Taekwondo is first team named to the Paris 2024 Canadian Olympic Team

A team of two athletes–Skylar Park and Josipa Kafadar–will represent Team Canada in taekwondo at Paris 2024. Taekwondo is the first sport to officially nominate its team that will be a part of the broader Canadian Olympic Team this summer, with many sports to follow in the coming weeks.

Park, who competes in the women’s -57kg event, is headed to her second Olympic Games. The 24-year-old will be seeking to improve upon her quarterfinals appearance at Tokyo 2020. Park, who entered her Olympic debut as the third seed in her weight class, says that she learned a lot from the experience. Post-Tokyo, she prioritized her mental game, working with both her dad–who is also her coach–and a sports psychologist on how to handle the intensity that comes along with a major Games.

Photo by Darren Calabrese/COC

Park had a stellar 2023 season, winning gold at four different events, including her first career World Taekwondo Grand Prix victory and the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. The valuable ranking points she earned helped her finish in the top-five in the World Taekwondo Olympic Ranking in December, securing her spot in Paris.

The gold at Santiago 2023 was particularly meaningful to Park, whose Chilean roots on her mother’s side gave her a special connection to the competition.  Taekwondo runs in Park’s family, which includes 16 black belts. In addition to her coach and father, Jae, she was joined in Santiago by younger brothers Tae-Ku and Braven. Tae-Ku will travel to Paris with Skylar to act as her training partner, as he did for Tokyo 2020.

“Having the honour of representing Canada on any stage is always a huge honour, but to have the opportunity to represent your country on the biggest sporting stage in the world is so special,” said Park. “My team and I are extremely proud and grateful to have qualified for our second Olympic Games. I cannot wait to fight for the top of the Olympic podium this summer in Paris!”

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Kafadar will make her Olympic debut in the City of Light this summer. The 23-year-old took gold in the -49kg division at the Pan American Qualification Tournament earlier this month to clinch her ticket to Paris.

Photo by Leigh Macarie

Earlier this year, she won bronze medals at the Canada and US Opens, after winning gold at the Luxembourg and British Opens in 2023. She advanced to the quarterfinals of the inaugural Junior Pan American Games which were held in Cali, Colombia in 2021, three years after winning 49kg silver at the 2018 World Taekwondo Junior Championships.

“Making the Canadian Olympic team has always been one of my biggest dreams,” said Kafadar. “I’ve wanted it for as long as I can remember. The idea of representing my country at such a huge event makes me feel incredibly proud and motivated. Now my Olympic dream will become reality at Paris 2024.”

Taekwondo has been on the Olympic programme since Sydney 2000. Team Canada athletes have won two Olympic taekwondo medals – a bronze by Dominique Bosshart at Sydney 2000 and a silver by Karine Sergerie at Beijing 2008.

Taekwondo will take place August 7 to August 10 (Day 12 to 15) at the Grand Palais. Kafadar will compete on August 7 (Day 12) while Park will compete on August 8 (Day 13).

Team Canada Taekwondo Athletes at Paris 2024:

Josipa Kafadar (Burnaby, B.C.) – 49kg
Skylar Park (Winnipeg, Man.) – 57kg