“We’ve got a hundred and seventy-five Island competitors,” he said above the cheers and the sounds of so many spirited players, “which is huge — that’s unprecedented for Vancouver Island.”
To say Parksville Taekwondo Academy’s Brett Fee was a busy guy May 19 would be a serious understatement, but as head instructor of the host club for the 2012 Vancouver Island Taekwondo Championships and a seasoned veteran in the ancient martial art, it was clear the second generation master and his family were in their element.
With Brett and his black belt brother and sister Brock and Kelly keeping the matches, and there were a lot of them with over 200 in all, running smoothly, their dad and club founder and school Master, fifth Dan Black Belt Murray Fee, was proudly overseeing the podium and clearly enjoying the action from the sidelines. Mom Lorrie Fee for those following along at home, is also a black belt.
“This is great,” Murray, dressed for the occasion in a suit and tie, grinned as another group of youngsters clambered up on the podium, their sweaty smiles as bright as the medals they received.
While the Islands have been historically an entry-level type tournament, Saturday’s installment was another step in bringing bigger tournaments to Parksville. Fee and PTA hosted the Island’s last year as well, but held it in Nanaimo.
He says the longterm plan is to bring the Islands, and hopefully other bigger tournaments, back to Parksville.
“It’s a destination,” Fee said as the sun poured in from the open bay doors. “Everybody I talk to from out of town says they love it here and that they’d definitely come back.”
There were 200 athletes in all on Saturday ranging in age from five to 50 something including a high performance club from the Mainland.
Every single athlete in attendance received a medal of some sort, and anybody that stopped in at PCC on the weekend saw some spirited competition.
“I’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” Fee said after it was over, and explained “the way we organized these things is a bit different then how they do it on the Mainland. They drag it on all day long ...the difference is we organized it so the 10 and unders were in the morning and the 11 and overs in the afternoon, which makes things a lot more efficient and better for everybody.”
There were too many terrific matches to list, but notables included Emily Swann, 15, who turned in a great effort to win gold in her black belt sparring event, as she took it to her opponent Ashlyn Arnold from Taegeuk Taikwondo in Port Moody, home to an Olympian and numerous junior national team members.
“She surprised her opponent,” Brett said when asked about the bought. “I think the girl was shocked and couldn’t recover. It surprised me — I’ve known Emily since she was a little girl, and she’s really starting to blossom.”
“It feels really good,” Emily beamed after.
Asked if she had a game plan going into the match, she nodded her head yes and said, “I really wanted to try my hook kick, my back kick, and I did — I got a point (for it).”
Another bought that had people talking was PTA’s Sherman Campbell, 15, who got off to a quick start in his Junior Lightweight black belt bought, dominating his opponent to the point he was given a standing eight count.
“He just hammered him — he rocked him on more than one occasion, but you have to give credit to (his competitor) who came back and did what he had to do to win the fight. It was a very gutsy display ... Sherman is a highly talented naturally gifted competitor, and they both left it all on the matt.”
Including their program in Qualicum Beach, PTA had about 90 competitors in the mix on Saturday.
“They all did awesome,” said Fee.
Asked how Parksville Curling Club held up as a venue and Fee gave it two thumbs up, explaining that everyone commented on the stands made the event more spectator, and competitor, friendly, as most tournaments the floor is crowded with both.
“It worked like a charm,” he said of the barn, “not to muggy not to hot we opened the doors in the afternoon it was great. They’re the best people to work with ... they were just so cool,” he said of the PCC members
Also in the mix and making noise at the Island finals were 28 students from Errington Taekwondo School — 21 of them aged 10 and under and the other nine, 11-and-up.
PTA members Alison Kells, 30, and Colin Warren, 19, are busy preparing for the 2012 Canadian Sr. National Taekwondo Championships slated for Toronto the end of June.