Emily Swann has returned from the 2014 U.S. Open Taekwondo Championships in Las Vegas with some experience and a better showing than expected.
The 16-year-old Swann from Qualicum Beach, a third degree black belt, took part in her first international competition in the junior lightweight division.
There were over 2,000 participants at the Las Vegas Hotel from around the world and Swann fheld her own quite well and finished in the top 16 in her division according to coach Brett Fee.
“There were over 30 girls in her division alone at this tournament and to have them all coming for this tournament from around the world meant she was going to face some tough opponents,” Fee said. “It’s not that often that someone can come in to an event like this and win in their first ever international fight. Typically, you don’t usually get a win in that first ever international match, so to see Emily have that happen was a really good accomplishment for her.”
Swann, who’s been in taekwondo since the age of six, came out aggressively in her first match against an opponent from Texas and never let up the entire fight. The score was 7-7 up until the end of the second round, which was when Swann took over. Swann landed a couple of nice spinning hook kicks to the head and won 12-8.
“It was a little nerve racking but I had a lot of fun,” Swann said. “I was really excited for my first fight and super excited that I was able to land some head shots in the fight. It was a good experience all around and I’m really happy with being able to go to a tournament like this and take it all in.”
In her second fight of the tournament, Swann was up against a tough opponent from Norway. Her Norwegian opponent was very experienced compared to Swann and it showed. A close fight in the first round, Swann never backed down in rounds two and three but couldn’t match the strength and experience of her opponent, who wound up winning the fight.
“Emily never backed down that whole fight and I was very proud of the effort she showed, not only in that match but the whole time she was there,” Fee said. “The top 16 finish was great and it really was a better result than both of us were expecting. She’s got what it takes to take it to the next level and I think this tournament really showed that to her.”
Swann is now gearing up for nationals in Montreal over the May long weekend. It will see each province competing against one another and will be another good test for Swann to see where she ranks nationally.