One of Airdrie’s youngest martial artists competed in her first International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur (IFMA) Youth World Championship in Thailand Aug. 3-11.
Emily Vignaeult, 10, rode an impressive streak into the 34 kilo women’s final, earning a silver medal.
“I was very proud of myself with all the hard work I did. I performed very well,” Vigneault said. “I’m just so happy for myself and those that supported me. Taking silver just makes me want gold, and I will have it next time.”
Vigneault said the experience she received training and competing in Thailand showed her what her competitors had to train through in terms of the heat and surroundings of the country.
Although the heat was an issue for the young athlete early on, she said she eventually got accustomed to the environment and was able to train properly for the tournament.
The Airdronian has been training extremely hard, making Muay Thai a key component of her everyday life over the past four years.
Prior to getting into martial arts, Vigneault tried her hand at team sports like soccer and hockey, but she said they didn’t excite her the way combat sports does.
“I kept telling my dad I wanted to get into a fighting sport,” she said.
When she was six-years-old, Vigneault registered for the Airdrie Martial Arts Centre’s Little Dragons program. That helped her build a strong foundation.
Vigneault remained a member of Little Dragons for three years before her family moved to Ontario, where she was invited to train with Steve Lee at Redemption Muay Thai.
Vigneault said the time and training she put in with the Airdrie Martial Arts Centre helped her grow to be the athlete she is today and set her up for the success she is experiencing now.
After living and training in Ontario for a year, Vigneault and her family returned to Airdrie earlier this summer where she continued her strict training regimen. She started at a new gym with Team Smandych Muay Thai and Kickboxing in Calgary.
By taking her training into Calgary, Vingeault said she is able to train with a wide range of athletes within her age group and older. This allows her to progress as a martial artist and become a better athlete.
“I didn’t expect my training to take me to worlds,” she said. “I just wanted to fight, at first.”
Vigneault still has to focus on being a student as well as an athlete. She has a very tight and busy schedule, which includes waking up before school to do her homework, going to class, coming home and heading into the gym to train for two hours each night.
Though she is still young, Vigneault said she takes her training extremely seriously, hitting the gym six times each week She said she focuses almost all her spare time on training and becoming the best martial artist she can.