Feature

When you think of Martial Arts, I’m sure your mind immediately flashes to Old Kung-Fu movies from the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s.  Now try to reconcile that image with that of a slender 29-year old female Taekwondo fighter, with a noticeably impaired right arm. That female is Shauna-Kay Hines.

In medical terms, Shauna-Kay Hines is classified as a born amputee. From her elbow downwards, her arm tapers down to her wrist and has three noticeable small fingers. With such a classification, naturally throughout her life the conversation about prosthesis has come up but Shauna-Kay shares that she has never been interested.

“I got offers but I don’t need it, cause for me personally, I think it is hiding the true me. Prosthesis would eliminate me from doing stuff on my own, I don’t like to be dependent, I don’t like to be pitied”, she explained.

Growing up, there were unfortunate moments of being teased about her condition, but with the love and support of family, friends and teachers, Shauna-Kay excelled.  Despite her ‘disabilities’, she is determined to become one of the country’s best athletes; contrary to what other individuals see as a major hurdle.

Her passion for Taekwondo was completely unexpected and happened after she first stumbled into a career as a runner. As a fitness enthusiast, she enjoyed participating in some of the nation’s more popular 5K events. It was during one of these runs that she was spotted by a coach from the Jamaica Paralympic Association, Neville Sinclair. It took some coaxing but she finally agreed to train to become a distance running para –athlete.

“I was doing the distance but unfortunately, they didn’t have long distance in my impairment so it was a bit disappointing. I started to train for the 100 and 200 metres but I didn’t qualify for the Olympics for 2016 in Rio. Before Mr. Sinclair left for the Olympics he said “I’m going to try to put you in a different discipline” so he suggested Taekwondo”, she said.

As an arm-amputee, Taekwondo was not the first sport to come to Shauna-Kay’s mind as she doubted her strength and ability.  After persistent appeals to give the sport a try, she finally gave in and decided to go to a training session.

“I went and I met with the coach officially to train and he was like “kick me”. I kicked him with my right foot and he stumbled, he was like, ‘Oh my God!’ you’re so strong. Let’s start training”, said Shauna-Kay.

From there, she had two weeks to prepare for her first competition in Washington.

In 2016, she went to Washington in the United States for the US Open Taekwondo Championships and returned with a silver medal. “It’s not without some level of pride Shauna-Kay tells us. Her opponent in the finals, a black belt holder, beat her by just one point after only three weeks of training.

Shauna-Kay won two silver medals at the US Open in Las Vegas in 2017.  2019 will be a busy year for her; she will compete in the World Championship and Taekwondo Competitions.

Shauna-Kay recently won a bronze medal in Washington DC and is now on the journey for qualifying for the 2020 Para- Olympic in Tokyo, Japan.

In preparation for these competitions, Shauna-Kay has been receiving assistance from the Sports Development Foundation whose mission is to contribute to the development of our nation through sports. The SDF also provides assistance for sports facilities throughout the island and funding of development programmes of the national governing bodies for sports.

Shauna-Kay welcomes assistance from other interested parties. In fact, she is hopeful for increased support for all para-athletes. In the meantime her plan is to place Jamaica’s name on the map in Taekwondo, a discipline for which it is not widely known.