Yoon Sang Ha
Taekwondo (2007)Yoon Sang Ha has often been on the medal podium in taekwondo, winning six Canadian championships, and representing Canada at important international meets, including the Pan-American Games, the world championships and at Cuba where he won a bronze medal at the Pan-American taekwondo tournament. He was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1972 and grew up there as a boy. While in elementary school, he began his formal taekwondo training with his father at home, carrying on a tradition which ran through the family. While at Bishop James Mahoney school, he was a starting player on the soccer team for four years, was invited to an under-17 training camp but passed on it because he was at a taekwondo tournament. Breaking the bricks is a strength display but basically taekwondo is renowned for physical kicking and punching, and is meant to develop the mind, body and spirit. Yoon won his first fin weight national championship in 1987, won the poomse national championships in 1990, 1993, 1997 and 1999, and won the fly weight title in 1996. An early international experience was at the Pan-American Games in Indianapolis in 1987 where he was the youngest male on the team. He lost to the eventual gold medallist. After competing in world tournaments in Spain in 1987 and Greece in 1991, he really hit his stride at the Pan-Am taekwondo championships in 1996. He was duly honoured in Canada as Taekwondo Canada male athlete of the year and nominations for Canadian athlete of the year and SaskSport male athlete of the year. The trip to Cuba was an exciting experience for Yoon and his mates on the Canadian team. There was much personal satisfaction when he won a quarterfinal match by a knockout, a rare event in his weight class and on the international scene, and he finished with a bronze medal, the only Canadian to capture a medal. Yoon received his sixth Dan black belt in 2003, the youngest person to reach that level in North America at the time, and he was also another world championship event. Yoon and Ella married and live in Calgary where he owns a successful martial arts school and remains active as a coach and a taekwondo association coach and executive.