Hawke's Bay Taekwon Do competitors eye world championships in England

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For the very first time, the International Taekwon Do Federation, will have a Special Needs division at next year's world championships in England. A team of six young men will be making the trip to represent New Zealand.

All the competitors had to earn their spot on the team by placing at the at the Special Needs Taekwondo Champs held in Hawke's Bay.

"We actually see potential in them, we don't shut them in the corner and think they can't do it," explains lead instructor Ben Evans.

Four of the six competitors train with Evans at the Hawke's Bay International Taekwondo Federation four days a week.

Among them is black belt Johann Landkroon, who has Down Syndrome, earning his belt after seven years of studying and training.

He says that he is really looking forward to heading to England to take part in the World Championships.

Training in the ancient martial art has given the competitors a boost in confidence, "I like doing patterns, self defence, meeting new people and going to difference places," says competitor Tupuna Rangi.

Something that his fellow competitor Aidan Pellett agrees with "I reckon they're doing really good, they're awesome, they're a great bunch to work with."

Their division will see them judged on accuracy of movement patterns rather than physical combat.

"The progression of the students just blows me away how they can remember these moves," says Evans.

The trip doesn't come cheap, with a cost of around $10,000 per person, the team are working hard to raise the funds to get them to the four day competition next year in July.

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Hastings born rugby star fighting for his life

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Former Maori All Blacks and Super Rugby hooker John Akurangi is fighting for his life in an Italian hospital.

Akurangi, who played prop and hooker for the Blues (1996), Crusaders (1997) and Chiefs (1999), is undergoing an operation on his heart in Milan, with friend Billy Ngawini telling Fairfax media that the 45-year-old was suffering a torn aorta.

Originally from Hastings, he has been living in Italy coaching rugby since 2010 but the condition was only recently noticed when he was in Dubai playing Sevens rugby.

It was initially believed to be dehydration before the more serious problem was uncovered.

After his rugby career in New Zealand, Akurangi was a business consultant in Australia, where he played a bouncer on the hit show Underbelly.

He secured a coaching job in Milan in 2010.

Hawke's Bay's Zac Guilford speaks out


Former All Black Zac Guildford's rugby career has been embroiled in controversy, but now he wants one last chance at redemption and has given up liquor to get it.

'This is last chance saloon for me'

The former All Blacks winger is seeking redemption, hoping Fight for Life will be the first step in putting his troubled past, and reputation behind him.

"I got described as a human torpedo when I was drinking," the 26-year-old told Seven Sharp.

The Hawke's Bay man's battle with the bottle led to the end of his All Blacks career, and saw him listed as "troubled".

"I've talked about it to mates. At times, we've changed the word 'troubled' to misunderstood."

However, he was offered one final lifeline to play professionally when the New South Wales Waratahs gave him a contract for next year's Super Rugby competition.

"This is last chance saloon for me. If I stuff it up, it's game over."

A tough point in Guildford's young life was when his father passed away six years ago after suffering a heart attack while watching his son play for New Zealand at the under-21 world champs in Japan.

However, just a few months later Guildford was selected for the All Blacks.

It's either one beer or 24 beers and I need to learn not to drink"

But, the winger dealt with the pressure of wearing the black jersey by going on benders, most famously in the Cook Islands were he was discovered naked, covered in blood, and drunk.

The drinking problems, Guildford said, began in high school.

"We'd just drink till blackouts, till we were absolutely smashed and wake up and think what happened there.

"And then 1st XV parties carried on like that: you get a keg and just drink until you drop, sorta thing.

"Other people my age go through the same struggles but they're not in the spotlight."

He entered rehab, and said no one was to blame but himself.

"It's either one beer or 24 beers and I need to learn not to drink.

"It's not going to be easy, it's bloody hard... I know how hard it's going to be, but I don't want to live the life I've been living for the past six years because it has been pretty average."

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