Maple Ridge’s Ivett Gonda gave Team Canada a literal kick-start on Saturday’s opening day at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Gonda grabbed the country its first gold medal at the Games after handling Lizbeth Julissa Diez Canseco of Peru 13-6 in the women’s under-49 kg division of taekwondo, including out-pointing her 8-1 in a final round that featured a decisive roundhouse kick to the head.
“I’ve always wanted to perform well and today it all just came together, so I’m quite happy that I was able to do that,” said Gonda. “But this is just one stepping stone towards London. I have to stay focused and go back to training and do what I did before.”
Gonda has two more qualifying events to compete in before she finds out if she will join Team Canada for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The 25-year-old Gonda was born in Hungary and moved to Canada at age four. She has won several international competitions, including claiming bronze at the 2007 Pan Ams in Brazil, and is a two-time Olympian who placed fifth in Athens in 2004.
In the semifinals, Gonda posted an 8-3 victory over Deiranne Estephany Morales of the U.S. after having whipped Carolena Carstens of Panama 11-4 in the quarter-finals.
Gonda received a bye in the first round of the competition after her opponent could not make weight.