By Andrea Elliott
The 29th Summer Universiade to be held in Taipei, Taiwan is quickly approaching with competition running from August 19-30 and Ryerson University student AJ Assadian is part of the delegation representing Canada.
The Universiade is organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and is a multi-sports international event for university athletes. The Universiade is second only to the Olympic Games in terms of size of participating athletes – over 11,000 athletes from 140 countries took part in the previous Games in 2015.
Assadian has been designated as an “athlete to watch” heading into Taipei as a member of the taekwondo team. He brings an impressive international resume with him to the Universiade.
“I have represented Canada for the past four years at many tournaments, such as several Pan American Championships and two World Championships,” said Assadian. “My first time representing Canada was in 2013 at the Pan American Championships in Queretaro, Mexico. At (that) tournament I placed first in my division as a cadet. The experience encouraged me to pursue this sport and achieve more in the future.”
Assadian started competing in taekwondo when he was nine years old but only started competing in High Performance Poomsae in 2012.
Poomsae is the artistic form of taekwondo that consists of hand and leg techniques utilized to create a set of offensive and defensive combinations that together create one full poomsae.
“The goal in Recognized Poomsae is to make the least number of mistakes, according to the standards of the referees, and perform with great speed, power, and flexibility while maintaining the proper timing for relaxation and tension between movements,” described Assadian.
“There is also a division called Freestyle Poomsae where you create your own routine to demonstrate in front of the referees with specific requirements within the performance with music playing while performing. In the Universiade Games, there is a combination of both recognized and freestyle poomsae, which means I must train for both types of competitions,” added Assadian.
A native of Richmond Hill, Ont., Assadian has been training at Dynamic Taekwondo in Mississauga under Master Hyun-Seok Seo for the past four years. Assadian credits his coach for his rapid success.
“(Master Seo) has been a true inspiration to me throughout the years and helped me in many ways such as analyzing my technique and correcting my mistakes. Without his assistance and his commitment to create the athlete I am today, I would not have gone this far to being able to compete at such a high-level competition like the Summer Universiade Games,” said Assadian.
Assadian’s mother is from Vigan, Philippines while his father is from Tehran, Iran. Neither country has a longstanding taekwondo history – both the Philippines and Iran saw taekwondo introduced around the mid 1970s. However, growing up in the Greater Toronto Area, Assadian had his choice of sports which eventually led him to focus on taekwondo.
“During my elementary school years I was a part of my school sports teams such as the basketball, volleyball and badminton teams. While in elementary school I was still training in taekwondo but had less time to focus on taekwondo solely due to being a part of several school teams. Thus, when I entered high school, I started focusing on taekwondo because I found it difficult to focus on many sports and my academics simultaneously,” said Assadian.
Assadian’s younger brother also competes in taekwondo, but in a different discipline.
“All three of my family members motivate me to become the best I can be and without the support from all three of them I couldn’t have gone this far, even with all the hard training I go through.”
The poomsae competition at the Universiade takes place August 20th (individual) and 21st (team).
The seventeen-year-old Assadian is heading into his first year at Ryerson University this September in the Urban and Regional Planning program.