondo is a new sport to us and I hope I can inspire the younger ones to come and try this new sport. We need a lot of stamina, so I did fitness training and daily stretching to prepare for the Singapore Open. 

"I haven’t competed in the past 20 years and I decided to come back to competition this year. This is my first competition in 20 years and it was fun. I hope this sport can be introduced to schools so that more young people know about it. I believe youngsters will love the virtual reality element, and if we introduce virtual taekwondo to them and let them have a feel for it, it will be very popular with them."

Ma Bowen, winner of mixed junior category, told that he was a little bit scared and nervous. "I trained hard and my coach told me not to give up and my parents encouraged me to keep going and finally I did it. I'm satisfied with my results today and I feel I can do better. I want to challenge myself and see if I can participate in other international competitions," he added.