I recently caught up with Mike Pejic over a spot of lunch and we had a good old chat about many things. He was keen to update me on his most recent taekwondo exploits this time at the World Championships in Peru during late September 2016. He was clearly disappointed not to have come away with a gold medal in the over 65s poomsae having taken bronze last time around.
Mike just missed out by 0.04 in the patterns event in the final against Australian Barry Jordan having produced some of the best form of his career. In the quarter final he beat South Korean Kwang Park who had defeated the reigning European Champion Ho Lee Moon from France. In the semi final he produced his highest ever mark of 7.66 to defeat the Brazilian before taking on Jordan in the final. Mike explained that his semi final was the last to finish and he had to remain within the arena to await his final match. This meant that his fellow finalist had been able to recover and more importantly prepare both physically and mentally. Mike was really annoyed at this and despite protests he had to continue and he believes this cost him the gold loosing out by a small margin of 0.14.
Mike explained, “ The way the competition worked, with me at the end of the draw and different patterns for each round, meant that I didn’t then have chance to rehearse for the final. I am proud of winning a silver medal but I know I was only two minutes away from winning gold.”
Mike had first come across the sport back in the mid 1990s and over many years has mastered poomsae which is the non contact version of the art where competitors perform patterns, starting routines with a score of 10 and judges knock off points based on their stances, blocks, kicks and punches. He started entering competitions about 5 years ago and finished 10th in the Worlds back in 2013 the rest as they say is history.
Not resting on his laurels Mike was in Nottingham last week where he took gold in the over 65s British Championships. The gold was his 3rd on the bounce which shows how dominant he has become in the sport.
Mike continues to hold his taekwondo training sessions at Chesterton Community Centre. Monday has junior sessions between 5.30pm – 6.30pm followed by seniors until 7.30pm. Thursday has juniors from 5.30pm – 7pm with Friday for seniors from 5.15pm – 6.45pm. For full details contact Pej on 07967 830428 or on his website pejictaekwondo.com
Anyway enough of the sporting side of Mike what about his acting !!!! I know I was as surprised as anyone to find out he had recently played a cameo role in a local production called ‘ Beneath Still Water ’. A chance meeting with producer Steven Beattie resulted in Mike being offered the part and he then waited to hear what his part would be. Mike eventually got a script sent to him and he was totally gobsmacked to read that he had a proper acting part in the film which meant him learning lines and trying to learn how to act with no training or experience.
‘ Beneath Still Water ’ is based on the legend of Blakemere Pool which can be found high on the moors that surround Leek. Legend tells of a Mermaid living within the murky waters of the pool and that she has a habit of luring men into the water who are never seen again.
Mike spent many long hours learning his lines and getting into the role of the part. He told me he was a nervous wreck waiting to do his scene but amazingly he managed a near perfect take with hardly any re runs.
The film was premiered at Cineworld in Hanley on the 28th October 2016. If anyone is interested in watching the film or reading about the making of it you can go to the official website of Steven Beattie.
Obviously there was time to talk football and I know that football still plays a big part in Mike’s life. He still does media work and his weekly article in the Saturday Sentinel is always worth a read. Mike told me he was lucky to have played in the 70s and 80s with so many great players to admire. He wished that more young British players were emerging and would love a local Stoke lad to get a chance, just like he did and along with many more. That vision seems hardly likely the way that the game is now run. Foreign imports are taking the places of British talent and the Academy’s appear to be nothing more than status symbols for Premier League Clubs.
We had to mention the League Cup Final of 1972 and quite rightly so as it is still the only trophy that SCFC have ever won. I told Mike that we were planning some events next year to celebrate the 45th year since he and the other lads brought the cup home. He was surprised to know that 45 years had passed but was looking forward to getting involved.
We had the meeting at the New Victoria Theatre which was quite fitting as the next time you see Mike he could be on the stage !!