(May 14, 2015) -- Paige McPherson (Sturgis, S.D.) put an end to the United States' six-year medal drought on Thursday at the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, as she advanced to the semifinals of the women's welterweight (-67kg) division. The semifinals and finals for that division will be contested on Friday.
McPherson, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, began the day with a nail-biting overtime victory over Ukraine's Tetiana Tetereviatnykova, scoring the golden point to pull out a 3-2 win in the round of 32. She had another close match with Egypt's Seham Elsawalhy in the round of 16, eventually prevailing by a 5-4 score to move into the quarterfinals.
In the quarterfinals, McPherson faced the top-ranked welterweight fighter in the world in Sweden's Elin Johansson but was more than up to the challenge. A head kick in the opening round gave McPherson a 3-0 lead. Both fighters exchanged points in the second round as McPherson maintained a three-point lead at 4-1 heading into the final stanza. Another head kick by McPherson opened the gap to 7-1 and she cruised to an 8-3 victory to move into Friday's medal round where she will face Chinese Taipei's Chia Chia Chuang, the fourth-ranked fighter in the world in that weight class. McPherson has faced Chuang once before at the 2014 Canada Open, losing by a score of 10-2.
The other semifinal in the women's welterweight division features Colombia's Katherine Dumar and Turkey's Nur Tatar.
In men's featherweight (-68kg) action on Thursday, Olympic bronze medalist Terrence Jennings (Alexandria, Va.) narrowly missed advancing to the medal round. He reeled off three straight victories to move into the quarterfinals, defeating Benin's Moloise Ogoudjobi by point gap, 12-0, Chile's Jean Segura, 10-8, and Moldova's Vladislav Arventii, 7-4.
All that stood between Jennings and the medal round was reigning Olympic champion Servet Tazegul of Turkey. Tazegul had won both previous encounters between the fighters, including an 8-6 victory in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Olympic Games. In Thursday's match, Jennings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first round and led 3-1 at the round's conclusion after both fighters scored punches. A high-scoring second round ended with Tazegul holding a slim 7-6 advantage, which he expanded to 12-6 in the third round after a turning head kick. Jennings battled back but could not make up the deficit and lost a 13-11 decision.
Tazegul will face Korea's Dong-yun Shin in one semifinal while Russia's Alexey Denisenko will take on Spain's Jose Antonio Rosillo Atencia in the other semifinal to be held on Friday.
Day four of the WTF World Championships on Friday will also feature the female bantamweight (-53kg), female heavyweight (+73kg) and male finweight (-54kg) divisions. Team USA will be represented by Samantha Leong (Chino Hills, Calif.) in the female bantamweight division, Lauren Hamon (Coral Gables, Fla.) in the female heavyweight class, and Logan Gerick (Keller, Texas) in the male finweight competition.
THURSDAY'S MEDAL ROUND RESULTS
1. Min-Ah Ha (KOR)
2. Jingyu Wu (CHN)
3. Tijana Bogdanovic (SRB)
3. Svetlana Igumenova (RUS)
1. Masoud Hajizavareh (IRI)
2. Nikita Rafalovich (UZB)
3. Albert Gaun (RUS)
3. Ismael Coulibaly (MLI)