AJ Assadian Wins First Ever Pan American Games Bronze Medal for Canada in Taekwondo Poomsae
LIMA, Peru—AJ Assadian etched his name in the history books as the first Canadian ever to reach the Pan American Games podium in taekwondo’s poomsae discipline after winning the bronze medal on Saturday morning in Lima, Peru.
“This is a big honour for me. I’ve dreamt about this day for a long time and I’m so happy I was able to get on the podium today,” said Assadian.
The Torontonian snagged Team Canada’s second medal on the opening day of official competition at the third largest international multi-sport Games where poomsae taekwondo is making its Pan American Games debut.
Heading into the ring with the confidence of a wily veteran, the 19-year-old delivered a stellar performance of hand and leg techniques that created a combination of defensive and offensive moves to earn him a score of 7.390.
“There was a lot of pressure on me today being the first poomsae athlete ever for Canada to compete at the Pan Am Games,” added Assadian, who attends Ryerson University in Toronto. “I didn’t do anything special or different today. I went about my preparation and performed the same as I always do. I’m just really happy I was able to perform.”
American Alex Lee won the gold medal with a score of 7.660. Peru’s Hugo Del Castillo thrilled the hometown crowd with the silver medal after racking up a score of 7.490. Mexico’s Marco Arroyo shared the bronze-medal step of the podium with Canada’s Assadian.
“I hope this performance sparks some more attention and participation in poomsae taekwondo,” said Assadian. “It has been awesome to have our sport included in the Pan Am Games. It has been an amazing experience.”
Calgary’s Valerie Ho was the lone Canadian the women’s individual poomsae competition. Ho finished in sixth place with a score of 7.010.
Mexico’s Paula Fregosa won the women’s gold medal with a tally of 7.660. Peru’s Marcela Castillo was second at 7.530. Karyn Real of the United States shared the bronze medal step on the podium with Ecuador’s Claudia Cardenas. Real scored 7.510, while Cardenas was 7.210.
Yvette Yong and Miguel Diaz Drop Kyorugi Matches
Canada’s Yvette Yong and Miguel Diaz both dropped their opening matches at the 2019 Pan American Games.
After gaining an opening-round bye given her number-one ranking in the women’s under-49kg category, Toronto’s Yong was topped 20-7 to Cuba’s Yania Aguirre in the quarter-finals.
Miguel Diaz also had a rough outing in the men’s under 58kg category. Competing in his first match in the quarter-finals, the Torontonian lost by point gap, 29-9, to David Kim of the United States.
A complete schedule and results can be tracked at https://www.lima2019.pe/en/results
Taekwondo Canada is one of five nations who will send a full team. The Canadian team is made up of four women and four men for a variety of Kyorugi Olympic weight divisions. Five additional athletes will team up for Canada in the Poomsae freestyle events, which will make their Pan American Games debut in Lima.
Lima 2019 runs from July 26 to August 11. The Games bring together approximately 6,700 athletes from 41 nations of the Americas and feature 62 disciplines in 39 sports. It is the largest sporting event ever held in Peru. Canadians will be able to experience the excitement of the Lima 2019 Pan American Games through a full-day integrated feed featuring a variety of sports via daily live stream on the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca and via the CBC Sports app. The live stream feed, which is available exclusively within Canada via CBC Sports in partnership with host broadcaster MediaPro. A schedule of the featured events will be posted on the @CBCOlympics social media channels once available, subject to change.
Taekwondo Canada is the National Sport Governing Body for Taekwondo in Canada. We are recognized by World Taekwondo, Pan American Taekwondo Union, and are members of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Taekwondo Canada is supported by Sport Canada. Taekwondo Canada sends national teams to the Olympic Games, World Taekwondo Championships, Pan Am Taekwondo Championships, Pan Am Games, World Taekwondo Junior Championships, Poomsae World Championships, Pan Am Poomsae Championships, and is also targeting the 2020 Paralympic Games.