Get to Know 2014 USAT National Poomsae Team Members Edward Jeong and Megan Yi

Sept. 29, 2014, 11:07 a.m. (ET)

By Anacleta Thorne (Special Submission to USAT)

I would like you to get to know 2014 Senior 1 Male division and first pair team member Edward Jeong. Along with Megan Yi, he will represent USAT at the upcoming 9th World Poomsae Taekwondo Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

When I talked with Jeong, he’d recently completed his move into college. He’s attending the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut to further his studies in martial arts.

This confirmed that within taekwondo there is always something new to learn. For instance, in Jeong’s case one can say he was born into taekwondo. His father is Grandmaster Jae Hyung Jeong, and the younger Jeong started taekwondo at age 3.

Over the years Jeong was primarily into sparring, but over time he started to get interested in poomsae. His dad encouraged him by saying “you’re young, and you can do whatever you want.” In 2010 he started competing seriously, and in 2013 he made the USAT National Poomsae Team for the first time.

Jeong is also thinking of sparring at the collegiate level. He noted that he has a lot of respect for those athletes who do poomsae and sparring, such as the case with his teammate Carissa Fu (Senior Female Division).

Throughout our conversation, Jeong reiterated how proud he is to be the son of Grandmaster Jae Hyung Jeong. The inspiration came from watching his dad practice taekwondo and watching his father’s interaction with students. He remembers watching his dad teach children with disabilities and noticed how passionate he was to help teach them.

In another instance, Jeong’s dad once told his sons that he loves taekwondo so much that when he dies he will want to be buried in his dobok. He thought at first his father was kidding; however, he listened to his dad and realized how much his dad loves taekwondo. This has made Jeong want to make his dad proud.

Jeong’s entire family is involved with taekwondo: his brother spars competitively, and his mom will be testing for her black belt in a few months. The family is so committed and active in supporting taekwondo that while Jeong is at the world championships his father will be hosting a tournament in Massachusetts.

Although his father will not be at the world championships, Jeong pointed out that when competing he thinks of his dad and how his efforts will make his father proud. They will be miles apart, and yet they’ll be together in true taekwondo spirit.

Now I would like to bring your attention to his pair partner, Yi. She started to ask her parents to take taekwondo when she was 6 years old. At the time, her mom thought it was primarily a boy sport, so Yi found herself in ballet class; however, she wanted to be more active. She was persistent in her asking, and it paid off: when she turned 11 her parents let her start taking taekwondo.

In 2009 Yi started competing, and in 2013 she made the USAT National Poomsae Team for the first time.

I asked about her training. Yi does either cardio or strength training in the mornings and focuses on poomsae in the afternoons, when she trains in her parents’ kitchen, as they have setup mats there. She said this schedule will work when she returns later this fall to UC Irvine, where she is studying criminology.

Although Yi’s mom has never taken taekwondo, she does know all of the forms. Her parents and her siblings are her biggest supporters, with her parents being her greatest inspiration to continue. Yi is deeply passionate about taekwondo, and she shared that her long-term goal is to do taekwondo for the rest of her life; she wants to open up her own school in the future and continue to do this sport.

I asked Yi to tell me about how she and Jeong came to be a pair. The story goes that they were both on the 2013 USAT National Poomsae Team and traveled to Bali, Indonesia, for the 8th World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships. Both athletes represented Team USA in the individual senior divisions.

While in Bali training, Jeong said, “Let’s do a poomsae for fun.” They noticed that they have similar styles, but nothing more came from it. Prior to collegiate competition, Jeong then asked Yi if she wanted to compete with him in the pair division. She initially turned him down twice due to the fact that he lives in Massachusetts, while she lives in California. She was concerned about being able to train with him because of the distance.

However, Yi agreed to partner with Jeong in April prior to the collegiate nationals. At that competition, they barely missed first place and decided to keep practicing on their own. Since they’d medaled at that event, they qualified for nationals.

A week before nationals, Jeong went to California so they could train together. The outcome was positive, as they took first place in the first pairs division. They both sounded very happy and stated that they are honored to be given this opportunity to represent Team USA.

Since making the national team, Jeong and Yi agree that it’s not easy training as a pair considering they are in different parts of the country. But they do try to get together in the same location when possible.

For example, a few months ago Yi traveled to Massachusetts to train with Jeong for three weeks. They also video tape themselves and share it with one another. They’ve designed a plan that will help them with preparing both mentally and physically for the upcoming worlds.

Although they have quite a bit of distance between one another, their drive and passion to be successful helps them be creative in finding methods to keep them connected as they prepare for Aguascalientes. Please join me in cheering them on as they work toward bringing home a gold medal from the 9th World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships.

The USAT athletes self-fund themselves to travel to the World Poomsae Championships. Those interested in donating to the USAT National Poomsae Team can use the following link: https://fundly.com/usa-poomsae-team.