Taekwondo Preview
Following a strong performance at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, USA Taekwondo will strive once again for excellence in sparring at the 2019 Pan American Games, as well as in poomsae events, which are making their Pan American Games debut in Lima, Peru.

With three teenagers and six of the eight team members under the age of 22, the U.S. sparring squad may be young, but their youth should not be confused for inexperience. 

Paige McPherson, 28, stands in as the veteran presence on the team. The two-time Olympian and Olympic Games London 2012 bronze medalist will compete in her third consecutive Pan American Games. McPherson will be gunning for her third medal in the women’s -67 kg. division, having won silver in 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and gold in 2015 in Toronto.

Anastasija Zolotic, 16, joins Team USA as the youngest member of the squad. The heir apparent to McPherson in the female ranks, she will compete in the -57 kg. division. Zolotic won gold at the 2018 World Taekwondo Junior World Championships in Hammamet, Tunisia, silver at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and bronze at the 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Rome.

Rounding out the women’s sparring team are 19-year-old Monique Rodriguez in the -49 kg. division and 20-year-old Madelynn Gorman-Shore in the +67 kg. division.

The men’s sparring team will consist of entirely Pan American Games newcomers: David Kim, 21, in the -58 kg. division; CJ Nickolas, 18, in the -68 kg. division; Thomas Rahimi, 26, in the -80 kg. division; and Jonathan Healy, 22, in the +80 kg. division. As with the women’s team, all four athletes were on the world championships team for 2019.

Making its debut at the Pan American Games is the taekwondo discipline of poomsae. Alex Lee, 19, Andrew Lee, 17, and Ethan Sun, 18, will represent Team USA in the men’s competition, while Karyn Real, 17, and Saejin Yi, 25, will compete in the women’s event.

The Pan American Games represent the highest-level multi-sport games for taekwondo outside of an Olympic Games. Team USA will compete in taekwondo events from Saturday, July 27 through Monday, July 29 at the Villa Deportiva Regional del Callao.