Canada’s AJ Assadian (far right) helped make history at the Pan American Games July 25, 2019 held in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Sports Information)
Ryerson University student AJ Assadian made history this weekend with a double podium finish at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima.
Assadian is the first Canadian ever to reach the Pan Am Games podium in taekwondo’s poomsae discipline after winning the bronze medal in individual competition on Saturday morning. Poomsae, the artistic form of taekwondo where athletes perform a defined pattern of defence and attack motions, is making its debut at the Pan Am Games this year.
The half-Filipino whose mother is from Vigan, Ilocos Norte and an Iranian father, is a third year student at Ryerson University in Urban and Regional Planning.
“This is a big honour for me,” said Assadian in a press release. “I’ve dreamt about this day for a long time and I’m so happy I was able to get on the podium today.”
Assadian was also part of the five-member Canadian team that won the silver medal in the Mixed Team Poomsae Freestyle event.
“I’m really excited to be bringing two medals back to Canada,” said Assadian after Sunday’s finish. “I think our performance here shows anything is possible. We did all the little things right – rest, preparation, and followed our plan – to perform at our best. We expressed Canada today. We were fierce and intense, and we are very proud we achieved this goal.”
In total, Canada won three medals in four poomsae events at the Pan Am Games.
The Torontonian snagged Team Canada’s second medal on the opening day of official competition at the third largest international multi-sport Games where poomsae taekwondo is making its Pan American Games debut.
Heading into the ring with the confidence of a wily veteran, the 19-year-old delivered a stellar performance of hand and leg techniques that created a combination of defensive and offensive moves to earn him a score of 7.390.
“There was a lot of pressure on me today being the first poomsae athlete ever for Canada to compete at the Pan Am Games,” added Assadian. I didn’t do anything special or different today. I went about my preparation and performed the same as I always do. I’m just really happy I was able to perform.”
Assadian shared the bronze with Mexico’s Marco Arroyo.
“This is a big honour for me,” Assadian said. “I’ve dreamt about this day for a long time and I’m so happy I was able to get on the podium today.
“I have represented Canada for the past four years at many tournaments, such as several Pan American Championships and two World Championships,” said Assadian. “My first time representing Canada was in 2013 at the Pan American Championships in Queretaro, Mexico. At (that) tournament I placed first in my division as a cadet. The experience encouraged me to pursue this sport and achieve more in the future.”
Assadian started competing in taekwondo when he was nine years old but only started competing in High Performance Poomsae in 2012.
A native of Richmond Hill, Ont., Assadian has been training at Dynamic Taekwondo in Mississauga under Master Hyun-Seok Seo for the past four years. Assadian credits his coach for his rapid success.
“(Master Seo) has been a true inspiration to me throughout the years and helped me in many ways such as analyzing my technique and correcting my mistakes. Without his assistance and his commitment to create the athlete I am today, I would not have gone this far to being able to compete at such a high-level competition like the Summer Universiade Games,” said Assadian.
“During my elementary school years I was a part of my school sports teams such as the basketball, volleyball and badminton teams. While in elementary school I was still training in taekwondo but had less time to focus on taekwondo solely due to being a part of several school teams. Thus, when I entered high school, I started focusing on taekwondo because I found it difficult to focus on many sports and my academics simultaneously,” said Assadian.
Assadian’s younger brother also competes in taekwondo, but in a different discipline.
AJ pose with the Canadian team.