She may have come to the sport at a late stage. But Andrea St. Bernard has made up ground quickly in taekwondo, winning a bronze medal for Grenada earlier this year at the United States Open in Las Vegas.
Now, she has her sights set on this year’s Central American and Caribbean Games in late July and the Pan Am Games in September.
These tournaments are very important to 30-year-old St. Bernard since excellent results will increase her chances of taking part in the 2012 Olympics in London.
And, even though she has spent most of her life in Canada, St. Bernard will – if she qualifies for the Olympics – be proudly representing Grenada where she spent the first two years of her life before migrating here with her family in 1981.
The part-time athlete and full-time lawyer makes no apologies for representing the Caribbean island.
“Canada has given me great opportunities, but I feel my obligation is to give back to Grenada,” she said. “I feel I can use my success in the sport to help raise the profile of taekwondo in Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean and also increase participation in the sport in the islands. That’s what this is all about.”
A graduate of Duquesne University where she was on a volleyball scholarship, St. Bernard was introduced to the sport in 2001 by family members. Her sister-in-law has a black belt while her aunt was introduced to the sport when she was in her 40s.
“My aunt was the one that really encouraged me to try the sport,” she said. “I however don’t like to do things recreationally. I like the competition and I made a commitment that after I graduated, I would try the sport, which is what I did.
“I met grandmaster Choung at his academy in Toronto and we clicked right away. The training is different but the benefits are traditional. Like every other thing, you have to put in the work to reap the rewards.”
When St. Bernard is not honing her taekwondo skills, she’s in her downtown McMillan law office where she’s an associate in the debt products group. Her practice focuses on assisting clients with domestic and cross-border debt financing transactions, including corporate lending, syndicated financing and asset-based lending.
She’s also involved in a variety of structured finance transactions with a particular emphasis on principal-protected note products.
St. Bernard completed her articles with the firm in 2006 during which time she was seconded to the Ontario Securities Commission’s corporate finance branch.
She was called to the Ontario Bar four years ago.
St. Bernard attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts to pursue an interest in vocal music.
“I spent a year there and enjoyed the experience, but I realized I was missing athletics,” she said.
She transferred to Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School and Albert Campbell Collegiate in her final high school year to pursue her passion for sport. She also represented the Scarborough Solars at volleyball, so it was not surprising when she was offered a full-scholarship to attend university in Pittsburgh.