Kyle Kacher wins gold medal at USA Taekwondo Junior Olympics

Kyle Kacher, 15-year old student at C. Milton Wright High School, won gold last week at the USA Taekwondo Junior Olympics in Texas. Kacher competed in the Junior Sparring for ages 14-17 Light Middleweight division.

Kacher was first introduced to taekwondo in March 2011 when his mother, Holly Kacher, encouraged him to learn some self-defense skills. A quick study, Kacher showed significant promise early in his training and his master, Master Chang of US Taekwondo Academy, encouraged private lessons to further his abilities. By the winter of 2011 and after winning a number of individual matches, Chang felt Kacher should compete in the Junior Olympics.

The road to gold

After months of intense training and significant progress, with only five weeks prior to the Junior Olympics, Kacher broke his thumb during training. Doctors were skeptical that it would heal in time, but Kacher continued training and was prepared to compete regardless of his thumb. A little less than a week before the tournament the cast was removed and Kacher was deemed healed enough to compete.

The day Kacher weighed in for the competition he was nearly four pounds over the weight limit. Kacher learned he could compete in the higher weight class, where there was only one competitor, which would have guaranteed him at least a silver medal. But Kacher wanted to compete in the original group that consisted of five competitors. After first running for nearly an hour around the convention center he discovered he had only lost about one pound. Returning to his hotel Kacher continued working out on the treadmill and elliptical machines for another two hours. Kacher needed to be less than 68 kilograms. He weighed in at 67.9 kilograms with competition set for the next day.

Three matches

Taekwondo matches consist of three rounds and competitors are given points for various hits performed. The competitor with the most points at the end of three rounds wins.

Kacher's first two matches were both stopped in the third round, based on the rule that once a competitor exceeds his opponent by 12 points they are declared the winner. Kacher won his first two matches 13-1 and 14-0.

His third match was a much greater challenge. Not only was he fighting the prior year champion, his opponent was able to rest between matches and watched Kacher compete in his second match. Kacher was undeterred. After two penalty points were awarded to his opponent and experiencing a third round kick to the mouth after the referee had paused the match, Kacher won with a score of 4-2, earning him the gold medal and national champion status.

Kacher's father, Wayne Kacher Jr., was at for the performance.

"I couldn't be prouder, this was a hard fought road to get here and he was absolutely determined to see it through. A great experience; a worthy national champion," Wayne Kacher Jr. said.

"This was very exciting and I'm extremely appreciative of the support of my friends and family," Kyle Kacher said. "Without their encouragement and that of my trainers at US Taekwondo Academy, this never would have happened. Looking forward to next year's competition."

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