When first-year Royal Military College (RMC) Cadet Hannah Lee went to the Taekwondo Canada Open in Montreal, she knew she would be competing individually and with a partner.
What she didn’t know was that an opening on Team Puerto Rico would land her on the podium in the team competition.
Lee, originally from Cambridge, Ont., was set to compete alone, and with a partner in poomsae, the discipline of performing taekwondo patterns at the Canada Open, which was held from October 4 to 6, 2019. The event welcomes members of the World Taekwondo community to Canada each year, and features high-calibre athletes, such as the current Pan Am Taekwondo champion.
However, the team from Puerto Rico was short a member, so, with just an hour before the competition, they asked Lee to join them.
“I was surprised when I first heard the news from my coach, but I couldn’t have been more grateful to be presented with such a unique opportunity to join the Puerto Rico team. I was definitely excited and nervous all at the same time,” Lee said of the unplanned for opportunity.
While most teams spend months training together to fine-tune the synchronization and rhythm the discipline demands, the Puerto Rico team, featuring Lee as a new team member, was able to excel on the mat.
“One of the very first things that I learned when attending RMC and being on the competitive taekwondo club was team work and collaboration, and I think this skill set was advantageous in learning my role with the Puerto Rico team,” Lee expressed. “Despite having short time to practice and get to know each other, once we started to go over the poomsae a few times, we naturally formed a great team dynamic.”
Team Puerto Rico impressed the judges from around the world, earning the silver medal in the ‘Female Team Under 30’ category.
“It was such a rewarding feeling, not only to earn silver in our event, but to have performed our best on the mat and accomplish what once seemed impossible,” said Lee, noting that the level of competition was higher than she’d anticipated. However, Lee credited the “immense support” from her coach and the RMC Taekwondo Team in helping her overcome challenges and perform her best at the competition.
“There was so much joy and excitement as soon as we got off the mat,” Lee said. “Although we were representing two different countries, in that moment, there was a sense of unity among us.”
Lee’s fellow first-year RMC Cadet Samuel Xiao earned a bronze medal in the ‘Individual Male Under 30’ poomsae category, and Lee and Xiao placed fifth together.