Even Medell takes a moment to reflect on the podium after winning the bronze medal in the men's K44 +75kg taekwondo event at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Sept. 4, 2021 in Tokyo.
Evan Medell admitted that he probably would be retired from his sport right now had he won a different-colored medal at Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
With taekwondo making its Paralympic debut, Medell earned a bronze medal in the men’s +75 kg. K44 class. It marked the first U.S. medal in the sport. But as the top-ranked athlete in the field, he wanted more.
“I’ll be honest, it was disappointing,” Medell recalled. “Going into (the Games), I had won three of the major tournaments in a row. I was feeling really good.
“And then I broke my foot like the second kick I threw in the semifinal match. It didn’t come together the way I wanted it to. I was happy to get a medal. I was like, at least I didn’t go there and get nothing.”
Medell, who has been competing internationally since 2015, is now 25 years old and looking forward to the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
“The only reason I’m back is to win gold,” said Medell of Grand Haven, Michigan. “That’s it. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
In 2022, Medell — who grew up with brachial plexus palsy, a paralysis that affects the arm — showed that he is clearly a man on a mission. He took home a gold medal from every major tournament he entered.
“I feel like last year was a year where he was extremely focused on every particular goal that he needed,” said Adrian Gonzales, the Para head coach for USA Taekwondo. “To go to every tournament last year and win gold, that’s a big feat.”
Medell, the world’s No. 1-ranked fighter in one of the sport’s most competitive classes, has a clear path to the 2024 Games, barring something unforeseen.
“He is pretty much on his way to Paris,” Gonzales said. “Keeping him healthy, mentally and physically, is our No. 1 goal.”
Apart from the broken foot, Medell has stayed mostly avoided serious injuries throughout his career.