ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Four members of the Xavier Taekwondo will be in Quebec City Jan. 10 to 12 to compete in a national competition, with a shot at landing a spot on a national team.
“There will be approximately 500 athletes competing over three days of competition in various categories of sparring and forms; all members of the Xavier Taekwondo club compete in the sparring aspect of Taekwondo,” club instructor Jeremy Reeve wrote in an email to the Casket.
“The four members of the club will be competing in the junior 15 to 17-year-old division; fighting for a spot on the national team that will head to Lima, Peru this June for the Junior Pan American Championships.
“The team has been preparing for the event for the last five and a half months.”
The four local athletes are; Ewan MacDuff, Rebekah Pitts, Leah Grant and Cole Allen. For MacDuff, Pitts and Grant, this will be their first nationals. For Allen, it will be his third consecutive nationals, having fallen just short of podium finishes in 2017 and 2018.
Reeve broke down each athlete’s division and noted how they fared at a recent event just outside of Detroit, Michigan.
“Ewan will compete in the men’s 63 Kg divisions. Ewan will face 12 competitors from New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia,” Reeve wrote.
“Ewan is coming off a fourth place finish at the Michigan Midwest Championships where he competed against athletes from the U.S. and Ontario.
“Rebekah will compete in the women’s 52 Kg Division. Rebekah will face eight other competitors from Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and B.C.
“Rebekah is currently coming off a fourth place finish at the Michigan Midwest Championships where she competed against athletes from the U.S.
“Leah will compete in the women’s 46 Kg division. Leah will face eight other competitors from Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
“Leah is coming off a third place finish at the Michigan Midwest Championships where she competed against athletes from the U.S.
“Cole will compete in the men’s 48 Kg division where he’ll face six other athletes from Quebec, Newfoundland, Alberta and B.C.
“Cole is coming off a third and fourth place finish at the Michigan Midwest Championships where he competed in both the 12 to14 year old division, and moved into the 15 to17 year old division.”
Speaking just prior to a recent training session at the club’s location on Sydney Street in downtown Antigonish, Reeve said the four members traveled to Michigan in the fall with the nationals squarely in their mind.
“They were able to fight international competitors, people of a very high level; at the same or higher level of the athletes they’ll be competing against at the nationals,” he said.
“We were using that event as preparation for nationals because we were able to fight against people who are internationally ranked.”
As for his expectations for the four Xavier athletes, the veteran instructor said the goal is, “always, on one fight at a time.”
“Of course I would like to have four medals and four people on Team Canada. With everyone’s first time in the 15 to 17-year-old division, realistically we would like to just be on the podium,” Reeve added.