Local martial artist takes taekwondo title in sparring

Andrew Heiati won the gold in sparring at the American Taekwondo Association World Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Carmel Valley’s Andrew Heiati won three world titles in the three different events at the American Taekwondo Association World Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 13. Andrew, 17, won individual gold in sparring in the black belt 15-17 year old age group, gold in junior team sparring and gold in demo team.

Andrew began doing taekwondo in kindergarten, as part of an after-school program. He began competing at age 10 and taking his training more seriously at Church’s Martial Arts in Carmel Valley. The rising senior at High Bluff Academy now trains at Church’s five to six days a week for two to three hours a day.

Andrew and his mom Young Heiati at the ATA World Championships. Courtesy

“I’ve been competing for a long time, for almost seven years, and every year I come up short by one point. This was a year that I decided to change all that,” Andrew said. “I trained extremely hard to make sure I would be at the top, to not only win but to dominate.”

Andrew qualified for the ATA World Championships by racking up points in tournaments and landing in the top 10 ranking throughout the season. His goal for the tournament was to defeat all his opponents by scoring a lot of points and to have no points scored on him—Andrew won all four of his sparring matches and only had two points scored on him in the ring.

“I was close to my goal and in the end I felt like I had accomplished what I really wanted. I finally made it and it was a really amazing moment,” said Andrew, who won the championship match by throwing a double round kick.

In the demo team competition, Andrew competed with kids of all ages from his studio. In the junior team sparring competition, he was part of a team that included athletes from various studios all over the Southwest District, including Arizona and Nevada.

“I was very proud of everyone fighting on my team, they all worked hard and tried hard,” Andrew said.

There is little time for Andrew to rest as the new season began on July 14 and he is already training to compete and win in lots of tournaments and maintain his top 10 ranking.

“Now my goal is to stay on top for the whole year and do the same thing that I did this year. I’ll try to incorporate some different moves and techniques, get a little more fancy and unpredictable,” said Andrew. “Although this year, I was pretty unpredictable.”