LETHBRIDGE – If you’re walking through the halls of the Lethbridge College Physical Education building and you hear a constant, echoing thump, chances are it’s Coby Iwaasa practicing for his next big game. Not long ago, U-18 Junior Boys National Racquetball Champion learned that he would be competing in Mexico at the 2014 Pan American Sports Festival.
“I was very thrilled,” said Iwaasa. “Almost jumping you could say.”
Iwaasa plays racquetball; a fast paced sport that requires just as much brain power as physical agility. “It’s very reaction based, because you only have so many seconds before you have to choose what shot to hit for the appropriate time. So you have to be able to think really quickly.”
Early Tuesday morning, Iwaasa is catching a flight to Mexico to meet up with the rest of Team Canada, and size up his opponents. It’s going to be one of the biggest competitions he has been a part of.
“This is going to be a lot bigger than most tournaments I’ve ever been to,” said Iwaasa. “[It’s] like all these countries coming together and each one is sending their best players to come. So it’s going to be tough competition no matter who you play.”
The 2014 Pan American Sports Festival is a massive event, with over 4,500 athletes from different countries competing in over 20 different events. It’s essentially a precursor to the 2015 Pan-Am Games which are to be held in Toronto, and a way to prepare some athletes for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The high level competition doesn’t seem to phase Iwaasa, who at the young age of 18 has already had plenty of experience on the world stage. And he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
“Starting September, I go on a bus and we’re just going to go from California, all the way to Chicago, down to Mexico and back up to Minneapolis. It’s going to be just tournament after tournament and that’s the next step.”
Even with so much already accomplished in his young racquetball career, Coby Iwaasa still has a clear goal in Mexico.
“My goal is to win, just like everyone else there. I feel like I’ve trained hard and I’ve been training well. All that’s going to build up to this tournament, so I’m very confident.”