Ashley Kraayeveld Leads Three Canadian Taekwondo Athletes into Top-10 on Final Day of World Champion
MANCHESTER, Eng.—Ashley Kraayeveld led a trio of Canadian taekwondo athletes into the top-10 with a solid fifth-place finish to cap off the 2019 World Championships in Manchester, England on Sunday.
The 27-year-old advanced into the quarter-final round in the women’s 62kg weight class by exploiting strong mental and physical fitness throughout each of her three bouts.
“These are the best results I’ve ever had a World Championships so I’m very happy and grateful,” said Kraayeveld. “We put a lot of hours of training into this and worked really hard. This is not an easy competition and I put all I had into every fight.”
Taking advantageof a bye in the opening set of matches, the Mississauga native topped Wai Ying Tsang, of Hong Kong, in the round of 32 with a score of 10-3. Kraayeveld, who won gold at the World Military Taekwondo Championships in November, faced a strong Mexican fighter, Anel Felix, in the round of 16. Trailing for the whole match, the determined Canadian remained aggressive and pulled out a last-second 18-17 victory to earn a spot in the quarters.
“I knew she wasn’t going to be easy. I just told myself to stick with the game plan for this one, make sure I don’t go back or be defensive. Even though I was down, I had to keep persevering,” said Kraayeveld, who lost to Maqda Wiet Henin of France in the round of eight.
“The result today is a really good confidence boost for me because it was such a hard competition. I feel I’m at a level to be able to qualify for the Olympics. I know my mistakes and what I need to fix going forward. I’ll take this opportunity to be better in future competitions.”
Two Canadian men also chalked up top-10 finishes. Jordan Stewart, of Vaughan, Ont., battled to ninth spot in the men’s 87kg class. Quebec City’s Marc-Andre Bergeron matched this result in the men’s 87+kg division.
Stewart started off strong with an 11-6 victory over Kristmundur Gislason, of Iceland, in his round of 32. The experienced 22-year-old scrapper was in tough against a former World Championship bronze medallist from Azerbaijan, Ramin Azizov.
“I knew he was going to come out kicking right away. He started out strong out of the gate, coming right at me so I tried to use my strengths against him, my speed and my mind, but came up short in the last second,” said Stewart. “Any win or loss makes you want to get back to the gym and start training harder. That is what I’m going to do.”
Looking like the match was going to go into extra time, Azizov landed a head kick with 10 seconds left to grab three points. Stewart battled until there was no time left on the clock, and got the score to 14-13 but ran out of time.
Marc-Andre Bergeron carried Canada’s hopes into the ring in the men’s 87+kg category. The experienced Quebecer squeaked out an extra time 13-13 victory where he landed more punches than his opponent, Emre Kutalmis from Turkey, in his opening match.
“It was a good day today. I started well against Turkey. I knew what kind of match it was going to be. It was tough physically, and I finished with a good win in sudden death, so I’m very proud of what I did,” said Bergeron.
The Canadian heavyweight had his hands full in the round of 16 where he was matched up against hometown favourite, Mahama Cho, from Great Britain.
The Manchester Arena was rocking, cheering a powerful and shifty Cho onto a 17-5 victory over Bergeron.
“He plays tough physically. He is strong and quick. I’m taller so I tried to manage the distance between us. I wasn’t able to do so in the first two rounds and he took advantage of this,” added Bergeron. “A lot of things came out of this match that I can take back home with me and work to hopefully be better for the Grand Prix next month in Rome.
“I have to be happy with ninth at World Championships. Everybody wants to be on the podium, and I’m the same, but overall I have to be happy with my result.”
Taekwondo Canada suited up 16 athletes from across the country for the five-day affair. While Winnipeg’s Skylar Park stole the show with her first career World Championship bronze medal at the senior level, the Canadian squad leaves Manchester with their heads held high after posting multiple top-10 and personal best finishes.
Complete details on the 2019 World Taekwondo Championships can be found at http://www.worldtaekwondo.org/competition/world-taekwondo-championships/championships-2019/information/
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.