|By Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
Even though a Fort McCoy Reserve officer competes against athletes who
are often less than half his age, he didn’t let it stop him from winning
the Army and Armed Forces flyweight titles in the Taekwondo competition.
Capt. Punnarin Koy, a member of the 1st, 340th Training Support
Battalion (TSB) of the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, said he
continues competing because it makes him feel young.
Capt. Punnarin Koy (right), a
Fort McCoy Soldier, participates in the U.S. National
Championships for Taekwondo.
“You have to slow them down because they’re faster than you,” Koy,
44, said of his younger competitors. “The satisfaction is to walk
away win or lose and not get beat up by anybody.”
Koy finished the current round of competition by participating in
the CISM games (Conseil International du Sport Militaire or
International Military Sports Council) held in Rio de Janeiro. At
that competition, he faced the best military Taekwondo martial art
practitioners from throughout the world. Koy also had made the team
in 2010, when he was a reservist in Minnesota. At that time,
World-Class Athlete Program (WCAP) coach Sgt. 1st Class David
Bartlett said Koy, then 43, was the oldest athlete he recalled
competing at the CISM level.
Koy, who participates in the 58 kilo or 127.9 pound class, began his
improbable journey to the top of the sport when he began competing
at the intramural level as a student at the University of Minnesota.
Many of the top competitors begin when they’re as young as 5 or 6
years old and already have about 15 years of experience when they
are competing for spots, he said.
Many of the armed forces competitors are in the military’s WCAP,
which allows them to focus nearly full time on competing. Koy said
at Fort McCoy he still has to support the 181st’s mission, which is
to conduct mobilization training for Soldiers deploying to support
Operation New Dawn or Enduring Freedom.
Members of the 1st, 340th (TSB) and 181st, several Soldiers and the
Rumpel Fitness Center staff have been very supportive and helped him
prepare for the competition, he said.
Soldiers have provided workout partners to hold the equipment. Koy
said fitness center staff members let him store his training aids
and have opened up the gym to support his training routine. He tries
to get in about 10-12 hours a week to maintain the elite-level
status, and up to six hours a day in the weeks before the
“The fitness center staff went to great lengths to support my
training,” he said. “They did whatever I needed them to do.”
Koy’s workouts consist of sprinting and light jogs, practicing
kicking movements and foot work drills, and sparring with other
Soldiers. Taekwondo competition consists of using legs and feet and
closed fists, he said.
“I did as well as I expected I could given the resources and
training time available at Fort McCoy,” Koy said. “I wouldn’t have
done as well as I did without everyone’s support. I am satisfied
with what I could do to help Soldiers prepare to serve in Operation
New Dawn and Enduring Freedom while I was training for the event.”
For Koy, this likely is the end of the road for his competition on
the big stage for Taekwondo.
“I’m not completely closing the door,” he said. “I’ll be open to
coaching people, and I’ll see what it’s like the next time the
competition comes around.”
Koy, who is winding down his service at Fort McCoy, also has
assisted Fort McCoy athletes in other martial-arts competitions,
such as the extreme cage-fighting competition. He is on mobilization
orders and will return to Troop Program Unit (drilling reservist)
status in September. His civilian occupations include serving as a
financial advisor, and he also has his own Taekwondo school. One of
his students is 15 and made it to the U.S. team finals. She will be
competing for a spot on the national junior team in the near future,
“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” he said. “I’m returning to civilian
(Some information in this story is from the Installation
Management Command G-9 Family & Morale, Welfare and Recreation