16-year-old Airdronian Emily Vigneault admitted she was very surprised when she was invited to the 2023 Canada Winter Games, which are taking place in Prince Edward Island next month, especially considering that when she was invited, she had yet to get into the boxing ring.
"It was probably someone who saw me sparring or saw me [compete] in previous Muay Thai fights and heard that I went into boxing," she said. "And I said I'm definitely going into the Winter Games because I feel like if I put a lot of time and a lot of effort into it - I could definitely bring back the gold for this huge event."
Three years ago when she started Muay Thai, Vigneault decided that she wanted to transition into boxing, a decision that was well worth it, as she immediately fell in love with the sparring sport. Even though she said that she prefers boxing to Muay Thai, she was still able to achieve quite a few remarkable accomplishments as a Muay Thai fighter. She travelled to Thailand for the International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur (IFMA) Youth World Championship where she would place second in the tournament. She was ten years old at the time. But Vigneault said that the trip offered more than just a win in the sporting arena, she said she was also able to
"Outside all the combat stuff, I loved seeing people's lifestyle in Thailand - everybody there was so kind. I visited a lot of temples. I just loved being there to experience that."
When she was 12, she would compete in the 2017 World Youth Muay Thai Championships, where she bested the Canadian national champion. But even with so many accomplishments at such a young age, Vigneault is certain boxing is the niche where she has had the most fun.
"I like being in the moment. Even when you're sparring. It's just so much fun," she said. "Or when you're on the punching bag, hearing the sound of contact - you're just doing your thing."
Vigneault described the Canada Winter Games as akin to the Olympics, which means that there are some nerves as she gears up to travel to the east Coast in a few weeks, however, considering she debut in Medicine Hat at the Silver Gloves competition earlier this month ended in a pair of victories, she is also very excited to get into the ring and do what she does and loves the most. If she does bring home the gold from P.E.I. next month, Vigneault said that it is not the only gold she is dreaming of, as she would like to compete in the Golden Gloves competition come this April.
And while the Bert Church High School student may spend quite a bit of her time training, she said she does find time for other things too.
"I like spending a lot of time outside still being active, even though it is fun to have those days where you're sitting down and not doing too much. But I find myself being happier when I'm outside."
The Canada Winter Games will start on February 18, 2023, and run till March 5.
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