What a ride! Thank you to everyone who supported Rafa in his run for Gold at the IFMA Youth World Championships in Bangkok! Unfortunately, Rafa lossed a hard and closely fought match with the Turkish athlete. However, he proved he had the maturity and drive to compete at this level and represented his country with pride.
A short recap:
The championships were an amazing time to get to know fellow Canadian athletes and coaches. Thank you to Kalsamrit, Siam No 1 Quebec and Redemption for raising such a great group of kids and fighters. The bonds that they built were heart warming to witness.
Other highlights include training with and meeting Attachai Fairtex (who paid special attention to Rafa), Jean Charles Skarbowsky, Saenchai, Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee, Sangtiennoi Sor Rungrot and seeing Buakaw and Superbon on stage.
We got to go on a river cruise around Bangkok and see a live stage show as well.
Rafa adhered to a B-Elite diet as instructed by Ken Sylvan, in order to maximize his energy and minimize his weight. This brought Rafa down from a registered weight class of 46 kg to 44 kg. In fact, the diet almost dropped him to 42 kg. We ended up keeping him at 44kg where he was comfortable.
Rafa first drew Nigeria. We showed up ready to fight, but Nigeria was a no show and so Rafa "won" by walk over. He was frustrated that he did not get to fight.
Rafa was matched against Turkey on the following day, who had stopped his previous opponent with ease. Rafa did not let this phase him, and fought with confidence. He started slow and lossed the first round. With a growing pace, he was able to draw the second round in the eyes of most judges (a fifth pushed it towards Turkey). Finally, Rafa came alive in round 3 and dominated. Unfortunately, the shift in momentum came too late and he lossed a decision.
We are beyond proud of his growth and performance this tournament, and can't wait to see him bounce back even stronger.