The youngest member of the U.S. team reached the podium on Wednesday's opening day of competition at the 9th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Crystal Weekes (Staten Island, N.Y.), 14, captured a bronze medal in the female heavyweight (+68kg) division to claim the United States' only medal of the day.
Weekes opened the competition with a convincing 17-9 win over Chinese Taipei's Chia-Jung Yu, and then advanced tothe medal round with an overtime win over 17-year-old Parinaz Kafaei Mohammadnejad of Iran. In her semifinal match, Weekes faced 2010 World Junior bronze medalist Alexandra Potapova of Russia, who will turn 17 later this month. Potapova landed a head shot early in the first round and shot out to a 4-0 lead. In the second round, Potapova scored two more three-point head shots and went up 12-0. Weekes was unable to find an opening on the experienced Russian fighter and the match was called on the 12-point gap rule at the end of the second round. Potapova would go on to win the gold medal.
Other Americans in action on Wednesday included female lightweight (-52kg) Tiffany Khuu (Diamond Bar, Calif.), male lightweight (-59kg) Ryan Guzman (Miami, Fla.) and male heavyweight (+78kg) Drew Thompson (Maple Valley, Wash.).
Khuu defeated Alina Kryshniova of Belarus in overtime of her opening match, but then lost a 3-0 decision to Chinese Taipei's Wan-Chu Lo. Guzman was edged 4-3 by Libya's Ayub Benghawila in his first match and Thompson was defeated by Iran's Aref Farshad Mehr, 12-3.
Competition continues on Thursday. Here is the lineup for the American team for the remainder of the week:
Thursday, April 5
Gigi Gil (Camarillo, Calif.) female bantamweight (-46kg)
Logan Gerick (Keller, Texas) male bantamweight (-51kg)
Moriah Martin (Eagle River, Alaska) female middleweight (-63kg)
Matthew Morales (Miami, Fla.) male middleweight (-73kg)
Friday, April 6
Cheyenne Lewis (Elk Grove, Calif.) female featherweight (-49kg)
Gabriel Chadis (Alvin, Texas) male featherweight (-55kg)
Danielle Gay (Rhinebeck, N.Y.) female light heavyweight (-68kg)
Brandon Ivey (Ashburn, Va.) male light heavyweight (-78kg)
Saturday, April 7
Kelsey Junious (South Windsor, Conn.) female finweight (-42kg)
Ethan Gallegos (Bakersfield, Calif.) male finweight (-45kg)
Deireanne Morales (Lynwood, Calif.) female welterweight (-55kg)
Malik Taylor (Littleton, Colo.) male welterweight (-63kg)
Sunday, April 8
Alexandria Carino (Bakersfield, Calif.) female flyweight (-44kg)
Zachery Budde (Maple Grove, Minn.) male flyweight (-48kg)
Alexxis Grosso (Anaheim, Calif.) female light middleweight (-59kg)
Alec Coopman (Kapolei, Hawaii) male light middleweight (-68kg)
View the brackets for each division HERE > >