Kevin Cull figures it has been roughly a decade since Yellowknife had any sort of representation at the Canadian National Taekwondo Championships.
He made the trip to the 2020 edition of the championships in Laval, Que., earlier this month and came home with the fruits of his labour in the form of new neckwear.
Cull, a black belt instructor with the T’idene Taekwondo Club, snagged himself a silver and bronze medal in poomsae (forms) in Jan. 18 and 19 with his silver coming in the over-30
team event and the bronze in the under-40 solo event.
The team event features groups of three performing two sets of poomsae in as perfect synchronization as possible and Cull said the poomsae he and his teammates – Matthew Bodnaryk of Saskatchewan and Jim Gies of Ontario – were chosen for them beforehand.
“There are 10 poomsae you can do and the national poomsae coach for Taekwondo Canada (Seung-Min Rim) chose the two we would be doing,” he said.
The trio was informed the night before the competition of their poomsae and, from there, it was off to work on getting things as good as they could be.
“I flew in the Thursday before everything started and we started practising together,” said Cull. “We worked on timing and techniques because we all had differences and the goal was to get it to look as close to the same as possible.”
The trio put in five hours of work on the 18th and three more the following day and it seemed to work as they came in second.
The silver medal was in the bag as there were only two teams in the division but Cull said the goal among the trio was victory and when you see the margin of victory between the two teams, you’ll understand why.
“We ended up .10 points (7.032 to 6.932) behind the winners,” he said. “Our goal was to win and we literally missed it by that much.”
The bonus prize for winning would have been a trip to the World Poomsae Championships in May.
Fresh off his team performance, it was off to the solo poomsae event for Cull where he competed in the men’s under-40 division and ended up winning himself bronze behind gold medallist Timothy Johl of Ontario and silver medalist Reza Rabiei, also from Ontario.
Just like in the team event, the competitors were given two sets of poomsae to perform for the judges and Cull said that was done to make it easier to judge.
“They can see everyone doing the same thing and evaluate based on how each competitor performed them,” he said.
The solo result was a big surprise for him, he added.
“I’m thrilled with how I did and my score (6.616) is my best one to date,” he said.
Cull brought the medals to one of the club’s practices as soon as he got home and said the younger ones got a kick out of them.
“They all tried them on and had a lot of fun wearing them,” he said.
The reason for the big gap between national championship appearances, said Cull, is because the club has focused more on the grassroots but there’s no reason why those appearances can’t be more frequent in the years to come.
“We didn’t really have the athletes at that age or level to compete for a while,” he said. “We’ve gone through ebbs and flows, just like every other sport in the territory, but if they stick with it and put in the effort, we’ll be back there. There are definitely some kids with the talent to do it.”