The 2017 Pan Am Cadet and Junior Poomsae and Kyorugi Championships wrapped up with 9 GOLD, 15 SILVER and 17 BRONZE for Team Canada.
A total of 67 athletes and 22 coaches has produced promising results for the future of Taekwondo in Canada. Team Canada finished overall 2nd place in both Cadet Female and Male divisions. In Junior division, Team Canada finished 3rd in both Male and Female divisions, behind the Pan Am powerhouses USA and Mexico. Canadian Para athlete Anthony Cappello has his eyes on Tokyo 2020 by winning a silver in the K43 category.
“Our athletes, coaches, and staff encountered various conditions and external factors throughout the week and came up with notable results,” said Jamie Dossantos, Taekwondo Canada high performance staff. “Overall it was a great experience for the Cadets at a Pan Am event, the Juniors were tested on many elements at this tournament and coaches adapted well with poise.”
First-time national coach Kev Cheng was impressed by the overall performance and the team spirit. “Our athletes have trained hard to prepare for this championship. They can focus on mental toughness so they can endure multiple events and long hours at the venue,” said Cheng. “The competition atmosphere was amazing. Athletes are unified – cheering and supporting one another. The most memorable moments of the event are when teammates finished competing, everyone would rush to the front and congratulate the competitor.”
What’s the one thing our junior and cadet athletes needs to work on? Cheng provided his insights, “If these young athletes aimed to be selected for the national senior team one day, I would advise them to work on their strength training. Our athletes’ physical strengths came up short compared to countries like Mexico.”
Carrington Carroll, who finished on top of the podium in the Cadet F47 has trained hard for the medal. “I trained 6 days a week with my coach and teammates working on technical, strategy and strength. I added in yoga and extra cardio in my training as well. I am very proud and honored to represent my country.” What has Carrington learned from this experience? “Always listen to my coach, and believe in myself,” said Carrington.
Ethan McClymont, who represented Canada for the first time, competed in the Junior M-73kg division and brought home a precious gold. “When I won the gold I thought to myself, this a gold medal for my team, and all of Canada. The sense of pride and support from my country is part of what mentally fueled me, in the last two matches especially, to keep on fighting. No matter what the score was, or what time was on the clock,” said Ethan, “As I reflect on the tournament, lessons I’m reminded of are, always listen to your coach, and fight to the end no matter what.”
Team Canada Captain Josipa Kafadar dominated her division with great competitiveness. “I was honoured to be named Team Captain for Pan Ams. After winning gold, I was glad that I set an example of what everyone on the team should work towards. Winning gold at the event was a priceless moment for me because it was something I’ve been working towards all year,” said Josipa, “I tried training under conditions that would simulate the competition’s environment (elevation training).”
“I took every match one by one, not thinking too far ahead of the present. I stayed focused on what I had to do step by step, eventually leading up to a top podium finish.”
The most memorable moments according to the team captain? “Definitely the all-Canadian final match. Everyone joined in cheering them on, even including other countries such as Brazil and Mexico. Both competitors ran around the ring carrying the Canadian flag. Their sportsmanship was great.”
Michelle Lee, the bronze medalist at the 2016 World Poomsae Championships, competed in 4 Poomsae events at this year’s Pan Ams. She finished with a blast in her Individual Freestyle and Pair with partner Anton Carreon event, with two Silver medals, as well as a bronze medal in the team program. Michelle felt that she has changed her mindset towards competition. “My parents always remind me that even though I’m at the top now, I have to work twice as hard. This year I have trained much harder. I have changed my view on competition – when I competed at Worlds, I was just happy that I made it to the Worlds, instead of actually set my mind to the competition. This mindset has changed in the Pan Ams.”
Taekwondo Canada also wants to congratulate Master Jae Park for being named Best Coach in the Cadet Female Division and Master Tony Achkouti for being named the Best Male Referee at the event.
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