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Winnipeg Olympian gives back to community on road to 2024 Olympic Games

A local Olympian kicked off her path to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games Saturday, hosting a community event at the Taekwondo academy that’s helped get her to some of the sport’s biggest stages. 

Skylar Park held an open house at Tae Ryong Park Academy, coaching women and girls through some skills in the sport, speaking to them about her journey and encouraging them to set big goals as she gears up for her second Olympic Games this summer. 

“I’ve been wanting to get all the girls in my community together for a really long time and host an event,” she said. “The sport of Taekwondo has given me so much in my life and I just hope to share that sport with so many other girls and women and give back to the community.”

Park was born into a family of 16 Taekwondo black belts and said Saturday she’s been kicking before she could walk. 

She racked up major accolades this past fall, finishing in the top spot at the Pan American President’s Cup in Brazil, Taiyuan World Taekwondo Grand Prix in China and then the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. 

GOLD MEDAL: Canadian Skylar Park claims Pan Am Games Taekwondo gold in 57-kg category

Winnipeg’s Skylar Park captured the Taekwondo gold medal in the 57-kg category at the Pan Am Games from Chile.

She’s also one of the top-ranked competitors in the world at 57 kilograms. 

“I think I was just kind of born and destined to kind of do it for sure,” she said.

Children of all ages participated in Saturday’s event. (Prabhjot Singh Lotey/CBC )

Many of the youngsters who attended Saturday’s event walked away from the event feeling inspired. 

“When she was little, she had a dream to be in the Olympic Games and she worked hard and she accomplished her dream,” said 11-year-old Eshal Khan. “I feel proud that I know her.”

Others had a great time learning some of the Taekwondo skills. 

“My favourite part was the flying side kicks ,” said nine-year-old Harleen Sidhu. 

Steven Rivest started training at the academy when he was 13 and now works there. He’s known Park since she was crawling around the building. 

 “We always joked she was already kicking right out of the womb,” he said

Park said the biggest message she wanted to share Saturday was for people to dream bigger. From a young age, Park has had many people who have helped her achieve her dreams, then strive for greater ones, she said. 

“To share that with these girls and give them the confidence that in whatever they choose to pursue whether it be Taekwondo or a different sport or maybe music or whatever it is that they choose to do in their life, that they just dream big and just know that with hard work you can achieve anything,” said Park.

A Manitoba Olympian kicks off her journey to Paris by inspiring girls to dream big

Skylar Park, who competed in the Tokyo Olympics in Taekwondo, is kicking off her next Olympic run with an event honouring International Women’s Day. The 24-year-old took over her family’s martial arts academy in Winnipeg Saturday to teach the next generation of girl practitioners how she does it, before she sets off to Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

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