Mackenzie Miller and Mekonnen Cridland had to wait nearly 10 months to take advantage of the chance they earned by winning a provincial taekwondo championship.
After winning provincial titles in March of 2012, they two local competitors from Kim’s Moose Jaw YMCA Taekwondo Club made their debut at junior nationals at the 2013 Canadian National Taekwondo Championships in Vancouver earlier this month.
Miller competed in a pair of weight classes — bantamweight (under-39 kg) and was also in a fin/flyweight (under-36 kg) class that was a combined class some of the lighter competitors.
She won one bout out of her five fights, but earned a pair of bronze medals in her categories.
Miller beat Ontario’s Emily Lee 13-12 in overtime during the round robin. Lee ended up coming back to win the gold medal, which shows how closely contested the competition was.
“It was intense,” said Miller of her overtime win.
She got the chance to meet three Canadian Olympians who competed in London and enjoyed the chance to compete against high-level competition.
“They fight different and they have different style,” said Miller, 12, who attends St. Michael School.
Cridland competed as a middleweight and lost his only bout.
“It was fun. It went well,” said Cridland. “I got to fight a guy from Quebec who was really good.
“I learned a lot. He was a little bit taller than me. I got to fight someone older and bigger than me, so that was big.”
While Cridland only got a single fight, he said he enjoyed the chance to watch other high-level competitors during the competition.
“It was a good experience and there were a lot of good fights to watch,” said Cridland, 13, who attends Palliser Heights School.
The pair train in Moose Jaw, but also work with high performance coach Michelle Keith in Regina.
“As their coach I'm the first to call their attention to the goals they set for themselves and the goals we set together. Win or lose, those goals are the primary target. And because they both hit them all and then surpassed them, they walked away champions,” said Keith.
“They both came out of the ring wanting more — more training, more competition, more obstacles, more challenge. What more could any coach, in any sport, anywhere, ask for?”