9-Year-Old Errin Cann Impresses In Wushu

[Written by Stephen Wright]

Errin Cann is at the “front of the pack” of Bermuda’s wushu athletes hoping to qualify for the Youth Olympics in Dakar, Senegal, in 2026.

Garon Wilkinson, the Bermuda Sanshou [Wushu] Association president, said it would be a significant achievement for a Bermudian to compete at the Youth Olympics in wushu, which will make its first appearance at the multi-sport event.

Cann, who is nine years old, exceeded Wilkinson’s expectations at the recent Phoenix Wushu Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona, winning the Jianshu [straight sword] division and claiming silver in the Changquan [longfist],

She was also impressive at the United States Wushu Mock Trials, held at the same venue, coming fourth in Jianshu and ninth in Changquan.

It was the West Pembroke Primary School pupil’s first experience of competing overseas.

,[The BSA] is putting a lot of time and resources into Errin,” Wilkinson told Bernews. “She’s a lean kid, but her strength has improved. She exceeded my expectations; I was amazed.”

Wilkinson said Cann, who has been competing for slightly more than a year, is blessed with the natural attributes to excel at wushu taolu, the set routine component of the sport.

“Errin is at the front of the pack [to qualify for the Youth Olympics] because of her age and how easily she’s able to adapt to wushu taolu,” he said.

“We have a few others who have a chance [of qualifying]but realistically our best hope is with Errin.

“We would like more athletes from a support perspective training with her, but the reality is a lot of our guys do other sports like football and athletics, and it’s hard to convince their parents that this is a great opportunity.

“Errin and her support system have dedicated themselves to wushu. That’s all she’s doing now, and it shows.”

Funding from the Pan American Sports Organization via the Bermuda Olympic Association enabled the BSA to bring top Brazilian coach Adriano Lourenço da Silva to the island for three months last year.

He worked extensively with athletes hoping to compete in Dakar at the Youth Olympics in 2022 before being canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Da Silva held wushu sessions at BSA member associations, the Wing Lam Kung Fu School and Kai Yun Schaolin Academy. He also offered introductory classes for youngsters aged 5 to 10 and an Acrobatics for Martial Arts course for those aged ten and above at Aries Sports Centre.

Stephanie Lim and Nathan Andrus-Hughes from the Elite King Fu Academy in California continued Da Silva’s foundation work, delivering coaching sessions on the island from February to March this year.

“Wushu taolu is a sport you have to start learning at a young age when it’s easier to develop required strength and flexibility,” Wilkinson added.

“It’s a lot different to teaching traditional martial arts. It’s a sport, and you have to train the competitors like athletes, not martial artists.”

Cann, who trains under local coaches Jecoa Burrows and Kaelin Cox, spent two weeks developing her skills at the Elite Kung Fu Academy in California last summer and takes online classes delivered by Lim and Andrus-Hughes.

She will have at least three opportunities to qualify for the Youth Olympics at the Junior World Wushu Championships in 2022, 2024 and 2026.

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