Four Olympic medalists, as well as all four members of the 2008 Olympic Team, will be competing in USA Taekwondo's 2009 National Team Trial/Fight-Off on Friday at the Austin (Texas) Convention Center. The event features 74 athletes vying for 16 spots on the U.S. National Team that will compete at the 2009 World Taekwondo Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, October 14-18.
Four-time world champion, two-time Olympic champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Steven Lopez (Sugar Land, Texas) will be competing along with his siblings and fellow 2008 Olympic teammates Mark Lopez (Sugar Land, Texas) and Diana Lopez (Sugar Land, Texas). Mark Lopez was the 2005 world champion and won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, while Diana Lopez is also a 2005 world champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.
The 2009 National Team Trials/Fight-Off is open to all members of the 2007 U.S. National Team and 2008 Olympic Team. All other competitors had to qualify by finishing among the top four in their weight division at the 2009 National Team Qualifier held January 10-11 in Colorado Springs. Friday's competition will use a round robin format to determine the winner in each of the 16 weight divisions (8 male, 8 female) who will comprise the 2009 U.S. National Team.
USA Taekwondo will also be conducting the third of five 2009 National Qualifiers at the Austin Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday. Over 680 athletes, ranging in age from 6-60, will compete in both forms (poomsae) and sparring disciplines. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. with competition starting at 9:00 a.m. on both days. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Adult (10-59) tickets are $10 for a single-day pass or $15 for a two-day pass. Children (6-9) and seniors (60+) are $7 for a single-day pass and $10 for a two-day pass. Kids 5 & under are admitted free of charge.
Other USAT National Qualifiers held in 2009 are in Kissimmee, Fla. (April 4-5), Buffalo, N.Y. (April 18-19), San Jose, Calif. (May 9-10) and Colorado Springs, Colo. (May 16-17).
The National Qualifiers are qualification events for those athletes interested in competing in the World Class division at the 2009 USA Junior Olympic Taekwondo Championships and the 2009 USAT National Taekwondo Championships. Each of the top four black belt athletes per sparring weight class in the male divisions and the top four black belt athletes in the female sparring divisions at each qualifier will qualify for the World Class sparring division at the USA Junior Olympic Taekwondo Championships and the USAT Senior National Championships (June 30-July 5 in Austin, Texas).
The gold medalists from the World Class division at the 2009 USA Junior Olympic Taekwondo Championships in Austin will qualify for the 2009 Junior National Team Trial/Fight-Off later this year.
For the poomsae (forms) competitors, the top four athletes/pairs/teams, per gender, in the 16 Competition Poomsae divisions at each National Qualifier advance to the 2009 U.S. National Poomsae Team Trials in Austin, Texas, June 30-July.
The list of Friday's Team Trials competitors by division is as follows:
(* = 2007 U.S. National Team Member)
Female Flyweight (101.3 - 107.8 lbs.)
Kelly Chu (Plano, Texas)
*Charlotte Craig (Murrieta, Calif.)
Christina Johnson (Egg Harbor City, N.J.)
Alexis Martinez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.)
Victoria Stambaugh (Pasadena, Texas)
Female Bantamweight (107.9 - 116.6 lbs.)
Kira Cramer (Laguna Niguel, Calif.)
*Simone DeVito (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.)
Emilia Morrow (Alexandria, Va.)
Danielle Pelham (Bothell, Wash.)
Mara Perscheid (Alexandria, Va.)
Female Lightweight (125.5 - 136.4 lbs.)
Stephanie Beckel (Miami, Fla.)
Kristina Bowen (Vancouver, Wash.)
Chelsea Keiser (Wapakoneta, Ohio)
Jade Lopez (Union City, Calif.)
Tasha Pruter (Blue Springs, Mo.)
Katie Sievers (Brooklyn Park, Minn.)
Cornelia Torres (Inverness, Ill.)
Female Middleweight (147.5 - 160.6 lbs.)
*Dalia Avivi (Plantation, Fla.)
*Lynda Laurin (McAllen, Texas)
Amy Maillet (Orange, Mass.)
Christina Park (New York, N.Y.)
Brandi Powers (Nottingham, Md.)
La Shondra Rawls (Clinton, Md.)
Sanaz Shahbazi (Sacramento, Calif.)
Male Flyweight (118.9 - 127.6 lbs.)
James Howe (San Ramon, Calif.)
Jorge Mejia (Littleton, Colo.)
Aldo Rodriguez (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Jamie Lee Toyota (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Christian Valencia (Renton, Wash.)
Male Bantamweight (127.7 - 138.6 lbs.)
*Brian Gallagher (Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
Pano Giannakopoulos (Stafford, Texas)
Mario Harris (Henderson, Nev.)
Bernard Posey (Greensboro, N.C.)
*Tim Thackrey (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
Male Lightweight (149.7 - 162.8 lbs.)
Tyler Knittel-McDavid (Loveland, Ohio)
*Mark Lopez (Sugar Land, Texas)
Dennis Rudasill (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Vladimir Sokolov (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Manuel Suarez (Miami, Fla.)