TAEKWONDO: Selina Coppersmith-Tubbs Wins First U.S. Junior World Title Since 2000; Olie Burton and Merissa Pico Capture Bronze Medals

May 08, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
Selina Coppersmith-Tubbs (Plano, Texas) became the first American to win a junior world title since 2000 when she captured the female flyweight gold medal Thursday at the 7th World Junior Championships in Izmir, Turkey. The last U.S. fighter to don gold at the World Junior Championships was 2008 Olympic Team member Diana Lopez (Sugar Land, Texas). Also on Thursday, Olie Burton (Accokeek, Md.) and Merissa Pico (Fort Lee, N.J.) captured bronze medals in the men's finweight and women's bantamweight divisions, respectively. The event runs through Sunday and includes 749 athletes from a record 84 countries. "We are very pround of the way everyone fought," said U.S. coach Jean Lopez. "In spite of having a relatively young team they showed a lot of composure. Selina won convincingly, Olie lost a close match to Korea and Merissa, the youngest on the team, shows that she has a bright future. We're off to a great two-day start." Only three members of the 20-member team have previous World Junior Championship experience: men's flyweight Jericho Yabut (Canyon Country, Calif.), men's lightweight Tyler Sawyer (Anchorage, Alaska) and men's light middleweight John Hansel (Ashburn, Va.). At the last World Junior Championships in 2006 the U.S. squad won four bronze medals. Coppersmith-Tubbs won five consecutive matches to claim the flyweight gold medal. She defeated Croatia's Stela Simunic in the final by a score of 4-3. Because Wednesday's opening day of competition ran late and was suspended, Pico had to fight her quarterfinal match on Thursday morning. She defeated Sun Huei Ning of Chinese Taipei, 1-0, to reach the medal round before losing by a 1-0 count to Thailand's Chanatip Sonkham. Burton reached the medal round with wins over fighters from Armenia, Cyprus, Belarus and Australia. In the semifinals, Korea's Jeong In Chang scored the decisive point in the last 30 seconds of the match to pull out a 2-1 victory. The third day of the five-day event takes place on Friday with four more U.S. fighters in action. Men's welterweight Jared Schneider (Sugar Land, Texas), women's welterweight Gabriella Vazzana (Paris, Va.), women's lightweight Nicole Palma (Lake Worth, Fla.) and men's lightweight Tyler Sawyer (Anchorage, Alaska) will attempt to add to the American medal count. ###