Taekwondo

Apr 06 TAEKWONDO: Quotes from History-Making Lopez Family

April 06, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
The Lopez family made Olympic history on April 5th at the U.S. Olympic Trials for Taekwondo by placing three siblings (Steven, Mark and Diana) on the Olympic Team, plus their eldest brother (Jean) as Olympic Team Coach. The last time three siblings qualified for a U.S. Olympic Team in the same year was 1904 when William, Edward and Richard Tritschler made the U.S. gymnastics team that competed in St. Louis. None of them medaled at the Olympic Games. Jean Lopez, 2008 Olympic Team Coach About the emotion he felt: "I've said this before but it never gets old. I don't think in our lifetime we get too many chances to say everything is just perfect. I was very anxious to get it done and when it finally happened I was like, O.K., we're done. We get to savor it for a couple of days." On the tight matches for Mark and Diana against Chris Martinez and Nia Abdallah: "I knew that both matches were going to be tough. At that level the difference is very minimal. Chris and Mark fight each other all the time so it was like watching them back at home. I think the spectators got a treat by seeing such good matches. In Nia, Diana was fighting the Olympic silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics so that could have easily been the finals at the Olympic Games, so you're expecting it's going to be a tough match." On being part of Olympic history: "Making Olympic history and breaking it with myself, the older brother, being the Olympic Team coach, is amazing. It's even more amazing when people ask me that question. It's surreal, feels dreamlike. We always felt we could do it but when it's actually done than you can really appreaciate the magnitude of what you've accomplished." Diana Lopez About the pressure of fighting last: "I really didn't put pressure on myself. I knew if I trained hard everyday, the pressure wouldn't be as intense. I was prepared for it. I really felt relaxed out there. Afterwards, I was excited to be on the Olympic Team but happy emotions came out. I thought I would cry but I did what I expected because I did all my training and waited four years for this." About whether being an Olympian has sunk in yet: "Yeah. I'm still getting used to it but just excited to be part of the Olympic Team and work hard, train hard and get ready for Beijing." On being part of Olympic history: "It's amazing. I was watching ESPN afterwards and they showed the graphic with three siblings and said my name. I still can't believe it and can't wait to go home and see my parents. We're always creating history and hopefully we can create more history at the 2008 Beijing Games." Steven Lopez (2000 , 2004 Olympic gold medalist who qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games last September) On watching from the stands: "I would take being in the finals at the Olympic Games or world championships over watching my siblings competing. It's nervewrecking. I get extremely nervous almost to a point where I couldn't watch the match. I was overwhelmed and felt drained. We've had this dream, we've visualized it and dreamt it and now we've finally realized it." On whether he felt different emotions between watching Mark and watching Diana: "It was like, O.K., one down and one more to go. The same feeling I had when Diana won the world championships (in 2005) and then Marky was up. It wasn't complete until both of them were done. My expectations were for both of them to make it. If only one would have of made it, of course we would have been happy, but it wouldn't have completed the dream I had going into this Olympic Games." On his reaction to Diana winning the final match in overtime: "When Marky was fighting Chris (Martinez) I didn't say anything. When Diana was fighting Nia (Abdallah) I just sat myself down because normally I would pace up and down, but I just sat myself down and had my arms folded and didn't say much, and after she won I just put my arms up in the air and said 'Yes'! It was an unbelievable feeling and I'm just so happy. We're very blessed and I hope we are able to represent our country in the best way we can." On what he anticipates the feeling will be like walking into the opening ceremonies of the Olympics with his three siblings: "That's what I've been waiting for. Everytime I've gone to the Olympic Games, the opening ceremonies have been one of the highlights for me and I've always tried to share that experience with Mark and Diana and tell them how unbelievable that is to walk into a stadium filled with so many people and feel the electricity. Now, for them to be able to actually walk in with me, I know I'm going to be hugging them and kissing them, being able to walk into that stadium with 90,000 people and go 'We're here, we've done it'. Man, it's going to be awesome." Mark Lopez On the emotions he felt during the Trials: "Proud. Pure joy. One of the happiest moments of my life." On his tumbling pass and back flips after he won: "That's usually pre-planned. I expect to win so that's what I like to do to give something back to the fans out there. And I knew there were some gymnasts (Shannon Miller and Shawn Johnson) out there (in the crowd) so in appreciation of their great skills I wanted to show them what I could do too." On whether the feeling of being an Olympian has sunk in yet: "Yep. I've visualized this moment for a long time now so it's something that I've always felt before. I'm so excited and so happy and surprised, but at the same time it's something that I feel I deserved and I really feel comfortable with it." On what he anticipates the feeling will be like walking into the opening ceremonies of the Olympics with his three siblings: "It's a dream that we've been thinking about over and over again and I can't wait for that moment to happen." Charlotte Craig (fourth member of the 2008 Olympic Team who trains with the Lopezes and who qualified in the flyweight division) On whether the feeling of being an Olympian has sunk in yet: "It hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe when I'm traveling to China or being in the opening ceremonies, I think then it will sink in." On her feelings after her 4-2 win: "I was happy I made the Team but I knew I could have fought better. I guess you can't be on every day. My first match is normally my toughest fight and I was trying to improve that." On training with the Lopez family and how they treat her: "They treat me like their little adopted sister. They're always looking after me and helping me be a better athlete." ###
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