Photo by Milagros Malave Photography.

Ava Injaty ‘26 won a gold medal at the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) 2023 World Championships in Finland in September, and now she plans to help other students achieve their athletic dreams through a nonprofit organization.

Ava had the honor of being the only world champion from Team USA at the ITF 2023 World Championships. However, this wasn’t her first international win. In 2022, she won a bronze medal at the Taekwondo World Cup in Slovenia. The weight of these wins took a while to fully hit her; now that they have, she’s proud to represent her country as a Taekwondo champion.

At each of these international competitions, Ava faced off against top competitors from around the world. Her journey to competing started in 2014, with intensive training starting last September. While Taekwondo led to her becoming an award-winning athlete, she started out practicing the sport for similar reasons to most young girls who take up martial arts.

“While I don’t exactly remember the beginning of my Taekwondo journey as a second grader whose only thoughts were of ways to annoy my siblings and hanging out with my friends at school, it was mainly sparked by both of my parents' wishes for me to be able to defend myself,” says Ava.

Creating a Taekwondo Nonprofit

Ava and her twin brother, Ryan—both certified instructors with the ITF—are now working together to create a nonprofit organization that helps students from underserved communities learn Taekwondo. Ava and Ryan plan to teach classes twice a week as a way of giving back to the community.

The plan is to launch the school in the spring of 2024 before Ava goes back to training for her next competitions in Argentina in 2024 and Croatia in 2025. She is currently in contact with her middle school and Presentation High School to work out the logistics of starting programs at various locations.

Becoming a Taekwondo Champion

While Ava had to beg her parents to allow her to go to her first international competition, her entire family is now glad she did. This summer, she had the opportunity to train in Western Ukraine. As an athlete, she felt reasonably safe in the country, but she did experience heightened security measures on the Romanian and Ukrainian borders.

In the 10 days of intensive training with the Ukrainian National Coach, she acquired a wealth of knowledge and had the opportunity to meet several people she hopes to keep in touch with for years to come. She believes anyone with similar dreams shouldn’t hesitate to pursue them.

“Taekwondo has opened me up to so many more opportunities and helped me grow more, both as a person and as an athlete, than I could have ever imagined,” says Ava. “If you actively seek out your goals, the worst thing that can happen is not fulfilling them. However, it is always better than not looking at all.”

One of the opportunities Ava has enjoyed the most is traveling internationally to train and compete. Last year she traveled to Slovenia, now one of her favorite places she’s visited, for the ITF World Championships. This was her first ever international experience as a professional athlete, and she won a bronze medal. From the beginning of her competitive journey, Ava has had support from her family and the Presentation community.

Photo by Milagros Malave Photography.

Support from the Presentation Community

Managing tests, tournaments, practices, and homework has been challenging for Ava, who considers herself a “chronic procrastinator." With the support of her teachers, staff and counselor at Presentation, Ava has mastered the art of multitasking and finding balance, maintaining a 4.3 GPA. Even though things can be daunting at times, Ava wouldn’t trade her life for anything.

At Presentation, Ava feels like she is surrounded by people she can rely on, both in teachers and fellow students. Her favorite subject in school is biology, and she plans on going to medical school and aspires to become a doctor after she graduates. During her limited downtime, she enjoys spending time with friends, listening to music, and binging her favorite dramatic TV shows. She also volunteers with the senior community a few times a month.

Right now, Ava looks forward to getting more involved on campus, training for new tournaments next spring, and earning her 3rd degree black belt.

Students like Ava have plenty of opportunities to shine at Presentation, both inside and outside the classroom. With a focus on spiritual, academic, and emotional wellness, our students learn to do well and be well. Contact us today to learn more about why Pres might be the best fit for your student.