FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2019
Local Martial Artist with Down Syndrome Becomes World Champion
BURNABY, BC – 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 earlier this month 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, winning two gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. As the one-man Canadian team, Darryl placed fourth among all nations and quickly became a fan favourite.
“Canada was well-loved and other countries chanted ‘Canada!’ every time Darryl went on the mats,” says his father Darius, owner of DSA Taekwon-do. “Darryl made lots of new friends from other countries and hopefully he can make it to the next one in the Netherlands in 2021.”
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, 19, has completed years of speech therapy at DSRF, as well as participating in the popular Music in Motion program. Through his work at DSRF, Darryl has begun to speak more and become better able to vocalize his thoughts. He has become more confident and increasingly independent, making his own decisions and learning how to use the transit system.
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 championships and experiencing what we just did.”
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.