Kees Yorkton took three athletes to a training camp and tournament at the Mexican national taekwondo training centre at La Loma, in San Luis Potosi from Oct. 28-Nov. 3.
The Yorkton athletes were Matthew Bodnaryk, Autumn Ashcroft and Francis Bazin. Master Wayne Mitchell attended as their coach and said the young students got a lot out of the experience.
"The event was focused on 20-year-olds and under. There were over 2000 participants from North and South America," recalls Mitchell.
One of the seminars was jointly conducted by Italian Geremia Di Constanzo, six-time European Champion and Spain's Juan Antonio Ramos, two-time world champion. Their five- hour session was focussed on strategy and technical.
They were both quite an inspiration with a complimenting approach to instruction. The lessons learned will be of great benefit in the future for the participants, Mitchell says.
The competition was held on Monday and Tuesday. The results were well beyond expectations as all three Yorkton athletes came home with the gold medals in sparring. The closest game was Matthew's gold medal match that went to sudden- death overtime. It was an exciting match that had the crowd cheering and applauding.
Master Mitchell said the trip to Mexico was quite the experience for the three locals and they all found out just how big the sport is there, firsthand.
"Taekwondo in Mexico is the number two most popular sport behind soccer," he went on to explain. "Our athletes were surprised by the recognition they received along with the photo and autograph requests for which they were canvassed. Even the coach was signing autographs. It was an eye opener to them about how big the game of Taekwondo is in the world. It was also a great confidence builder for the three athletes future competitions.
Bodnaryk and Ashcroft have been invited back to La Loma for March or April. Many National Olympic teams go to La Loma for two months at this time.
The sacrifice would be great and they may only be able to attend part of the training. This would even be of a higher level than this past event. To be able to train with Olympians from all over the world would vault their abilities to a new level and be a dream opportunity come true.