Siddhartha Bhat gave up a lot to go to Russia’s 2015 World Taekwondo Championships. His rank, 13th in the world for Taekwondo, didn’t come easy – he has been practicing the sport since age three. Siddhartha, from Toronto and now 24-years-old, saw his friends go out to party during high school and go off to experience living alone in college, and realized he couldn’t do the same. A handful for his parents as a child, Bhat says he got into the sport to learn discipline and focus. He didn’t love – as perhaps every kid doesn’t – going to practices every week, but as the years passed he got better and better, and started to enjoy the game more.
“I never liked it growing up or intended to compete in it,” he says. Bhat practiced under Master Young Su Choung at Young Choung Taekwondo, one of the top Taekwondo schools in Toronto. He says his Master started entering him into competitions even when he was a green and blue belt because he was constantly winning.
His years of training and sacrifice paid off. Bhat has travelled the globe, has met people and has seen places his friends could only dream of – and he’s done it all doing something he loves. He’s been competing at an international level now for the past 10 years. The Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, are just one more step towards his ultimate goal: a spot at the Pan American 2015 games, and later, a spot at the Olympics. His training spans from two to three times a day, and anywhere from one and half hour to three hours practices. The better part of each practice is focused on becoming more flexible. Bhat says his flexibility is not up to par with his standards because the game itself has changed.
Growing up, the focus of the game was on speed and technique, but now the focus has shifted towards high kicks and more flexible abilities. Those abilities will earn him points in the competition, since each move has a different value – a high kick for example is worth three points, quite a bit for a single move. But Bhat has advantages in other areas, he is very fast, and has great manoeuvrability: something very important in Taekwondo.
When he’s not practicing Bhat spends time with his girlfriend and his friends by either going to movies, hanging out or playing some sports – luckily his Taekwondo skills give him a bit of an advantage in sports. “Especially basketball,” he says, which he’s frequently played through out his life. He has a very supportive family behind him; his mom, grandmother and friends are always cheering from the sidelines, and his mom usually attends all his International competitions.
Bhat has won multiple competitions during his life, including Dutch Open and German Open, and has competed in four Grand Prix’s; each event adds points to his name. But Bhat says the wins are just stepping stones. If he wins the World Championships in Russia he gains 120 points, enough for him to get a spot at PanAm. In Russia though, especially in Chelyabinsk, Bhat says that the air is more polluted, making it harder to breathe as a foreigner. The Russians are used to it, but he says he’ll have to stay inside most of the time so he won’t jeopardize his health.
“I feel like I was born to do this,” Bhat says, “I love basketball I really do, but I was born to do this.”