• By: Grace Tan

Canadian Taekwondo Teams Headed Down Under

On March 4th, four Ottawa black-belt athletes from Lu’s Taekwondo school will take to the skies, en route to the inaugural Chan-Hun International Taewkondo Federation (CHITF) World Championships. Joining them on the flight are athletes from Iqaluit: both teams will fly to Vancouver, where they will meet the rest of the Canadian team members.

From there, it’s off to Melbourne for two and a half days of competitions against the best Taewkondo teams in the world. On March 9th and 10th, the Canadian athletes will compete against teams from over twenty different countries in both solo and team categories, sparring and pattern alike.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for members to demonstrate their skills on a world stage and see how we fit in with the global community of Taewkondo” says Pat McDermott, president of Iqaluit Taewkondo Society.

While they were in Ottawa, both the Iqaluit and Ottawa team members received a full training session from Grand Master Phap Lu, who helped them work on what they needed in preparation for the Championships in Australia. Lu has studied Taewkondo for over 35 years. He has also coached many Canadian teams, leading them to victory after victory in Taewkondo Tournaments around the world.

“The concentration was on refining techniques in both sparring and patterns,” said McDermott. “[He] talked about the psychological element of competing in an event like this.”

The Championships include a separate division for senior black belts, as well as a division for competitors with special needs. The latter was a hot topic at the leaders’ meeting at Ottawa’s General Choi Tournament last year. “It’s a great way to promote inclusiveness and give as many people as possible a chance to compete” says McDermott.

McDermott knows the Iqaluit Taewkondo Society has an excellent chance of being on the podium in Australia, but that isn’t the main goal for him and his team.

“I don’t want to put any undue pressure on anyone to go out and win. The primary thing for us is to see how our skills match up with the world. It’s all about improving and stacking ourselves up versus the best from around the globe,” he says.

More important than international competition is the fact that the Iqaluit Society will make up the largest portion of the Canadian delegation. Eight of the 42 elite members are represented by Nunavut residents; in contrast, Ottawa has four members represented on the 2019 Canadian National Taekwondo Team.

“That’s significance in and of itself,” McDermott says. “You don’t normally see athletes from the Arctic represent Canada, but it’s a reflection of living here. There are so many great opportunities for athletes to be able to compete at a higher level, and I think [Iqaluit Taekwondo Society] reflects that ability to give these members the chance to take part in something like this.”

The team’s last training session was this Sunday, and now it’s less than two short weeks until the Canadian Taekwondo Team sets foot in Australia for the first-ever Chan-Hun International Taewkondo Federation World Championships.