Martial arts fans of all ages punched and kicked their way into the history books in Coventry yesterday, with some added inspiration from Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones.
Despite torrential rain, 428 people aged from four to 70 took part in a successful attempt at the largest taekwondo display title – smashing the previous world record of 338 set in Hong Kong in February last year.
Enthusiasts of the Korean martial art from all over the UK descended on Coventry’s Broadgate centre for the attempt which raised funds for the charity Cancer Research.
The participants were put through their paces in a warm-up led by the 20-year-old Team GB athlete from Wales, who rose to fame following her victory at last year’s London Olympics.
Under the rules for the record, all participants are required to perform the same taekwondo routine simultaneously for ten minutes for a record to count.
Following an impressive display of synchronised moves during the required period, Guinness World Records adjudicator Kirsty Bennett announced that while five people had been disqualified, 428 participants had successfully helped set a new world record.
Speaking after the attempt to the Coventry Telegraph, Jade said: “This is amazing for the sport.
“A few years ago, not many people were participating in taekwondo.
“Now all these people are out in the rain. Beating the world record is fantastic for the sport in the UK.”
Equally delighted was Taekwondo UK Coventry instructor Stuart Pearson, who helped organise the national event in his home city.
“It’s a proud day for me” Stuart explained, “It’s been nine months of hard work and the weather hasn’t deterred anyone.
“I felt this sport in this region wasn’t being promoted enough. I also wanted to do something for charity as my dad Bruce had cancer.”
Also on hand to give encouragement prior to the attempt were Coventry Lord Mayor Gary Crookes, and local endurance athlete Paddy Doyle, a serial record-breaker from Balsall Common who currently holds 33 world records.