Bronze medallist pursues gold medal effort at world championships in Spain

To say Maeghen Cotterill is a busy person would be an understatement.
She’s the mother to her two-year-old son, she manages and teaches at the dojo she owns, she runs a non-profit organization — and she’s also training for the World Karate and Kickboxing Council World Championships, to be held Nov. 1-5 in Cadiz, Spain.

An appearance last year at the World Championships in Portugal earned Cotterill a bronze medal in light contact ladies 55-kilogram kickboxing.

Leaner and brimming with confidence, she said she feels the gold medal is hers to win.

“I’ve lost a lot of the excess weight I had after my pregnancy,” Cotterill said. “Having gone through a world event, I’m a lot more confident and comfortable in the ring and know what to expect.”

She said the birth of her first child, Hadrian, is why she abstained from participating in the inaugural 2009 World Championships in Dublin, Ireland.

Still recovering from her pregnancy, she found it important to travel to Portugal last year after qualifying at the World Karate and Kickboxing Council provincials and nationals. Although it was tough shedding the last of her baby weight, Cotterill was determined to qualify.

Her husband, Ron Mistafa has seen the effort she puts in.

“It seems that it’s easy for her, but it’s not. She’s just driven to the point where she wants it so bad,” he said.
“More than anything, it’s the support she gets, both from friends and family.”

Performing in the under 60-kilogram division, she earned three gold medals at provincials for point sparring in sport karate, continuous kickboxing and traditional hard style forms.

The 2010 nationals saw Cotterill also capture a silver medal for continuous kickboxing and a fourth place finish in point sparring.  

Humility Goes Long Way

Despite the accolades, Cotterill remains humble and grounded about her performance.

“The fourth place finish actually was more important to me than the medals,” Cotterill said. “Karate was something I hadn’t really kept up on, so being able to go right back into that and do as well as I did was really good for me.”

In between qualifying appearances at the provincials and nationals – which saw six gold medals and one silver in the 55-kg division – Cotterill has also been training six days a week.

Despite the accolades, Cotterill remains humble and grounded about her performance. Photo by Trevor PresiloskBeyond weight and cardio training, part of Cotterill’s training regimen involves Muay Thai – a variant of kickboxing originating from Thailand that utilizes the elbows and knees. Earlier in the year, she also participated in a local amateur tournament. 

She said that the experience has improved her confidence and made her more aggressive, and that training in Muay Thai has helped round out her technical skills.

Her trainer of nine years, Corey McDonald, spoke highly of the benefits of Muay Thai.
“Absolutely, it has helped out with her punches,” McDonald said. “Maeghen has always been a natural kicker, so getting her to work on that has helped greatly.”

Her Muay Thai sparring partners have been males – some significantly bigger than her.  
“Going full contact against guys who are much bigger than her is a great mental boost for when she steps in to fight a girl who weighs 120 pounds,” McDonald said.

McDonald is very optimistic about Cotterill’s chances.

“Maeghen is probably one of the top three female fighters in Canada right now and hopefully in the world if all goes well,” he said.

A Full Schedule

Amidst everything else, Cotterill has also maintained her teaching schedule at 5 Elements Martial Arts, located in Avenida in southwest Calgary.

She has taught in some capacity since she was eight, as a senpai (the highest ranked student who does not have a black belt who assists the sensei) and later as a full-fledged instructor.

While she enjoys working with the children’s groups, she has a special fondness for working with developmentally challenged individuals.

Founded in 2009, the 5 Elements Athletic Foundation helps underprivileged kids with training and equipment costs, as well as arranging transportation to provincial, national and world tournaments. Last year, seven students accompanied Cotterill to the World Championships. This year, she’s looking to take nine students with her.

“I would say that every student who is going to Worlds has benefitted from the non-profit organization in some way. Training, hotel rooms, we do what we can to help,” McDonald said.

tpresiloski@cjournal.ca