Team USA Earns 20 Medals in Aguascalientes
By Barbara Brand, USA Taekwondo National Poomsae Team Coach
Team USA continued its record-breaking momentum to finish the 2014 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships with a total of 20 medals: four gold medals, five silver medals and 11 bronze medals.
Noreen Thackrey won the master three division gold medal, becoming the first three-time American world championship gold medal athlete. She started calm and confident against Turkey in the first final (Taebaek, Shipjin), demonstrated the best balance of the division against Spain in the second final (Pyongwon, Jitae) and showed fierce control and determination against Russia in the third final (Hansu, Keumgang). The silver medal went to Russia, and the bronze medals went to Spain and Argentina.
“This was different than my previous two gold medals,” Thackrey said. “Being on the last day of the competition, it was a challenge to stay healthy and strong. The new final format was a challenge as well, having to do six poomsae rather than two as before.
“The coaching and support staff was a great help throughout the trip and especially on game day. It was also very special, as my husband was able make the trip and share the moment with me.”
The Team USA junior male team of Chris Lu, Kyle Ng and Shemual Tsai blasted through the competition and won a gold medal in the group’s first world championships appearance. The trio’s synchronization, flow and power pushed the athletes to wins in the first final (Taegeuk 5, Koryo) over Mexico and the second final (Taegeuk 6, Taegeuk 8) against Russia. The athletes hit their peak in control and contrast in the third final (Taekbaek, Keumgang) against Chinese Taipei, which earned the silver medal. The bronze medals went to Vietnam and Russia.
Chi Duong won his second silver medal of the world championships in the third master division. After Russia forfeited the first final, he faced Great Britain in the second final (Pyongwon, Jitae) and Spain in the third final (Hansu, Jitae). The gold medal went to Spain, and the bronze medals went to Turkey and Great Britain.
Duong had this bit of advice for American competitors: “You have to be very well-prepared. If not you will be put off by the new format. New athletes need to train harder and expect the unexpected.”
Carissa Fu won a bronze medal in the senior one division. She finished sixth in her preliminary (Taekgeuk 7, Koryo) group of 16, and she finished sixth in the semifinal (Keumgang, Taebaek). She then beat Egypt in the first final (Keumgang, Koryo) before a tough battle with Mexico in the second final (Taegeuk 8, Taebaek). The gold medal went to Korea, the silver medal to Mexico and Chinese Taipei also earned a bronze medal.
After the event, Fu said, “Today has certainly been one of the most emotional days I have ever experienced. Each round was a battle, and that made the passing of each a hard-fought victory. It hasn't quite hit me yet what happened today and what the entire Team USA accomplished this year. I know we left an indelible mark on the world stage, showing each nation we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Team USA won its last medal, a bronze, in the final division of the championships: the under 17 freestyle mixed team. American athletes, parents and supporters, who had cheered throughout the four days of competition, yelled a loud, proud cheer as Kenneth Doan, Tyler Dao, Khoa Nguyen, Trina Dao and Arianna Le stepped on the mat. The crowd joined them as they hit every dynamic run. China earned the gold medal, Vietnam won the silver medal and Mexico also claimed a bronze medal.
The cadet pair of Vincent Jodjana and Riann Jao came out strong in the semifinal (Taegeuk 5, Keumgang) before facing Vietnam in the first final (Taegeuk 7, Taegeuk 6). The gold medal went to Korea, the silver medal went to Vietnam and the bronze medals went to Canada and China.
The Team USA cadet team of Jamie Ng and Riann Jao met China in the first final (Taegeuk 7, Keumgang) and fell by just .06 points. The silver medal went to Vietnam, and the bronze medals went to Denmark and Mexico.
Michael Coulcoundis placed ninth in the preliminary round (Taegeuk 6, Taegeuk 8) of the junior division and missed the final cut by .07 points.