Darryl: Filipino Canadian with Down Syndrome Becomes World Champion

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  • Darryl Andaya is no stranger to extraordinary accomplishments. Through nine years of intense dedication and hard work at his family’s studio in Burnaby, he earned his black belt in taekwon-do – a lofty achievement made even more impressive by the fact that Darryl has Down syndrome.
     
    Darryl’s excellence in the martial arts propelled him all the way to New Zealand, where he represented Canada in October at the inaugural International Special Needs Taekwon-do Games. There, he made history by becoming one of the first ever Special Needs Taekwon-do World Champions.
     
    It was truly a remarkable event as 10 countries, namely: Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, Iran, Ethiopia, Russia, Malaysia, and England, all from different ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation) organizations, as well as the WT (World Taekwondo Federation), sent delegates to compete at this historic competition. For the first time the Taekwon-Do community, both Chang-Hon and Olympic style was united in a common objective: the provision of opportunities for people with Special Needs.
    The spirit of inclusion and support was evident in the air for the whole event as representatives from all countries show their support not only for their own athletes but also for their competitors from other countries. None more evident as when Mr. Darryl Andaya, Canada’s sole delegate immediately, became a crowd favourite after winning his Pattern competition. From then on, chants of “Canada! Canada!” would immediately start whenever he stepped on the mat. It was a huge morale boost for the delegates and a very spiritual experience for their supporters.
    Darryl competed in 4 of 5 events: Patterns, Mixed Abilities, Power breaking and High Kick, winning 2 Gold, 1Silver and 1Bronze, respectively. Team Patterns was the only event he didn’t compete on as a minimum of 3 competitors was needed.  Mr. Darius Andaya, V Dan, Darryl’s dad and coach, also received a gold medal for their excellent performance at their mixed abilities event. In the end, Team Canada was also awarded the 4th Best Country award; quite an accomplishment for a team of one. J
    The medals he earned in New Zealand are not Darryl’s only accolades of late. Before jetting off to the Games, he added another prize to his burgeoning trophy shelf: the 2019 George Klukas Achievement Award.
    Presented annually to a student of the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation by DSRF Board member George Klukas in recognition of significant improvement and success over the past year, the prestigious Klukas Award celebrates the achievements of an older teen or young adult with Down syndrome.
     
    Darryl’s growing communication abilities, social skills, decision making, and athleticism have helped him in his transition to adulthood and in his development as a martial artist. From an early age, his perseverance and strong spirit have been clear, and have enabled him to achieve things that other people never thought he could do.
     
    In addition to competing, Darryl also teaches taekwondo to young children, including children with disabilities.In conjunction with the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation, DSA Taekwon-do offers weekly classes for young people with Down syndrome. Darius hopes that many of these students will follow in Darryl’s footsteps.
     
    “Two years is a long time,” he acknowledges, “but if they stay motivated, I can see some of our students going to the next world championships and experiencing what we just did.” Mr. Andaya will be hosting the next BC provincials on May 9, 2020 and expects to have the Special Needs Division perform admirably.
     
    For more information on DSA Taekwon-do, visit https://dsataekwondo.com. For more information on Taekwon-do for individuals with Down syndrome, and other programs and services offered by the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation, visit http://DSRF.org.
     

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