Thursday, July 21, 2011

Douglas College student takes taekwondo to the top

Photo: Big2Films

By Tamara Letkeman, doug Editor

She’s only 25, but Ivett Gonda is looking to retire soon.

At least from the competitive world of taekwondo.

The Douglas College Criminology student, ranked as one of the top taekwondo fighters in the world, is a two-time Olympian, having competed in the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2008 Games in Beijing. She won a gold medal at the 2004 Pam Am Games and reached the quarter-finals at the world championships in Gyeongju, South Korea, in May. Next month, the six-time national champion heads as part of Team Canada to Shenzhen, China, to test her skills at the 2011 Summer Universiade.

“I’m excited,” Ivett says about competing in the Universiade. “This is the first time I’ve been able to do the games, the first time I’ve been able to work with the schedule. It’s something different.”

Ivett’s also hoping to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London. But after that, she sees things winding down.

“I’ve pretty much been at the top. I’ve been on the international circuit for the last 11 years, and I’m kind of at my end now. I’d like to finish off the Olympics cycle - and I guess be on the podium - but I’m happy with what I’ve done with my career in the past year.”

And then what? Ivett says she’s looking forward to completing her education. She’s nearly finished her courses at Douglas, and plans to transfer to SFU in the Fall of 2012. From there, she wants to enter law school.

It hasn’t always been easy juggling school life with life on the competitive taekwondo circuit for Ivett, who’s also taking online courses at Capilano University. But she’s managed to make it all work.

“I was always trying to find courses that worked with my training schedule, or I would take just two courses, or one course when it was high competition season. But Douglas has been great, offering both daytime and nighttime courses. Something that really helped me was having the professors understand my situation and competition needs.”