A FATHER-DAUGHTER pair new to taekwondo struck a different type of gold as they competed in their first tournament in Kelowna recently.
Graham Genge and his seven-year-old daughter Stina Genge joined Atlantis Taekwondo in January, and the two freshman martial artists had a blast together as they sparred their way to silver and bronze in the BC Cup May 6.
It was heartwarming even for fellow Terrace competitor Amanda Annibal, who enjoyed watching the fun golden moments between the father-daughter pair.
“They just had such a good time,” Annibal said, “and it was so cute, you know, like father-daughter combo, and their excitement and good sportsmanship. It was just a really neat thing to see.”
Besides having a blast together, the whitebelt pair also snapped up silver and bronze medals in their sparring divisions, despite this being their first-ever tournament.
Stina competed against 15 to 20 other martial artists, and took silver in the age 6-7 division for white and yellow belts.
“She had a huge group of competitors, so that was quite an accomplishment for her,” said Annibal.
Coach Cody Skog agreed, adding that she’s been a dedicated, focused student from the start. “She is an assertive sparrer, and has good precision,” he said.
Graham, too, kicked through the age 18-35 division with impressive ability, sparring against both white and yellow belts.
“It was really exciting, because he was doing really well against some higher belts,” said Annibal. “No one could believe he’s never done it before.”
She added that Graham landed some solid kicks and was tiring competitors of much higher levels. “He did a big axe kick, like a really high axe kick, and landed it… and he was winding the other competitors, like they were getting tired fighting him… It was awesome,” she said.
With a busy schedule, Graham has participated in only six taekwondo classes at Atlantis since starting in September. He joined the sport as a way to build up his relationship with his daughter.
“It’s nice to have something in common with what your kids are interested in,” he said, adding that he wants to learn and support her.
“We get the opportunity to travel to different tournaments and compete together, it’s pretty fun,” he said, adding that they had a great time at the tournament in Kelowna.
As for the competition, Graham said he was surprised by how well he did.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, but the instincts kicked in. I just took what I had been taught and knew, and just that instinct to compete… I’m really competitive,” he said of what was involved in his sparring.
Competing against yellow belts with much more experience, Graham said he simply gave it his all.
“I did have a lot up against me, so I just tried as hard as I could and was successful… and same with Stina,” he said.
Graham was also learning and taking tips as he went along, even from much younger martial artists.
“There were kids 10-12 years old that were teaching me things while I was there… it was really fun to have a ten-year-old show you what you’re doing wrong and stuff,” he laughed, adding that most of the other Terrace competitors were more advanced than him.
Another standout at the tournament was Atlantis coach Cody Skog, who was coaching and competing in the blackbelt division. He took double gold, winning in both sparring and patterns against the other blackbelts.
“His jumping 360 back-kicks are really accurate. He lands them almost every time,” Annibal said of a move that stood out in Skog’s sparring battles.
“It’s super inspiring to have a coach that’s [competing] with you,” she said.