If you’ve been following the Iqaluit Taekwondo Society’s exploits in recent years, you will know that whenever they travel to events, good things usually happen in terms of medals.

Its next trip, though, is the biggest one the society will be embarking on and it’s a pretty big deal.

Eight members of the Iqaluit Taekwondo Society will be on their way to Melbourne, Australia next month to take part in the inaugural Chan Hun International Taewkondo Federation World Championships as part of Team Canada. They include, from left, coach Matthew Smallacombe, Nicholas McDermott, Jennifer Ellsworth, Daniella Calamayan, Catriona Popoff, Christopher Gerlach and Curtis Lu, who was in Iqaluit for a training session late last month. Missing from the photo are Alex McDermott and Eileen Duffy.
photo courtesy of Maryse Mahy

Eight of the society’s members will be taking off for Melbourne, Australia and the inaugural Chan Hun International Taekwondo Federation World Championships from March 8 to 10. They will be part of Team Canada’s delegation of 42 members.

Pat McDermott, the society’s president, said this will be a chance for the society to show off their wares in front of a global audience.

“We’ve done lots of training and we’ve had great support from Phap Lu, the federation’s president for a long time,” he said. “This is going to be a great opportunity for our members to demonstrate their skills on a world stage and see how we fit in with the global community of taekwondo.”

The group of eight from Iqaluit are some of the society’s senior members with most of them at a black belt level of some degree, McDermott added.

“Blue belts and up are eligible to compete and I wish we were able to send more but it’s a case of limited funds,” he said.

The tournament will feature athletes from 23 countries with events in both poomse (patterns) and sparring over the two and a half days of competition in both solo and team categories. There will also be separate divisions for senior black belts – fifth degree and above – along with a division for those with special needs.

McDermott said the special needs division was a big topic of conversation when it was discussed last June.

“We had a leaders meeting at the General Choi tournament (in Ottawa) and a lot of people felt it was a great way to promote inclusiveness and give as many people as possible to compete,” he said.

The society had a full training session late last month with Curtis Lu, who made the trip to Iqaluit from Ottawa, to go over some team training and work on what they needed to in advance of Australia.

“The concentration was on refining techniques in both sparring and patterns,” said McDermott. “Curtis talked about the psychological element of competing in an event like this and there was also work on our fitness levels.”

The General Choi tournament in the nation’s capital is usually the biggest trip for the society each year and it usually comports itself quite well with an average of around one podium finish per member travelled.

McDermott said the society has an excellent chance of being on the podium in some form in Australia but that isn’t the main goal.

“I don’t want to put any undue pressure on anyone to go out and win,” he said. “The primary thing for us is to go out there and compete and see how our skills match up with the world. We have had success in the past but there’s no pressure on them. It’s all about improving and stacking ourselves up versus the best from around the globe.”

The team will depart Iqaluit on March 3 and will eventually meet up with a majority of the team when they arrive in Vancouver to grab their connecting flight to Melbourne.

McDermott said one thing which is noteworthy is that the society will make up the largest portion of the Canadian delegation.

“That’s significant in of itself,” he said. “You don’t normally see that when 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 high level and I think our society reflects that ability to give these members the chance to take part in something like this. We’re very fortunate to be part of the very first event.”

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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