We left for Oakville early Friday morning since it’s about a 5 hour drive. I wanted to get to the hotel and just chill. It’s always fun to see old friends from all across Canada arrive. There were competitors from Vancouver to Halifax and all through the States down to Texas. After the weigh-ins I went out to dinner with the other athletes from Ontario which was nice. After dinner, instead of socializing any more I found a quiet place to stretch and go through my patterns. It’s always a good idea after a long drive. I could tell I was ready and focused for the next day.
The tournament was held at Sheridan College Saturday morning and started with an 8:00 black belt meeting and then the opening ceremonies. I didn’t compete until around 1:00 so it was a long day. It’s hard when you don’t know when you will be competing so you keep warming up, and then you don’t end up competing yet. You keep getting warm and ready and then cooling down so it puts a lot of stress on your body and mind. I knew who I was competing against so I knew I had to really step it up to a complete other level. This was such an important tournament to everyone so everyone was going to be at their best.
When I was called up for my first pattern I knew I had to win it or I would be eliminated. Before I go up I like to just stay quiet and alone to completely let my mind go. It gets to a point when it’s not even about thinking but just doing. It’s all muscle memory. My long time coach, and friend told me right before I went up that he saw the look in my eyes that he saw many years ago. The complete focus and drive. He was right. When you’re a black belt you perform the pattern of your choice and then a pattern of the judges choice. In my first pattern, I felt really strong. I think that pattern was one of the best ones I have ever done! The second pattern was just as good. I was so relieved and proud when I was announced the winner. Before my next round, I did this breathing exercise that my coach taught me to slow my breathing down. It really helped. Of course I was completely made fun of for looking funny. It’s amazing how hard it is on your body to do a pattern full strength. It is one of those things that you can never fully imagine or understand unless you have ever done it. Then I had to go up against the girl from Halifax that beat me at the last tournament. I lost because I didn’t know a pattern that the judges called so of course, I wanted my rematch. I actually made a mistake during my first pattern. In my head I was just screaming at the top of my lungs. I knew that even though I made a mistake, maybe the judges wouldn’t have noticed so I kept my cool and finished strong. Then the judges chose a final pattern for us to do. I am normally not aware of competitors beside me but I knew I had to make up for the previous mistake. I gave it my all so that even still with the mistake, I had to be that much better so that they had to vote for me. I was so happy when I won the gold. Points are awarded for the top three placements and these points count towards the seeding for the Nationals.
Then it was time sparring. I knew my competitor from the CanAm’s from Alberta last year. You never know how much the person has improved over the year so you have to start all over again. People and coaches keep telling me to go into the ring without any kind of strategy. During the first thirty seconds or so, I test the waters and read my opponent and then make up the points in the second round. Each match is 2 – 2 minute rounds.I wasn’t used to her type of sparring so I played it safe countering her every move. I was really happy to win the gold again. More points are a good thing!
At the end of the evening the officials made an announcement of who was invited back to the gym on Sunday to try out for the Pre-selection National Sparring Team for New Zealand. They based their decision on what they had seen during the day and how people have performed over the last year. I loved hearing my name called :).
We didn’t get out of the gym until almost 9:00p.m. Everyone went out for a big dinner but I just picked up some food and brought it back to my hotel room. I was tired from the long day and then I knew the next morning was probably going to be one of the most important events for me in TKD. I just needed to rest and clear my head so I would be ready.