AMHERST – In less than a month Amherst’s Ashley Blenkhorn will wake up in a hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and then she will go for gold.
“My Team Canada coaches in Quebec told me that they feel I have a good chance to medal,” said Blenkhorn. “There’s no way to predict that but they like my skill set.”
The 17-years-old student at JC's TaeKwon-Do in Amherst is heading to Benidorm, Spain where she will compete at the 2013 World TaeKwon-Do ITF Championship as part of Team Canada.
More than 60 countries will participate in the competition, which runs from Oct. 23 to 27.
“From now until then I will focus on keeping sharp,” said Blenkhorn. “I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, but only faster.”
Jim Ripley, her coach at JC’s, says they will focus on sparring.
“We’ll make sure she’s under pressure and create more problems for her to figure out,” said Ripley. “If something arises (at the world’s), maybe she’s already seen it and she can go at it from there.”
Blenkhorn has been training in Tae Kwon Do for about 10 years and hasn’t had a break in her training this season since it started earlier this year.
She started the season at local competitions, then at the Eastern Canadian championships, then at the nationals, and now at the world’s.
Besides her regular training at JC’s, she’s also been training three nights a week at the Cumberland YMCA.
“I do both weight training and Tae Kwon Do at the Y,” she said. “There’s a nice room up there with nice mirrors, so I go up there and work on my footwork and my balance, and do some other training on my own.
“I can train as much as I want but the day I get there it’s me and the other girl,” she added. “Everybody there is at the world level and she could throw something I’m used to seeing or she could throw something I’ve never seen before.”
She’s never been to a major competition without her JC’s teammates.
“I’ll have my (Canada) teammates there but it’s not the same,” she said. “I’m going to miss them.”
Blenkhorn has never travelled to Europe, and her mom and dad will be travel with her for support.
“They won’t see me a lot during those competition days because I’m going to be with the team,” she said. “There’s meals we have to eat together and other things, so I’m going to be busy with them.”
She’s excited to be travelling to Europe.
“I get to wake up and look at the Mediterranean Sea for nine days straight. I get to look at that instead of the Amherst skyline, so that’s a nice little change,” she said. “And we have a couple days in Paris as a family on our way back home.”
Blenkhorn has her plane booked and her hotel booked, and she thanks everybody who helped make her dream become reality.
“Everything was done through fundraising and sponsorship and the goodness and kind hearts of the people in this town,” she said.
The competition will be live streamed on the ITF World Championship 2013 website but the exact web address has yet to be established.
“There is going to be a live feed, so people in Amherst can watch,” said Blenkhorn.