The U.S. taekwondo team will look to continue its Olympic medal haul at the 2012 Games. The United States has medaled in the sport of taekwondo in each of the five Olympic Games that it has participated in, winning 23 medals from 33 athletes for a success rate of nearly 70 percent. Taekwondo was a demonstration sport in 1988 and 1992, becoming an official part of the Olympic program in 2000. Since becoming an official sport at the Sydney Games in 2000, the U.S. has sent a total of 10 athletes and has brought back six medals (2 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze) for a 60 percent success rate.
In Beijing in 2008, the history-making Lopez family won three medals under the tutelage of eldest brother Jean Lopez. Mark Lopez captured silver in the men’s featherweight division, while Steven Lopez and sister Diana Lopez each claimed bronze medals. All three Lopez siblings are heavy favorites to make the 2012 team and would be considered medal contenders once again.
Steven Lopez further cemented his legacy as the best in the sport in 2009 when he won his fifth consecutive world championship title (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009), becoming the first in the sport to achieve that feat. He lost his first and only match since 1999 at the Beijing Games in 2008, dropping a controversial decision to Italy’s Mauro Sarmiento, but rebounded to claim a bronze medal in the men’s welterweight class.
- First Family of Taekwondo: Although all three of the Lopez siblings made history by medaling at the Beijing Games, the color gold was missing from their collection, thus they feel there is some unfinished business to take care of in London. The trio will once again be coached by their older brother Jean Lopez, 37. Steven Lopez, 32, is a three-time Olympic medalist (gold in 2000 amd 2004; bronze in 2008), a five-time world champion (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009), and is a living legend in the sport. When Steven and his two younger siblings – Mark, 29, and Diana, 27 – made the 2008 team, it marked just the second time ever for three siblings to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team in the same sport at one Olympic Games. The only other time that happened was in 1904 when Edward, Richard and William Tritschler competed for the U.S. gymnastics team. None of the Tritschlers, however, won a medal. So the Lopez family made further history when each stood on the medal podium in Beijing, Mark with a silver medal, and Steven and Diana both with bronze medals.
- More Family Ties: Paige McPherson, 20, of Sturgis, S.D., is the top contender in the women’s Olympic welterweight division. She is one of five adopted children in her family and currently trains with Olympian Juan Moreno in Miami, Fla. McPherson defeated 2004 Olympic silver medalist Nia Abdallah at last November’s Olympic Trials to earn the top seed in that weight class.
- Steven Lopez
- Diana Lopez
- Terrence Jennings
- Paige McPherson
- Mark Lopez
Qualification for the 2012 Olympic Team for Taekwondo is an eight-phase process as outlined below:
- 2010 National Qualifiers
- 2010 Sanctioned State Qualifiers
- 2010 Military Championships
- 2010 NCTA Collegiate Championships
- 2010 Senior National Taekwondo Championships – World Class Division
NOTE: Athletes who were members of the 2009 or 2010 Senior National Team received performance waivers from Phases 1 & 2 and were granted entry into Phase 3
- 2012 Olympic Team Trials 1 – Taekwondo
- 2012 Olympic Team Trials 2 – Taekwondo
- WTF World Olympic Qualification Tournament
- Pan American Olympic Qualification Tournament: Nov. 18-20, 2011 – Mexico City, Mexico
- 2012 Olympic Team Trials Fight-Off – Taekwondo: Late 2011-Early 2012 – TBD
- 2012 Olympic Team Trials Final – Taekwondo: Spring 2012 – TBD
- Nov. 18-20, 2011: Pan American Olympic Qualification Tournament – Mexico City, Mexico
- Late 2011-Early 2012: Olympic Team Trials Fight-Off – TBD
- Spring 2012: Olympic Team Trials Final –TBD
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