Maple Ridge’s Ivett Gonda made history on Tuesday by winning bronze in taekwondo at the 2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China, becoming the first ever Canadian to earn a taekwondo medal in the history of the games.
After a hard-fought 1-0 win over Lamyaa Bekkali of Morocco in the round of 16 in the morning, Gonda had to face a tough opponent in the quarter-finals in Almira Yesmyrzayeva of Kazakhstan, who reached semifinals of 2006 world youth championships.
Gonda prevailed 5-4 to advance to the semifinals and guaranteeing her a medal. However, Gonda did not get a chance to compete for gold after she was forced to withdraw from competition with an injury.
However, Gonda almost didn’t take to the mat on Tuesday morning, as she has been battling a fierce virus that had her bed-ridden for days prior to her matches.
“This morning I was talking to my coach and was ready to pull out as I was really sick with flu and cold,” Gonda said. “He convinced me to come and at least give it a try and I’m thankful for his decision. I stuck through it.”
Hungarian-born Gonda has been training at Tae Geuk Tae Kwon Do in Port Moody, where she is also a part-time instructor, since she was eight years-old, all the time under the watchful eye of headmaster Shin Wook Lim, one of the Team Canada coaches.
Gonda won the 2001 Canadian junior championships in her first appearance at the event. Two years later, as a 17-year-old junior, she won the 2003 Canadian senior championships. The 25-year-old is a two-time Olympian (2004, 2008), three-time Pan Am Games medallist including gold in 2004, and six-time senior national champion.
“I had no goals coming here as this is an outside tournament before the Olympic qualifications but I am retiring soon and wanted to experience a Universiade,” said Gonda.