What Happened when He Put his Heart and Soul into his Goal
22 May. 2017 – René Abou Halka is probably a name many of you haven’t heard of before. However, he is one you should watch out for. Most commonly known for his numerous achievements in the sport of taekwondo, René’s journey in the sport hasn’t always been a walk in the park. At just 19 years of age, this young fighter’s career was hampered by injuries.
Taekwondo athlete ever since his earliest days, René earned his black belt in 2010. That exact same year, he was crowned Lebanese Taekwondo champion for his weight category, retaining the title for 3 additional years. (from 2010 till 2013.) 2013 was a year filled with success for René to say the least. He grabbed the gold medal at the Bahrain Open winning his 4 games by gap (more than 12 points difference.) He clinched the title at the Arab Championship and took part in the Asian Championship. René was the IT boy of the sport as he was chosen to take part in a training camp in Thailand and he was picked again to participate in the Asian Games in China. “The Chosen One” you would think. In this tournament, he lost in the bronze medal game against the world champion that year.
However, sports showed their dark side to René as he had to face obstacles and hazards on and off the field. For René, these hazards became maybe a little too real. For him, these hazards became a career-altering reality. In the sports world, injuries are typical. But his were injuries that went beyond a sprained ankle and the common pulled muscle. His were injuries that put halt to his career right at his peak.
In 2014, René began experiencing knee problems, but he wasn’t going to let that get the best of him. He flew to Bahrain to participate in the Bahrain Open and won three fights to clinch the gold medal. What he wasn’t expecting though, was for his knee problems to get worse. As the state of both his knees aggravated, he found himself with his back against the wall. He tried to retain his title of Lebanese champion that year but injuries took their toll on him and he had to settle for silver.
This was it for René back then as he left the sport high and dry and decided to step down. But something in him kept calling him back for more. He couldn’t give up just yet. Despite a journey hindered by recurring knee problems, he decided to give himself another shot. 2 years later, in 2016, René participated in the Jordanian Open. Everything seemed to be going perfectly fine as he won his first fight by gap. But there’s no rest for the weary! As he was winning his second game, René tore his thigh; an injury that kept him out for 3 months, unable to practice or train. 3 months later, he started rehab and was ready to hit the gym again. As soon as he did, the taekwondo fighter participated in the Korean Ambassador’s Cup only to be disappointed once more. His body was failing him time and again and he was leading his biggest fight yet against it.
Not only did he injure one knee and tear a thigh, but he also injured his second knee and now he’s back again. Giving up is just not an option for René and he’s working his fingers to the bone in order to get back to where he was. Life is kicking him hard and knocking him down, but he is choosing to get up. He is choosing to fight.
This year, he played a championship and had to sit out the other one due to his recurrent knee problems. “The road to recovery is long, but patience is the key to win all battles. A lot of people would’ve given up had they been in my shoes. I did give up back in 2014, but I realized that this sport was part of me, and letting it go was not something I could do that easily. So I came back. I’m still not 100% fit, and it still pains me not being able to train like I used to, but I’m getting there, one step at a time.” René said.
The fighter enjoyed a glittering career that saw him represent Lebanon on the biggest regional and international scenes. In his pomp, he was undoubtedly one of the most feared fighters in world of Lebanese taekwondo. His record simply speaks for itself and he won’t let his body succumb to the crippling litany of injuries that have blighted his career. René’s road is far from over. His ultimate goal is to get back to where he was and be even better. The Tokyo Olympics are 3 years away and why not seeing him there. He is a great example of determination and ambition; one we should all live by.