The first of five National Qualifiers will be held this weekend, April 4-5, at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla. Over 350 athletes, ranging in age from 6-60, are expected to 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 to be held in 2009 are in Buffalo, N.Y. (April 18-19), Austin, Texas (April 25-26), 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.
Top competitors in the Kissimmee National Qualifier include 2007 National Team member Dalia Avivi (Miami, Fla.); 2008 Junior National Team members Nicole Palma (Lake Worth, Fla.) and Evan Rodgers (Stone Mountain, Ga.); 2008 Junior World Team member Jacquelyn Lauricella (Port Orange, Fla.); 2008 Pan Am Championships Team members Alexis Martinez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), Paige McPherson (Miami, Fla.), Lauren Cahoon (Miami, Fla.) and Rudford Hamon (Miami, Fla.); 2008 national champion Jermaine James (Cape Coral, Fla.); 2008 U.S. Open gold medalists Manuel Suarez (Miami, Fla.) and Danielle Holmquist (Coral Springs, Fla.), silver medalist Hans Lapica (Miami, Fla.), and bronze medalists Seth Wolfe (Miami, Fla.) and Lyles Moore (Miami, Fla.); 2007 national champions Stephanie Beckel (Miami, Fla.) and Amie Szymanski (Miami, Fla.); 2006 Junior National Team member Daniel Cosmillo (Palm Bay, Fla.); and 2008 National Poomsae Team members Garth Cooley (Carmel, Ind.) and Aline Salzberg (Chatsworth, Calif.).