Olympic Bound: Eastern Carolina Coach Fulfills Lifelong Dream

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Missy Cann is a six-degree black belt who has her sights set on another color.


But not as an athlete. Cann hopes to coach her way to a Taekwondo Olympic victory in China this summer. It's a long-time dream for the Havelock, North Carolina resident.

“One of my goals was to be an Olympic coach one day,” Cann told WITN-TV. “Finally, I reached that level in November 2007."

Cann is coaching Sebastien Konan for the games in Beijing. It's still surreal for the seasoned Cann, who also coaches the all-Marine Taekwondo team at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in Havelock.

"More and more I'm thinking I still can't believe this. Is it real yet?" Cann exclaimed.

The trip to China is a homecoming of sorts for Cann, who is from Taiwan. In 1988, she was an interpreter for the Chinese Taipei team at the games in Seoul, Korea.

Now her focus is on Konan, who is representing Cote d'Ivoire, a West African country.

“Mentally, I have to get him ready. Physically, he is already there, “ Cann told WITN-TV in February. “So I have to just maintain his skill. Work hard with him and make sure he's not injured."

Konan is confident that Cann can get him to the top.

"She's got a lot of experience,” he said. “She's helped a lot of athletes.”

There is no doubt immense pressure on the athlete. But the coach has a lot on the line too. Sometimes Cann would rather be on the mat, instead of the sideline.

"At this point, I'd rather be an athlete because as a coach, it’s very hard,” Cann said. “Because I am responsible for everything. I'm responsible for his weight. Responsible for his getting ready mentally and physically. And I have to make sure he is living well so it's a lot of things involved."

Now both coach and athlete will concentrate on teamwork, which might be the key bringing home the gold.