A local Taekwondo studio is hoping an upcoming competition will show what Grande Prairie is bringing to the sport. Twenty-one competitors from the Gladiators Martial Arts Academy and their instructor Luis Martinez are on their way to Australia for the Taekwondo World Championship next month. Martinez says this just goes to show the calibre of athletes coming out of the city.
“We are doing our best to show the community what we’re doing right now and having the chance to go and show the world what level we are at being from Grande Prairie. It’s just amazing because it’s not easy and it’s not often people from Grande Prairie are going to represent Canada on the world stage level.”
Those 21 athletes ranging in age from 11 to 59, will be competing against over 600 others from 28 different countries. Martinez was also chosen as one of two Team Canada coaches and says he’s excited that both he and his athletes will be representing Canada.
“As an instructor and as a coach I am feeling really proud because it’s not normal that they take from just one club, 21 competitors to represent the country. We’re not going just to represent the City of Grande Prairie or the province, we are also going to represent the country.”
In 2017, the academy sent 24 competitors to the Netherlands to compete for Team Canada. At that competition, 14 gold medals, 8 silver and 5 bronze made their way back to the city. 16-year-old Ashtyn Moran has been doing Taekwondo for 10 years and left that tournament with two silver medals. She says she’s excited to be competing out of country again.
“This is going to be my second out of country tournament. I went to the Netherlands in 2017 and I just can’t wait. Hopefully, the competition is really, really good. I feel like I’ll compare well with everybody else.”
Black belt Ian Stoby has been competing since he was seven. He brought home a gold medal from the Netherlands. This year he will be competing in a different category and says he’s ready to go.
“I’m feeling great. I’m in a bigger category this year, 16/17 and training super hard compared to last time. I’m older, stronger and just feeling better.”
The Taekwondo World Championships will be held in Melbourne, Australia on March 9th and 10th.