Teen gets international kick for higher learning

If there’s a school of hard knocks, Douglas College’s Ashlyn Arnold is ready to enroll in it.
The teen taekwondo athlete is well schooled in how to take a punch, strike and scissor kick, and dish them out. Getting to do it on an international stage is, understandably, all the more intense.
That’s why the recent high school grad is pumped for this month’s Universiade Summer Games in Taiwan, proudly banging the drums in anticipation.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Arnold of the honour, which came with a strong showing at the Canadian national championships where the then-16-year-old placed second.
“It was pretty exciting news, and it’ll be an incredible experience.
I just graduated (in June) so I wasn’t sure I was eligible, but I got all my (Douglas College) registration done.”
Before even taking a post-secondary course in the college’s sports sciences program, Arnold will be representing the nation and her school in Taipei Aug. 19 to 30. She’ll be among the youngest athletes in competition.
Taekwondo has proven to be a passport for the Port Moody native, opening travel routes to various and faraway places. While she competes because she’s passionate about the sport and is determined to push it to the limit, the travel is a nice side benefit.
Mexico, South Korea, Austria, Luxembourg and U.S. cities – Arnold finds the sport is mostly the same everywhere, although the different competitors and styles of fighting present intriguing challenges.
“I definitely notice a difference between European and North American styles,” she said. “The fighting style is different, there’s a different focus and strategy in their styles.
“The challenge is always to adjust, but in every fight you have to adjust, to work your own style to compete against theirs.”
At last year’s Pan Am Open, she collected silver in the junior division. As a senior with Team Canada at the Pan Am championships, she made the top eight. Earlier this year, she placed top-16 at the U.S. Open.
One of her favourite moments came in the Canadian national senior final this year, when she squared off against 2016 Olympian Melissa Pagnotta, 28, and finished second.
“It was an incredible experience,” she recalled. “I use to train with (Pagnotta) a little, and I always looked up to her. … Even though I thought I wouldn’t be able to beat her, I just made sure I tried my best.”
Competing in the -67-kilogram class, Arnold will enter the Games ranked 107th in the world. A two-time Canadian national team member, she has gained valuable perspective on what that experience means.
A student of social media, Arnold has engaged family, friends and followers on the internet to help raise the funds necessary to make the upcoming trip a success. At makeachamp.com/Ashlyn,
she began with a modest goal of $2,500 to cover the costs of attending the Universiade Summer Games and received overwhelming support.
Beginning taekwondo as a four-year-old and competing since the age of seven, Arnold has developed an impressive resume, which includes seven provincial titles. It’s meant lots of sacrifices and enduring her share of pain, but when it comes time to pull on a Team Canada uniform, she doesn’t hesitate.
“It’s definitely an honour every time,” she added.
“My goal (at the Universiade) is to basically take in every moment and do my best. I’d love to make the podium.”

article continues below

Read Related Topics

© New West Record