Brianna Li to compete in 2019 Taekwon-do World Championships. (Photo contributed)

Brianna Li to compete in 2019 Taekwon-do World Championships. (Photo contributed)

Vernon athlete takes on second Taekwon-do World Championship

Brianna Li is one of three athletes, and the only female, from B.C. to qualify.

Vernon’s Brianna Li, 15, has qualified as part of Canada Team for the second time at the ITF World Taekwon-do Championships.

This year, the competition is being held in Inzell, Germany April 24-28. The tournament will host approximately 1,200 black belt athletes from more than 60 countries.

Li is one three athletes, and the only female, from B.C. to qualify for the tournament. Her coach, David White of Sundance Taekwon-Do, will be with her in Inzell, which is located in the Bavarian Alps.

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“This is black belt only (competition) and it does represent the highest level of competition in the world for Taekwon-do athletes,” said White. “And the competition is really awesome,” .

Having been in the sport since she was seven-years-old, Li earned a black belt in about six years. This is the second world championships she has qualified for. Li also competed in the world championships in Ireland in 2017.

“She came back from the first world championships and lots of people (who) go to an event like that get intimidated— sometimes they even quit the sport,” he said.

“But she came back with a whole new perspective on sparring and she made the adjustments and became more committed and there’s a noticeable difference between last time and this time. It’s the maturity, and she now knows what she’s getting into.

Going to a second tournament is rare, but Li will be eligible to qualify again for a third time in 2021 in Finland which is very rare.

A French Immersion student from Seaton high school, Li qualified for Team Canada after winning a gold medal in hyper weight sparring at the Canadian National Taekwon-do Championships held in Calgary last November.

Then, in January, she attended the Canadian Taekwon-Do Federation’s national team selections and training camp in Montreal, which served as an opportunity for athletes to train for events such as patterns, sparring, special technique (flying), and power breaking.

While there, she was selected to the national junior girls’ team for special technique, power breaking and sparring and has also been chosen to compete individually in the junior girls special technique competition. That means she has five shots at a medal in Germany.

“Getting first place in sparring in Calgary was pretty cool for me,” said Li. “It’s pretty great because instead of just competing in sparring like I did in Ireland, I get to compete in five events now this time. I’m pretty excited about that.”

The cost for Li to attend the world championships is approximately $5,000. So, to help fund the trip, two local fundraisers were organized. Li is hosting a Chinese buffet fundraiser at Kiki Gardens Restaurant Tuesday, March 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. An online auction on Facebook also launched earlier this week (to bid, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/306188236733589/). All funds raised through both events will go directly towards Li’s trip expenses.

“She’s a great girl and she’s really grateful for the opportunities, but she does break the bank,” said Brianna’s mom, Dayna Li. “We really appreciate the community’s support.”

“The reality is that Brianna is a two-time world championship athlete and she’s done her school and the community proud and we just want to thank the community for its help over the last two world championships,” added White.

“This isn’t our first round of fundraising and it’s really awesome that the city of Vernon and the business community backs our local athletes, so we just want to say thank you.”

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Brianna Li, black belt, and coach David White. (Photo contributed)

Brianna Li, black belt, and coach David White. (Photo contributed)

Brianna Li sparring with 11 time world champion Carl Van Roon. (Photo contributed)

Brianna Li sparring with 11 time world champion Carl Van Roon. (Photo contributed)

Brianna Li attended her first World Championships as part of Team Canada in 2017. (Photo contributed)

Brianna Li attended her first World Championships as part of Team Canada in 2017. (Photo contributed)