Santiago Herrera.

Herrera ready to take on world

Maple Ridge taekwondo student wins junior national championship.

Santiago Herrera wants to compete in the Olympics one day.

He’s going to have to take down the world first.

And that only after first conquering a personal battle.

Herrera is 16 years old and trains in a high performance taekwondo class at Black Belt World in Maple Ridge.

His instructor is Michell Ge, a former national champion. Ivett Gonda, who competed at the Olympics in 2004 and 2008, is another instructor at the school, as is Shin Wook Lim, head coach with Taekwondo Canada.

Herrera has been training in taekwondo with Ge since he was seven years old and is now a second band black belt.

He is a five-time provincial champion, in the cadet (ages 12-14) and junior (15-17) divisions, and in May won the under-59-kilogram class at the junior nationals at the University of Calgary.

He had a bye in the first round at the nationals, then won four straight matches, including an 11-6 decision over the Ontario representative in the final, to qualify for the junior worlds, to be held in Burnaby this November.

Herrera was excited to make the world championships, but also relieved.

“All of my hard work paid off.”

Herrera first started high performance training – twice a day, six times a week – in Grade 8.

He competed nationally and internationally, but then got “burned out” – overwhelmed. His performance suffered.

He feels now, through experience and maturity, that he’s back on track, that he’s “recovered what I lost and got back on top.”

The training schedule remains challenging for Herrera. But he has a different mindset than before.

“I just have to take it day by day.”

Ge said Herrera is a super dedicated athlete who commits his time to his training. He is part of the EPIC program at Pinetree secondary in Coquitlam, which gives him the extra time to train in the afternoons.

He also goes to hot yoga on Monday and Friday mornings and swims Thursday before school.

Two months leading up to nationals, he met with Ge at the track on Saturday mornings to break his mental block.

“And by Week 5, we accomplished that goal,” she said. “That moment was when Santiago said. ‘It feels like I just won nationals.’”

Herrera is determined to do well at the worlds, which will feature about 800 athletes.

He hopes next to compete at the Pan America Games, which are held every two years and next in 2017.

His ultimate goal is the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Just Posted

Canada Day a big show in Maple Ridge memorial park

Starts at noon, entertainment all day, July 1

UPDATE: Longboarder, 14, and car collide near Maple Ridge tent city

Teen taken to hospital by ambulance, injuries not life threatening

Letter: Clearcutting B.C.’s last old-growth leaving us poorer, forever

‘True sustainability is leaving similar values and conditions for future generations.’

Bard on the Bandstand returns with Shakespeare at the circus

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows production features gender reversed roles.

VIDEO: Clip of driver speeding past B.C. school bus alarms MLA

Laurie Throness of Chilliwack-Kent says he will lobby for better safety measures

Former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo to retire

‘Bobby Lou’ calls it a career after 19 NHL seasons

Man charged in crash that killed B.C. pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged for 2018 Highway 1 accident where Kelowna elementary school teacher died

Province unveils 10-year plan to boost mental health, addiction recovery services

The plan, called A Pathway to Hope, focuses on early-intervention services that are seeing high demand

Man arrested for alleged indecent act after ‘predatory’ SkyTrain incident

A woman had reported the man had exposed himself while on the train on April 29

Two helicopters reportedly seized by RCMP near U.S. border south of Cultus Lake

Federal Mounties mum on raid two weeks after dramatic raid reported by Columbia Valley residents

Man shot dead in Vancouver’s fifth homicide of 2019

Body was found in an apartment near Main Street and East 35 Avenue

Abbotsford council declines to declare climate emergency

Mayor says city is working to reduce emissions, but that procedures preclude immediate action

Most Read