It’s not often athletes from Beiseker compete on the world stage, but that’s precisely what martial artists from East Side Tae Kwon-Do did at the 2019 International Martial Arts Council (IMAC) USA World Championship, held June 28 to 30 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Seven athletes from the club were among the approximately 60 athletes representing Canada at the IMAC World Championships – an open competition for various martial arts styles, including taekwondo, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, karate and more. The competition featured athletes from the United States, Canada, Mexico and a few South American countries.
“It gave our kids a different perspective on how we train here and how we’re still a little softer than the kids from Mexico,” said Gary Lloyd, head instructor at East Side Tae Kwon-Do and a Team Canada coach.
“It kind of opened our kids’ eyes up to [thinking], ‘Well, maybe sometimes, instead of stopping, I need to just…work a little harder and work through some of the pain.’”
The athletes from Beiseker, ranging in age from nine to 17 years old, included Stephanie Bell, Carter Prevost, Liam Hollands, Shay-Lynn Woofenden and siblings Louzee, Cedric and Josey Lichtenberger.
The group performed well, according to Lloyd, garnering 20 trophies by finishing in the top three of their respective categories. Cedric brought home the largest medal haul, with three first-place finishes in the Team Kata, Open Kata and Korean Kata categories and a bronze trophy in Point Sparring.
“Unlike our tournaments up here, there were multiple divisions you could enter,” Lloyd said. “Some of our people entered three or four different divisions and got trophies in those divisions.”
A martial arts instructor for four decades, Lloyd moved to Beiseker 23 years ago, and founded East Side Tae Kwon-Do.
“My reputation as an instructor kind of followed me out here,” he said. “I’ve had people from Calgary [and Airdrie] come out and train here. I’ve had people from Three Hills and Strathmore come and train with me. I think right now, we’re sitting at something like 35 or 40 kids training here.”
The 70-year-old black-belt-holder said his club has become a popular sporting option for youth in the community.
“We have hockey and soccer and things like that here, as well, and we still keep our numbers up, even though we have those other sports to contend with,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of our kids.”