Apparently it was time for a Marissa Meandro overhaul.
Though the local karate talent enjoyed a meteoric rise to success on both a provincial and national scale, earning appearances at international competitions with some regularity, her more recent forays in the sport had been good, but not great.
Combined with a dramatic shift in the sport to "scored judging" (its predecessor, in the world of karate katas, was one v one matchups where judges merely raised a flag to denote the superior performance), the scenario had caused Meandro to revisit her modus operandi.
"After senior nationals, I spoke with my coach down south, trained with her for a full week not long after the event," said Meandro, currently completing her grade 12 year at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School.
"When I went there for that week, we stripped down my katas and built me back up. There was a lot of rebuilding and re-learning, learning how to use my body more efficiently. I tend to be very powerful, very muscular, so we've been focusing on speed, being faster."
"A lot of my drills now are more endurance based, kind of like high intensity interval training." While her results, in 2018, may have been disapointing, especially when super-imposed over the challenging standards to which she had become accustomed, they did open the door for a number of changes.
"I am trying to get leaner, to get faster," said Meandro, a long-time student with Benoit's Martial Arts Studio in Sudbury. "A lot of preparation is going into this competition, from physical to nutrition to mindset." This competition is the Canadian Junior Karate Championships in Edmonton, an event where the Sudbury native has recorded some very good showings.
Yet still there are hurdles. "I tend to doubt myself, in general," she said. "It's something I am still working on, something I am learning a lot about. I've learned about mental preparation, which has helped these types of events, but not only with karate, but life in general. It's a process."
Finally, there is the very intricate nature of her sport, one more area on which Meandro must concentrate. "I've been spending a lot of time working on the finer details of my katas, fixing the little things in order to get better."
"And I need to focus on the feeling of wanting it, wanting it more than my competitors," she added. "Training for junior nationals, a switch has kind of turned on and I am focusing on the things I need to focus on."******************************
Competing in Pool 1 (five entries) of two earlier this week, Marissa Meandro posted a score of 22.74, agonizingly close to first place finisher Darbyanh Heenan of British Columbia (22.88). While the gold medal match-up would pit Heenan against Rose Rhéaume of Québec (1st in Pool 2 - 22.80), Meandro would draw Erika Chow of British Columbia (22.66) in the battle for third place.
The local product would be up for the challenge, bumping her score up to 24.24 in round two, a jump that ultimately was needed as Chow was nipping at her heels at 24.02. Though a bronze medal was not likely what she had hoped for, Meandro still has at least two years of U21 elibility remaining, and should garner even more valuable experience in open meets moving forward.