TAEKWONDO: Lopez Siblings Chance at Olympic History Comes April 5th in Des Moines

March 10, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
For Steven, Mark and Diana Lopez (Sugar Land, Texas), their long-anticipated dream of making the same U.S. Olympic Team boils down to Mark and Diana winning one more match. That opportunity will take place at the final stage of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials for Taekwondo on April 5th in Des Moines, Iowa. The last time three siblings qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in the same year was 1904 when Edward, Richard and William Tritschler all participated on the U.S. gymnastics team. None of them medaled at the 1904 Games. Mark Lopez, 25, enters as the top seed in the men's Olympic featherweight division and Diana Lopez, 24, will be the top seed in the women's Olympic featherweight class. Both won world championship titles in 2005 along with their brother Steven. Mark also was a silver medalist at the 2003 world championships and Diana earned a bronze medal at the 2007 world championships. Steven, 29, the two-time Olympic gold medalist (2000 , 2004) and four-time world champion (2001, 2003, 2005 , 2007), was the only American to qualify at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament last September in Manchester, England. All three Lopez siblings are coached by their eldest brother Jean, 36. Mark Lopez will be facing challenger, and training partner, Chris Martinez, 24 (Sugar Land, Texas) in the men's Olympic featherweight final (136.5-147.4/62-67 kg). Martinez will need to defeat Lopez twice to win the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team spot. The women's Olympic featherweight division (107.9-125.4 lbs/49-57 kg) will feature a showdown of arguably the two best female Taekwondo fighters in the U.S. today: Diana Lopez and 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2007 world bronze medalist Nia Abdallah, 24, (Houston, Texas). Abdallah earned her spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team by defeating Lopez, while Lopez defeated Abdallah twice last August at the initial phase of the Olympic Trials. The third and final division to be decided, the women's Olympic flyweight division (not exceeding 107.8 lbs/49 kg), will be a showdown of teenagers: 17-year-old Charlotte Craig (Murrieta, Calif.), and 16-year-old Anees Hasnain (McKinney, Texas). Craig defeated Hasnain, 2-0, in their only meeting last year and has the most international experience, winning a bronze medal at the Senior World Championships in Beijing last year. But Hasnain, a former Level-10 gymnast, has come on strong in the past year to become a legitimate challenger. The United States has medaled in the sport of Taekwondo in each of the four Olympic Games that it has participated in, winning 20 medals from 29 athletes for a success rate of 69 percent. Taekwondo was a demonstration sport in 1988 and 1992, becoming an official part of the Olympic program in 2000. In Athens in 2004, the U.S. sent two athletes and both came home with hardware: gold for Steven Lopez and silver for Nia Abdallah. To request a media credential for the April 5th Olympic Trials in Des Moines, contact Bill Kellick at 719-866-3626 or bill.kellick@usa-taekwondo.us. ###