—Every Medal Has A Story—

       Pan-American Games 2011- Guadalajara, Bronze Medal -84kg


 In the spring of 2011, I went to the Canadian National Championships with two friends of mine,  Anthony and Gérard. Among the adrenaline around us, my friends brought up the subject of the Pan-American Games. Casually I listened, agreeing with them, "Yes, I know about these championships," I said to them. They corrected me, "No, no. It's the Pan-American Games!"

The Pan-American Games take place once every four years, they explained to me, and this year they were going to be in Mexico. Very much like the Olympics, the Pan-American Games involve many sports, but unlike the Olympics Karate is included. All costs for the athletes are also covered—food, lodging, medical… as in the Olympics. Only this was the Pan-American Games! I listened with intent, and in my head I was already champing at the bit, "That's really cool! How can I get there?" I asked.

 My friends began explaining to me that in order to qualify for the Pan-American Games, first I needed to be part of the National Team. I was not yet part of the National Team at this point. Then, they explained that I needed to compete at the Pan-American Championships and North American Cup, to make points. They also informed me that at the last Pan-American Games four years ago, only four athletes from Karate (in Canada) had qualified.

As it was clear to me, standards were set high; the challenge that it would be hard work to get on the team excited me. 

 That year, in 2011, I made it on the National Team… I also qualified to go to the Games. I was so excited and continued preparing without delay. 

 One month before the Games, I was competing at the World Cup in Turkey. In a practice round, just 3 days prior to the tournament, I badly sprained my ankle. Since I had travelled all that way, and more importantly since I had been persevering toward a goal, I thought to myself, "I'm still going to compete, even if my foot is as big as an elephant's!" I did compete, I lost the fight and I won a lot of experience.

 When I came back to Montreal, I went to my medical exam confining me to 6 weeks of recovery time. But by that time, there were only 3 weeks remaining to the Games. The doctors advised me not to go. Well… I decided to go; I was going to compete, and that's what I did!

 Of course in preparation I did not train as physically as I would have had I not been injured. However, I made sure to do all the physiotherapy I could, as well as mental preparation, and video analysis.

 Upon arriving in the athletes village, I could not believe the number of countries participating; there were forty countries participating at the Games that year, and they were all representing a vast majority of sports. I never imagined there to be so many countries involved.  

 At the main hall, was a wall of medallists. Photographs framed the names and faces of champions who had already won medals in previous days at this Pan-American Games. It was already five days prior to the competition, and everyday I would pass by that wall hoping that soon I would be on it.

 Five days later, I was on the wall! With a very well-taped ankle, I had won a bronze medal and an unforgettable experience. It was incredible and I was so happy. I was telling to everyone I met;  "I got bronze! I got bronze!" :)) I know that my amazing and supportive teammates helped me make this possible. Thank you Karate Canada, Goli, Pat, Shaun, and our 2 coaches Gary and Kraig! Also thank you Anthony and Gérard for telling me about these games. Thanks to Arawaza for supporting me all this time for the last years. 

 This year the Pan-American Games are being held in Canada. I would like to wish all Canadians participating in each and every division good luck, and to give one hundred percent. Go Canada!


"Everyone has the desire to win, but only champions have the desire to prepare."#karateCanada #AKASkarate #Arawaza #panamgames2011