Olympic Gold Medalist
From the time I first saw Power Rangers when I was 4 years old, I wanted to be like them. My favorite character was Tommy the Green Ranger, for those of you who know how awesome this show was when it first came out. The first thing that came to my mind to be like Tommy was learning martial arts and winning the Olympics. I begged my mom all the time to start taking lessons. Since she thought that age 4 was a bit too young to start any type of contact sport, she told me that if in a few years I still wanted to go she promised she would take me.
When I was 7 and still watching my favorite show, my mom finally said to me she would sign me up. My best friend at the time was already training in a local Tang Soo Do school and it just so happened that “bring a buddy night” was coming up. I went with her for free and tried out a class. I had a blast and enrolled right then and there. When I was 11 years old I received my First Degree Black Belt. I was so excited I cried at the ceremony and snuggled in with my brand new Black Belt at bedtime. During this time, we switched from Tang Soo Do to Tae Kwon Do. Tang Soo Do was not and still isn’t supported in the Olympic Games. Plus, Tae Kwon Do is a full contact sport where as Tang Soo Do was focused more on traditional point sparring, forms, breaking and weapons forms. While it scared me to transition to such a more aggressive sport, I learned to really like full contact fighting.
As I grew older, I matured more and more as a fighter and a person. I started training with higher quality trainers and athletes as I started to win bigger and harder competitions. One thing I don’t agree on the majority of my experiences in Tae Kwon Do was the event of having to cut weight, starting at 14 years old. At the time it seemed like a great idea, and this is unfortunately where I was misguided. We thought it was more important to fight easier opponents than it was to be at my natural weight and fighter harder opponents. Eventually, there came a time where I just could not get the last pound off. I was 15 years old, and weighed naturally 125 lbs. My trainer had me cutting down to 112 lbs. Thank fully enough, the last pound wouldn’t come off and I was sick of being a prisoner to losing weight. So I said I was done with it, and moved up a division. Although I didn’t win against the one person I was trying to avoid, I only lost by one point when the score was 13-14. That’s a very high score for Tae Kwon Do, Most fights rarely exceed 7 points for one fighter. In my case, I did a great job by letting go and gaining the confidence I needed to fight a senior (older than 18), at 15 years old. Later on in my career I did eventually win against this girl.
My career really started to shoot off when I was 16-17 years old, shortly after making the Junior National Team 2 times, and the AAU National teams 3 times, I was getting really good. I was homeschooling to train everyday 3 times a day, in all areas of cross training (swimming, track, etc) as well. I began winning at overseas competitions like the German and Dutch Open and the Junior Pan Am Games, and winning against the top players and National Team Members in the United States. Eventually I went on to win 3rd place at Olympic Team Trials when I was 17. This ultimately means I was the 2nd alternate for the USA for the 2008 Olympics.
Although I was devastated at not making the Olympic team that year, I knew I was young had many more chances at making that team. 3 Years later it was time to place at Nationals to qualify for the next Olympic Trials for the 2012 Olympics. Little did I know, my hamstring was on the verge of snapping, and snap it did. I was warming up and hitting pads before the fight that I needed to win to qualify. I didn’t even get a chance to enter the ring before injuring myself very badly. I hit the ground in excruciating pain. I went to medical and right away I was told I tore my hamstring. I attempted to fight, I actually did score a point and only lost by one point to someone who I knew I was going to beat. I had already won against her before. The only thing to prevent that from happening was exactly what happened, I got severely injured.
Currently, I recovered my leg and I am back to training once again and shooting for the next Olympic Trials for the 2016 Olympics. So if you here my name in 2016, you will remember reading this story on what I had to go through to make the Olympic Team, and what is possible if you don’t give up. I hope you all enjoyed my story and I hope you can continue to follow my story in the future. Wish me luck!
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