A drawing of the Heart & Soul team inside the gym. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Local foursome will attend nationals for muay thai

They will fight in Edmonton in late, vying for a spot on the national team

There’s a sign on the wall inside Heart & Soul Muay Thai that says, “It comes down to one thing: How bad do you want to do it?”

The answer is “a lot” for some members of a team heading to the nationals for muay thai in July. Four members are going to Edmonton for the WKA Canadian National Championships, held July 26 to 28, at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology – Westerra Campus.

The athletes will be vying as well for a shot to represent Canada at the world championships in the martial arts sport come November. In the meantime, they will be fighting against some of the other best athletes in the country in matches of three rounds, each two minutes long.

Initially, the team was going to send to half dozen members to the nationals in Edmonton, but a couple have pulled out. The four who will attend are Robert Campbell, Brenna Jardine, Amanda Rogers and Marlene Noel.

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At 10 years old, Campbell is the youngest member and is going to his first-ever tournament.

“This kid has everything,” says coach Sandra Bastian in an email. “Drive, determination and he wants it! His work ethic is better than most adults.”

He started going to Heart & Soul almost a year ago now, and typically visits the gym six days a week. He says he and his dad started watching kickboxing and later he started taking part in mixed martial arts before starting up with muay thai. To get ready for the big event in Edmonton, he is trying to take care himself and not eat junk.

Rogers will fight in the novice division and has been studying muay thai the last couple of years after looking for a new challenge. She says she loves the intensity of the sport. Bastian describes her as the hardest worker in the gym and has maybe missed five or six days since Heart & Soul opened. “Watching the improvement has been remarkable. I am excited to watch her grow as a martial artist and see how she performs in Edmonton,” the coach adds.

Noel also fights as a novice, and says she tries not to get pulled off her game by mental distractions. She works full-time and is a mom to two teenage girls, but she still finds the time to train. Bastian says in her last fight she came up a bit short so it will be good to see the improvements come July.

Finally, Jardine has been working to pick up her training for the nationals. She had studied karate for virtually her whole life and started in muay thai after moving to the community.

“Funny watching her compete, as when I first started training her she never wanted to fight. This is her second big tournament that she has entered. So much for not wanting to compete,” says Bastian.