Several students of the U.S. Taekwondo Academy in Bel Air won a total of 24 medals at the 2012 USA Taekwondo National Championships.
This year's USA Taekwondo National Championships, commonly referred to as Nationals to those in the Taekwondo world, attracted over 6,000 competitors to Dallas from June 29 - July 4. Placing at Nationals is thought of by many as the highest achievement, next to the World Games and Olympics.
The local medalists were:
• Dominic Pasion, gold in forms, board breaking and sparring;
• Carrie Motes, gold in forms, board breaking and sparring;
• Christopher Gamboa, gold in board breaking and sparring;
• Madisyn Puangco, gold in sparring; Kyle Kacher, gold in sparring;
• Maiya Smith, gold in board breaking; Flora Lau, gold in sparring and bronze in board breaking;
• Erin Ferguson, gold in sparring and bronze in forms;
• Abigail Fisk, silver in board breaking and bronze in sparring;
• Dr. Martin Radvany, silver in forms; Madison Healey, silver in sparring;
• Kyle Legaspi, silver in sparring; Ayden Aguiniga, silver in sparring;
• Breanna Curran, bronze in sparring; Pierce Lloyd, bronze in sparring; and
• Frank Cho, bronze in sparring.
The rules of Nationals closely follow those at the Olympics. Taekwondo became a full medal sport at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Though the Olympic Committee currently only recognizes sparring as an official event, athletes may choose to compete in forms, board breaking and/or sparring at Nationals.
To qualify for Nationals, an athlete must attend a qualifying tournament held just a few times each year regionally. Qualifiers are filters so only the highest caliber athletes may move onto the National level. U.S. Taekwondo Academy coached 27 athletes at Nationals this year, collecting a school record of 24 medals. Thirteen of those are gold, five are silver and 6 are bronze medals.
"To say I am proud of my athletes is a huge understatement. Their hard work, blood, sweat and tears have earned them medals," Senior Master CJ Chang of U.S. Taekwondo Academy. Master CJ Chang started Taekwondo at the age of three.
U.S. Taekwondo Academy trains an elite competition team, called Team Chang. Team Chang's athletes range in age from six to over 40.
U.S. Taekwondo Academy is a family-owned and operated Taekwondo chain with locations in Bel Air, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University, and Fairfax, VA. USTA offers high-caliber Taekwondo instruction to students of all ages: children, teens, adults and families.