By Ryan McKinnon
Vic Costa is the owner of K1 Kickboxing Academy in Burlington, Ontario, where he coaches one of Canada’s young standouts, Evan Gonsalves who competed in this year’s Pan Ams. Costa took on the role of head coach going into Argentina this year. His experience in international events made him an extremely valuable asset to the 10 Canadian athletes vying for gold at the last major IFMA event of 2018.
Below is an interview with Costa, where he describes the journey to Argentina, and some of his memories of the event.
Muaythai Canada: Can you tell us about the events that got you to Argentina. Talk about the financial challenge and how Evan qualified at the Canadian Nationals to make the team.
Vic Costa: The financial impact was not only travelling and the stay in Argentina but as a gym owner I needed to get coverage for the classes at the gym. Lloyd Reyes a fighter and instructor for K1 Kickboxing Academy took time off his day job to cover the gym day and night. This meant paying Lloyd accordingly. We hope to fund raise in 2019 to make up for the expenses both Evan and I incurred.
Muaythai Canada is a well organized and professional organization that runs only extraordinary events, the Nationals were no different. Evan Gonsalves, K1’s athlete who participated in Argentina was successful at the Nationals as the result of a walkover.
MTC: What were some of the physical challenges you had to overcome getting to the event? And what was the overall plan for the team before the tournament began?
VC: Monday Dec 10, 2018: When we arrived in Argentina I had no luggage including the bags that carried the elbow and shin pads for the Panamerica Muaythai competition. Since the luggage tags were not in the tracking system, this meant Air Canada never loaded my luggage in Toronto, despite confirming that the luggage was being transferred to Argentina after our connecting flight in Brazil.
After contacting Air Canada they confirmed that the luggage would arrive Tuesday Dec 11 at 1:30pm, however they could not tell me if the luggage would be transferred to my hotel or if I needed to go and clear my bags with customs.
After a few extremely stressful conversations with the airline carriers over a 24 hour period, I made the 45 minute trip to the airport myself on Tuesday, to discover my luggage was sitting at the GOL check-in desks and I was able to just walk up and take the bags. You can not imagine my relief that the elbow and shin pads for the entire event were now here. I was equally happy to see my corner gear and clothes.
Tuesday Dec 11, 2018: When the majority of the Team had arrived in Argentina we took time to break some bread (veggies for the athletes that needed to watch their weight) as a team. This is important rapport-building for the team, especially the coaches. At international events outside your own country, you need to consider the elevation, humidity and heat or cold or even the flight… all of these variables can effect each athlete in very different ways.
We trained at a local gym where the heat quickly presented challenges for a few athletes who began to struggle with the elevation and weather change. Having a couple of days to acclimatize prior to competing was in our corner, but we didn’t want to rely on this as our only answer. This is not to say that the athletes weren’t well conditioned. Every person’s body will react to elevation and temperature changes differently.
I organized an evening training session and discussed individuals plans to ensure that the cardio was not going to be a weakness for any of the athletes. We then focused on visualization, seeing the win.
One major challenge I observed was that the junior ring was 16 feet maybe and this is a very small ring for our athletes, when an athlete is use to space to set up their shots or kicks that can be a big hurdle and this was only exposed when we arrived for weigh-ins the night before bouts were to commence. For our juniors this meant competing in what felt like an inner-tube! With Evan as our only Junior athlete competing in this ring, we worked on techniques he needed to concentrate on, tailored specifically to the different ring dimensions.
MTC: Overall, what is your impression of the event from your unique perspective?
VC: At the heart of this team was the respect and true honour each of us had in representing our country. As head coach, this was the common goal that I quickly recognized and as this goal was one I deeply shared, it was easy to nurture it in our athletes.
With each of our hearts and soul filled with pride and passion to do our best, it fostered the success of each athlete. Each athlete battled round after round leaving every ounce of energy and strategy in the ring. Listening to Darwin and myself in the corner or on the side assisted with the success of the athletes. As coaches we are the eyes of the athlete when they are in the ring. We see holes and weaknesses that you can not easily see when you are in the ring in the middle of the round.
Knowing how to corner athletes that in some cases you have only seen fight was the first question I needed answered. As a coach I need enhance strengths and protect weaknesses, this starts with giving the athlete the rest and tools they need in the 60 seconds we have between rounds. Imagine the anxiety I could create if I try to force a fighter to sit in the corner when they want to stand or give them water when they prefer to rinse not drink?
The objective in the 60 seconds is to state which techniques are working (pump up your athlete) let them know their opponent’s weaknesses, and the advantages that your athlete is not utilizing. Most importantly is to know if they won or lost that round. If an athlete goes into the third round having lost a round they need to know it’s do or die.
MTC: Any final thoughts on your experience?
VC: It was truly my honour to stand beside each of these athletes. Thank you to all the full time coaches of these athletes. Your hard work and dedication was evident in your athlete’s performances.
Vic Costa of K1 Kickboxing Academy in Burlington, and Darwin Miranda of Krudar in Toronto are two exceptional international coaches. At the Pan Ams in Argentina this past December, they coached our Canadian athletes to 4 golds, 3 silvers, and a pair of bronze medals, as well as the silver medal for team performance. We are lucky to have such passionate and dedicated coaches leading our athletes to success in international competition.
Ryan McKinnon is the host of The Bloody Ballet Podcast and website, found at www.thebloodyballet.com.