AJ Assadian etched his name in the history books as the first Canadian ever to reach the Pan American Games podium in taekwondo’s poomsae discipline after winning the bronze medal on Saturday morning in Lima, Peru.
“This is a big honour for me. I’ve dreamt about this day for a long time and I’m so happy I was able to get on the podium today,” said Assadian.
The Torontonian snagged Team Canada’s second medal on the opening day of official competition at the third largest international multi-sport Games where poomsae taekwondo is making its Pan American Games debut.
Heading into the ring with the confidence of a wily veteran, the 19-year-old delivered a stellar performance of hand and leg techniques that created a combination of defensive and offensive moves to earn him a score of 7.390.
“There was a lot of pressure on me today being the first poomsae athlete ever for Canada to compete at the Pan Am Games,” added Assadian, who attends Ryerson University in Toronto. “I didn’t do anything special or different today. I went about my preparation and performed the same as I always do. I’m just really happy I was able to perform.”
American Alex Lee won the gold medal with a score of 7.660. Peru’s Hugo Del Castillo thrilled the hometown crowd with the silver medal after racking up a score of 7.490. Mexico’s Marco Arroyo shared the bronze-medal step of the podium with Canada’s Assadian.
“I hope this performance sparks some more attention and participation in poomsae taekwondo,” said Assadian. “It has been awesome to have our sport included in the Pan Am Games. It has been an amazing experience.”
Calgary’s Valerie Ho was the lone Canadian the women’s individual poomsae competition. Ho finished in sixth place with a score of 7.010.
Mexico’s Paula Fregosa won the women’s gold medal with a tally of 7.660. Peru’s Marcela Castillo was second at 7.530. Karyn Real of the United States shared the bronze medal step on the podium with Ecuador’s Claudia Cardenas. Real scored 7.510, while Cardenas was 7.210.
Yvette Yong and Miguel Diaz Drop Kyorugi Matches
Canada’s Yvette Yong and Miguel Diaz both dropped their opening matches at the 2019 Pan American Games.
After gaining an opening round bye given her number-one ranking in the women’s under-49kg category, Toronto’s Yong was topped 20-7 to Cuba’s Yania Aguirre.
Miguel Diaz also had a rough outing in the men’s under 58kg category. Competing in his first match in the round of eight, the Torontonian lost by point gap, 29-9, to David Kim of the United States.