A well known Taekwondo coach from the region is proud to have put Northern B.C. on the map at the 2018 ITF World Cup held in Sydney, Australia.
Vera Poole, head coach of Fort St. James Family Taekwon Do, not only accompanied her students to the tournament but also placed third in the world in the veteran category for sparring and patterns. Her official title with ITF is Assistant Instructor.
“I am humbled by it. It was exhilarating! The people I competed against were phenomenal and I have made some friends I just basically met for three days and we haven’t stopped talking. One of them lives in Africa and the other lives in New Zealand, so it’s been incredible,” Poole said.
However she wants to go back to get herself a gold medal.
Poole is the owner of Energy Connection Health and Fitness Ltd. in Fort St. James and has trained for over 11 years and taught for seven. She is a 3rd Dan Black Belt.
The Taekwondo team from Fort St. James was the only one from B.C. to have competed at the ITF World Cup which was held between Sept 25 and Sept. 30, 2018. The team comprised of four of Poole’s students and Kristina Wichrowski, assistant coach during the world cup and full time student with Poole.
She said the world cup was a huge learning curve for her students. Unfortunately one of her students got disqualified as he didn’t make weight, she said, noting there was a mistake made and he was disqualified and there was nothing they could do.
“Yes, it was very rough because we worked hard to get him back into the tournament but he was in, he was out, he was in, he was out – so we had the roller coaster to deal with,” Poole said.
Due to this challenge, she said he may have not done well in his patterns competition.
“But that’s the beauty of Taekwondo – that in a nutshell represents life and when we face challenges you have to be prepared for anything and there are ups and downs with everything. But it was all condensed for him in 72 hours instead of 15 years,” she said.
In terms of training, the students trained six days a week for six months prior to the tournament but they were heavily training for the tournament a year prior. The team trained with top martial arts instructors across the region to prepare for the world cup.
The group participated in sparring and patterns categories. Even though her students didn’t place in any of their categories, the team received the Best Dressed Group for the whole tournament.
“There were 1200 people from all across the world. From New York to London and our team from Fort St. James received that award. So that was kinda cool in itself,” Poole said.
The tournament was streamed live on YouTube, she said, noting it was great for people watching the tournament from home. But there was one match where Poole said everyone thought her student had won but the judges decided otherwise.
“But you know what that’s just the way it goes. But then again the experience was phenomenal. Lessons learned. Even though they didn’t place with any medals, they came home proud – heads held high. They went and they represented us and their sport and they did a very good job at it,” she said.
In the upcoming months, ITF Taekwondo in Smithers are hosting a fundraising tournament on March 9, “to raise money for a family that has been crippled by cancer,” Poole said. Three members of the same family have been diagnosed with cancer and the youngest one of them is probably not going to see spring, she said.
Teams from Terrace, Prince George, Houston, Burns Lake and more will be going down to Smithers to raise money for the family.
Apart from this, the Fort St. James team will be competing in the provincial championships which will be held in Terrace on April 13 where ITF teams from across B.C. will come to participate.
“I love Taekwondo because it’s all inclusive. People who come to me say there is no other place where my child feels supported and welcomed while they are competing. They are learning to be competitive because the world is competitive but they are learning to do it with integrity and they are learning to do it with self control. Taekwondo teaches you to be a whole round good person and it doesn’t matter whether you are fighting for your life or are helping your neighbor across the street just being a good Samaritan,” Pool said