Well, it's over. We're home. The 7th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships is complete! Before competition began, I wrote that this year's world poomsae championships was turning out to be special for a variety of reasons. Well, I can now say with certainty that this was the MOST special world poomsae championships to me, and to the United States.
For years, we have worked collectively as a poomsae nation of sorts, on improving ourselves with the goal of achieving international success. Along the way, we knew that conducing ourselves in a respectful and humble manner regardless of the competition outcome was important. We had many years of frustrations, but knew that the answer for us was never about recognition from judges, approval from our peers, luck, or any random factors out of our control. The path would be hard work, dedication, perseverance, and indomitable spirit. It would be all of the fundamental tenets of Taekwondo that we as students, masters, coaches, and referees, knew we had to practice if we wanted to accomplish that goal. Success doesn't come over night, but when it does come, the hardship blossoms into a beautiful flower.
This year, the United States achieved international success unlike ever before in world poomsae competition, taking home six medals (2 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze), the most improved team award, and finished 3rd overall out of 57 nations. Just one year ago, we went home empty-handed. Oh what a difference a year can make!
Truth be told, so many contributing factors add up over the years that lead to success. I couldn't possibly list everything here, but I believe everybody on our team knows that it's this difficult and trying growth that has made this year so special. It made for that elusive "finally!" moment to come true for us. It's almost as if we all just took on a new mindset as a team, and that attitude became infectious. It started on day 1 and carried through to the end of competition when our head coach Master Jimmy Kim raised our 3rd place trophy as our team screamed and cheered from the stands as if we had won 1st place. Then it even continued as we arrived home in Los Angeles around midnight on Tuesday morning, and athletes' families cheered us as we entered the airport.
This year, we feel that the United States has arrived. That we have confidence and are not afraid of success. That the goals that may have once seemed intimidating, are no longer intimidating. In fact, those goals are now very real, right in front of us, within our grasp, and even wrapped around the necks of some of the United States' finest athletes. We now know that all it takes is more hard work, dedication, and believing in yourself. The rest will take care of itself.
Congratulations to all of Team USA's athletes, friends, family, and supporters. And thank you to the World Taekwondo Federation, the Colombian Organizing committee, the City of Tunja, and everybody who shared in making the 7th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships a resounding success for not just the United States, but for Taekwondo.
We'll see you next year.