MANCHESTER, Eng.—The road ahead to the 2020 Olympic Summer Games is looking more promising for Canadian teenager, Skylar Park, who captured her first World Taekwondo Championship bronze medal on Friday in Manchester, England.
The 19-year-old Winnipegger faced a monstrous task on Friday evening at the Manchester Arena. Not only did she square off against the hometown favourite Jade Jones from Great Britain, but the experienced fighter also happened to be a two-time Olympic champion and the number one-ranked athlete in the women’s 57kg weight class.
Facing Jones for the third time in her young career, the talented Park came up short in her quest to fight for gold, losing the semifinal match 18-12, and earned the bronze medal.
“I’m super excited. To be on the podium at World Championships is amazing,” said Park. “Sometimes it doesn’t seem to be as big because you always want to be going for gold, but I’m happy all of my matches went really well today. I know this isn’t the best I can do, and there is lots of room to grow to be on top of the podium.”
Park was matching points with Jones through the opening two rounds in the sea-saw affair. Tied 7-7 in in the third round, a couple of key points by the British athlete late in the third round was the difference.
“I keep getting closer to beating (Jade) each time. I had her right until the end when I gave up some points within the last few seconds. It was an exciting match,” added Park.
The 2016 Junior World Champion, and winner of two bronze medals in 2018 on the prestigious Grand Prix circuit, Park cruised through her first two rounds on Friday beating Chile’s Fernanda Aguirre 17-7 in the round of 32 before punishing Finland’s Suvi Mikkonen 41-12 in her second match.
Park and Croatia’s Nikita Glasnovic had one of the best matches of the day. The two scrappers were deadlocked at 11, with scoring a point in extra time to secure the sudden-death quarter-final victory.
“I started off a bit slow but worked my way into all of the matches,” said Park. “The quarters I started out really slow. I was down 7-0 after the first round but came back and tied it up and was happy it worked out in my favour.
“I fought a lot of tough fighters today. I’m excited for the big events coming up because I know I have lots of room for improvement and more to give.”
Two other Canadians also competed on Friday.
World Championship rookie, Josipa Kafadar of Burnaby, B.C., made it to the second round of the women’s 49kg division. Kafadar blanked Katerina Adreou of Cypress, 15-0, in her opening match before falling to the two-time Olympic champion from China, Jingyu Wu, 5-17 in the round of 32.
Quebec City’s Eloi Paradis-Deschenes dropped his opening-round match in the men’s 74kg weight division to Turkey’s Baris Dag.
Canada will send four athletes into the ring on Saturday including: Charlotte Brown (Quebec City) F53kg; Siddhartha Bhat (Pickering, Ont.) M63kg; Melissa Pagnotta (Toronto) F67kg; Christopher Iliesco (Montreal) M80kg