Martial artist Andrea Anacan’s fight for Olympic gold
Martial artist reveals how she almost gave up her beloved sport before qualifying for Tokyo
04 August 2021 5:00 p.m.
Three years ago, the parents of Olympic hopeful Andrea Anacan feared their daughter was too focused on the sport she loved to seek love in a different form.
By the age of four, she had fully engaged in karate and now competed in international competitions, but mom Mary Ann and dad Ellya wondered if it was time for their daughter to find a partner, s ‘install and have children.
“In my mid-20s, if I wasn’t doing a lot of karate, I would be at work or at church,” the 30-something Auckland told Woman’s Day.
“I haven’t had a boyfriend since I was 21, so my parents were worried. My mom would say, ‘I want grandchildren,’ and daddy sat me down for a serious conversation, saying I would be happier if I had a partner to share my successes with. “
Andrea finds it ironic that after meeting her boyfriend Matt Caitor and starting to wonder how much longer she could compete, her parents warned her not to be in too much of a rush.
“Now mom says to me: ‘Don’t have children yet because you have to make your dreams come true!'” Andrea laughs. “It’s such a change of pace, but the arrival of Matt really changed things. He says he will support me whatever my goals.”
Right now, this is taking part in the Tokyo Olympics, where Andrea will be the first person to represent New Zealand in karate, competing in the “kata” or choreographed discipline, rather than the combative form of combat, this Thursday.
Sport has really been a passion for a long time. Andrea started karate at the age of four, when Mary Ann gave her the choice between martial arts or ballet, secretly hoping that she would choose a tutu over a black belt.
“She was my oldest and I’m a girl,” admits 53-year-old Mary Ann. “But she never liked dresses. For her first birthday, I bought her a lace dress with a matching hat, socks and shoes. She wore it for about an hour and then she got it. removed. She blew out the candle on her cake in her diaper and her tank top! “
Risk of kidnapping The family lived in the Philippines, where kidnappings, pickpockets and thefts were rife, so Andrea chose self-defense over dancing for her own protection. She explains, “I went to a school that was barricaded by gates for security reasons and no one was allowed to come and pick you up unless it was your guardian because of the risk of kidnapping. There were a lot of thieves who would grab your bag or snatch jewelry. It happened to my grandmother.
When Andrea was 12, the Anacans moved to New Zealand in search of a more secure life, and her younger brother Angelo and younger sister Erika followed her into karate. Angelo eventually reached seventh in the world before retiring, while Erika is a former national champion.
The three siblings still teach karate to young people.
Andrea says: “In school, sport or art, mom and dad have told us, ‘Whatever you do, you have to do your best.’ We are very grateful to them. They have always supported me and my siblings. “
Mary Ann adds, “We told them you have to love what you do. There are going to be challenges, but when you get over that challenge, it’s a great feeling. Andrea is a very good performer. A very high level for herself.”
However, Andrea admits that she was planning to retire after the 2018 World Championships in Madrid. Placing seventh, the best result ever for a Kiwi athlete, she thought she would leave with a bang.
However, her partner Matt encouraged her to wrestle for the Olympics, a quest that saw her training for several hours a day while working in the family’s electronics repair business. say when not stuck in managed isolation after international competition.
Incredibly, until a few years ago, when she got help from Sports New Zealand, Andrea was fully funded by her family.
“Unlike some competitors, this is not my career,” she explains. “I’m not a professional. My parents provide me with food, accommodation and the rest to support me. It’s the sacrifice you make to qualify for the Olympics.
“My sensei told me about the world champions in Dubai, but I don’t think we can afford it – let’s do one goal at a time. My goal is to go to the Olympics, do my best and what whatever the Lord provides, we will take it. “
Before the 1.5m-high power plant left for Japan last Thursday, Mary Ann, Andrea and Erika spent a day relaxing with a massage, manicure and pedicure to try and alleviate the increased stress that all Anacans feel.
Family friends wanted to throw a viewing party, but since Andrea competes between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on August 5, the family will be watching at work instead – if Mary Ann can help but pace.
Although she trusts her daughter completely, she doesn’t want to be disappointed. Mary Ann says, “Every time I remember she was going to the Olympics, my throat is tied and my knees shake. As a mom, when my children’s hearts are broken, mine is broken.”
Meanwhile, for Meanwhile, for Andrea, there will be a day when she will give up competition, but she will never give up her craft. “I’m not going to quit karate as a whole – it’s a part of me and I love everything that comes with it.”