Teya Doughty is one step closer to ending her final year of high school with one of her greatest accomplishments of her sports career.
The 17-year-old martial artist qualified for the national championships for taekwondo and will be vying for a position on the podium in May.
When she first started the sport in Grade 5, Doughty was inspired by kung fu movies.
“Jackie Chan was my favourite actor,” she said. “That started the whole thing.”
This year, Doughty is concentrating all of her energy on sparring, and has come a long way from her early days.
“When I first saw a video of people sparring, I was terrified,” Doughty said. “Then after a few years I tried it and loved it.”
She started at Dragon Martial Arts with the goal of acquiring her belts. Then her interests turned to competing and she switched to Port Alberni Taekwondo, where she was able to train for higher levels and tournaments.
Doughty took part in her first competition five years ago and was hooked. For the past three years, she has been to the provincial championships and won both gold and silver medals. Last year, she achieved her coveted black belt and has amped up her training for the final year before graduating from Alberni District Secondary School.
She travels to a Parksville to train three days a week after school and still makes it to rugby practice in-between. She usually goes to school early to do homework, or stays in at lunchtime. On top of that, she works part-time.
Although she is one of the oldest students at the school in Parksville, she said she looks to some of the younger athletes as mentors.
“I have a friend who is 12 years old who is getting a black belt soon,” she said. “Same with a 14-year old friend. They are amazing at sparring.”
The fights in sparring mainly involve kicking and Doughty said her height is an advantage.
“The leg reach is important because I can reach farther,” she said. “But the disadvantage is that I can’t kick if they’re too close.”
The financial cost to reach her goal quickly add up. Apart from travelling to Parksville, Doughty regularly trains in Vancouver.
“I went to Vancouver in December and trained with a two-time Olympic medalist, an Olympic hopeful and a Canadian Olympic coach, master Lim,” Doughty said. “He’s a really good motivational speaker.”
In April, Doughty will be training every weekend in Vancouver for BC team training to prepare for the nationals, held this year in Calgary on May 14.
“I’ll be training one and a half hours on Saturdays and Sundays to get to a level to compete,” she said.
While her parents, Mike and Rhonda Doughty have been helping collect bottles to cover some costs, Doughty has also set up a GoFundMe page.
“She had a choice at the beginning of the year to do recreational or go all out,” Rhonda said. “It is a big commitment on top of a heavy academic load.”
After winning gold in the provincials the weekend of March 12 as the youngest of her division, consisting of 17 to 29 year-olds, Doughty feels confident about her next challenge.
“I’m hoping to get a medal,” she said.
If she does, it will go well with the bronze medal that she received from a tournament on March 19.