Anthony Cappello, who trains at NDG’s Academie taekwondo Raymond Mourad under Master Mourad, had his shot at the Parapan Am podium cut short due to an injury suffered in his opening match at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games.
Cappello, who is ranked third in the world, received a bye for the round of 16 and began his first match in the round of eight against Geraldo Castro of the Dominican Republic. As is his style, Cappello came out strong, leading in points from the start but a kick to the head left Cappello unable to continue.
“It was in the best interest of the athlete’s health to withdraw from competition— Anthony is currently under concussion protocol by Team Canada and World Taekwondo and receiving medical treatment, and our focus now is a quick recovery,” Dr. Andrew Marshall, Chief Medical Officer for Team Canada, said in a statement.
Para taekwondo made its Parapan Am debut in Lima, a year before it joins the Paralympic program for the first time at the Tokyo Games, a goal Cappello is shooting for. “It is always a huge honour to represent your country,” said Anthony Cappello in an interview before leaving for Peru. “There are tons of emotions running through me, I am ecstatic, nervous, honoured, and most of all ready. This announcement means a lot to me and my family. You train so hard to get to this moment.” In Lima, Cappello competed in the men’s 61kg division in the K44 classification but is usually in the 61 kg K 43 division. The two classes were combined in Peru to deepen the pool of competitors. The 28-year-old Cappello was born with both his arms much shorter than average, his left arm didn’t have an elbow and he has two fingers on each hand, which placed him in the K43 class.
The road to Lima is one that had a couple of detours along the way, given the fact that Cappello first tried taekwondo at the age of nine but stepped away to participate in his other love — soccer. There was a return to taekwondo at the age of 16, and then back to soccer, but at the age of 20, he dedicated his time to taekwondo where he is now a second degree, almost third, black belt.
“I love using my legs, the speed and challenge of soccer,” said the former LaSalle Rapides player. “But when I turned 20, I wanted to push myself and be challenged individually.”
Under the tutelage of Master Mourad, Cappello rose through the ranks, becoming the best in Canada and among the top competitors in the world.
“Anthony has a great work ethic and dedication,” Raymond Mourad said of his pupil. “He is also a great role model and mentor as others see what hard work and dedication can produce.”
Cappello has earned bronze and silver medals at several prestigious international events and is the silver medalist from the 2019 world championships.
“It is an individual discipline but I couldn’t accomplish what I have without Master Mourad and the support of my family and girlfriend,” he said. Next on the agenda, Cappello plans to compete at the European Open in November, and then aims to qualify for Tokyo 2020, where Para taekwondo will make its Paralympic Games debut.