Alexandra Benevides will be ready.
Although it was more than a week before the 13th annual Xavier Taekwondo Club tournament, the look in her eye before a recent training session reflected a high level of focus and preparation.
“I like them a lot,” the 13-year-old said, when asked if she enjoyed showing her skills in competition.
“I am really, really competitive and I love to challenge myself,” she added, with a wide smile.
Benevides, who has participated in the sport for almost three years, will be one of the members from the Antigonish-based club competing in the home tournament, which is expected to attract 120 to 140 athletes from across the Maritimes.
The action will take place Saturday, Sept. 28, at East Antigonish Education Centre Academy in Monastery.
“I love everything about it,” Aidan Benoit, 11, said, when asked about his four years in taekwondo.
The passion in his voice reflecting that love, he added he was excited about having the opportunity to show his skills and compete in front of family and friends.
“I love punching,” Benoit said, when asked about his favourite part of the sport.
Mairi Lukeman leans toward the spinning roundhouse kick.
“No,” she said matter-of-factly, when asked if she gets nervous during competition.
Although only 11, she is a veteran, having participated in the sport for more than five years.
“I tried it and I really liked it,” Lukeman said, noting she followed in the footsteps of her older brothers, Mark and Jack.
It is safe to say taekwondo is a ‘family affair’ for the Lukemans; their father Greg has also been involved as an athlete.
It is the first taekwondo tournament of the season in the region.
“We have established a track record for having one of the best organized events,” head coach Jeremy Reeve said.
He expects 15 clubs to compete in the tournament.
“We will have nine referees at the event; five of them are nationally- trained and certified, which is a bonus for a local level event, having such high calibre and experienced officials,” Reeve said in a Sept. 18 email interview.
The event is a sparring competition.
“Athletes will compete in two or three rounds – depending on belt level – for 90 seconds each round,” he said.
Reeve explained athletes score points by landing kicks and punches to the body. Points are awarded for kicks to the head in the black belt division.
“The athlete with the most points, once the two or three rounds are completed, is the winner,” he said.
“If the match is a tie after time is completed, the athletes will enter overtime, where the first athlete to score is the winner.”
Athletes will range from white belts, which are just starting in the sport, to black belts, who compete at the highest level.
“It is going to be a great event,” Reeve said.
Competition, which is open to spectators, will get underway at 10 a.m.