Caleb Ko was inspired watching the archery on display in the film Avatar.
After viewing the movie, the Newmarket resident said he gained an appreciation for shooting bows. About four years ago, he decided to take up the challenge and join the local archery club.
“It was something I like doing very much,” he said. “But also, relationships with friends, coaches, as well as a place to be able to feel proud of my achievements.”
The Town of Newmarket honoured 16-year-old Ko this month for his achievements in the 2022 Ontario Summer Games, where he earned a team silver medal and two individual medals, gold and silver. The member of the York County Bowmen was also recently named to the zone team for the upcoming Ontario Winter Games in February, where he will vie for medals again.
Ko said the honour was not something he expected.
“That was definitely a welcome surprise,” he said. “It was definitely something I’ve never experienced before, meeting people with high status.”
Coach Allen Tsang said seeing his students progress and being able to make the zone team spurred him to reach out to municipalities about honours, with Newmarket obliging.
“I’m a firm believer that recognition should be deserved,” Tsang said. “Running my program, I’m seeing all my students meet their own personal goals … I’ve definitely seen progression, I’ve seen him mature and become more focused.”
“This is an amazing achievement,” Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said about Ko’s medal-winning performances.“Certainly representing Newmarket very, very well and looks like an incredibly strong future for this young man ahead.”
Ko said consistency has helped him excel, finding time to practice three to four times a week. He also credited his coaches for helping him develop his game.
Tsang said Ko has found a “sense of purpose” in competing, and that Ko becomes more serious in the moments of competition. He said Ko became determined to break a score of 160.
“Ever since then, you’ve been trying to push your score even higher and higher,” he said. “As a coach myself, I find helping young adults find their own personal goals, sport or otherwise, is very rewarding.”
Competing in the Summer Games was a significant event for Ko, the biggest competition he had ever participated in at the time.
“I felt a little nervous from the atmosphere,” he said. ”But it was also a lot of fun.”
Ko is now preparing to compete in the winter games in Thunder Bay in February, working on his sport at the club facility in Whitchurch-Stouffvile.
“I know it will definitely be a lot of tough competition,” he said. “But I feel very confident going in because I’ve been training a lot. I’ve had some good practice.”
The Grade 11 Newmarket High School student still has two years at this level, and he hopes to continue with the bow in university.
“I’d like to continue improving.”