The martial art of Taekwondo is fascinating to watch – two people in the rink, each lightly bouncing in anticipation of the other person’s hit while trying to calculate their own strike. The energy that flows between the two competitors when they dance around each other, throwing jabs and kicks when they see the opportunity, is tense and powerful.
“My first Nationals was when I was 12 years old. I ended up getting first place.”
Tyler Muscat is a confident 19-year-old Taekwondo athlete who knows the sport well; he’s practiced it for the past 13 years of his life and he doesn’t see a near end. At the age of 10 he got into the competitive part of Taekwondo and has been going to competitions and traveling the world since. “My first Nationals was when I was 12 years old. I ended up getting first place, and from then on it just got better,” says Muscat, who lives just outside Toronto in Burlington, Ont.
He is heading to Russia’s 2015 World Taekwondo Championships later this week with promising ambitions of making it to the 2016 Olympic Games – he’s currently ranked 10th in the world for his weight division.
His speciality is his speed. Muscat says that in his division, 54kg – the lowest in the senior category, many of his opponents are tall and do this move called the cut-kick. What saves him is his speed and technique, they give him an advantage that makes it easy to get around the move.
Muscat isn’t too worried about the Russian Games right now, he sees them as more of an opportunity to grab points and advance his world rank. His confidence stems from two practices a day, each an hour and a half, and from his trainer Carla Bacco. He met Carla in the beginning of his Taekwondo career at his school Kicks for Kids, and has practiced there under her guidance since.
Kicks for Kids has become his current University/College since he decided to postpone his post-secondary degree indefinitely after high school. “There’s a perfect time for everything,” says Muscat, “I’m trying to focus on the main things right now. School is always there for you.”
When he decides to return he wants to pursue a career in marketing (experience with interviews and advertising himself as an athlete is his first taste in the line of work) and complete his post-secondary education. “I don’t think I will ever stop Taekwondo, even if I was in school,” says Muscat. A constant quirk of his that has followed him through every country and competition is his familial support; while he appreciates his family’s help and encouragement he doesn’t allow them to go to his competitions. “I get nervous,” he says, “even Nationals in Toronto, I didn’t let my family come out to support me just because I’m particular like that.”
But whether he goes alone or not, Muscat’s confidence is unwavering and his world rank can prove it – coming back home to his family to celebrate the wins makes them that much sweeter.