Evan Medell earned a gold medal at the Parapan American Games as taekwondo made its Parapan debut in Lima.
American Para taekwondo athlete Evan Medell (Grand Haven, Michigan) will bring home the gold after defeating Mexico’s Francisco Pedroza 22-16 in the men’s k44 +75 kg category on Saturday at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019. Teammate Johnny Birch Jr. (DeLand, Florida) nabbed the bronze.
Medell credited those around him for today’s big win. “This is a culmination of 10 years of hard work,” said Medell. “It is not just me, it is the people who put work into me, all the people that have allowed me to do this, and people back home, family, friends, training partners this is a product of all of that.”
For Birch, today was also an amazing experience. “I’ve represented the United States as a soldier and now as a Parapan American athlete,” said Birch. “I can’t be more grateful.”
American Corbin Stacey (Cleveland, Ohio) was set to face Birch in the bronze medal match but withdrew from the competition. Michael Kaser (Throop, Pennsylvania) and Felix Sabates (Cooper City, Florida) also competed today but were unable to advance to the medal rounds.
Saturday’s gold and bronze medals bring Team USA’s Para taekwondo final medal count to three after Sophie Gimeno’s bronze medal winning performance in the women’s k44 under 49kg Friday.
Para taekwondo will make its Paralympic debut in Tokyo 2020. Medell hopes that fans will learn more about Para taekwondo going into the Games.
“This is a pretty exciting sport with a lot of action,” said Medell. “I think people will find it is really fun to watch.”