(October 1, 2016) -- U.S. athletes had one outstanding performance after another and won medals in seven of 11 divisions on Friday at the 10th World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Lima, Peru.
"Today was one of the best single-day performances for Team USA on any single day of World Championships competition," said Head Coach Dan Chuang. "The team really came together and supported each other."
Gold medalist Erica Linthorst
Erica Linthorst powered her way to the center spot on the podium in the Master 4 65+ division, Team USA's first ever gold medal in that division. After winning her match against Denmark, Linthorst battled to come from a 0.12 deficit against Russia and captured the gold on her second form.
"Behind every competitor there's a family and group of friends: there are teachers, mentors, and coaches," commented Linthorst. "With good fortune, there are teammates with ready cheers and warm hugs. The competitor must bring true grit, unrelenting energy and determination every moment throughout the year. Thank you USAT National Team and your strong leaders terrific coaches, and captains for being the beacon on my fantastic journey! With great appreciation and respect."
Gold medalist Tyler Dao
A second world champion for Team USA was also crowned on the second day of competition. in the 12-17 freestyle male individual, Tyler Dao took center stage as the last competitor in an intense division of superbly tuned athletes. The excited audience embraced his every technique with thunderous applause. His style of finesse and power elevated him to the gold.
"To be the first junior freestyle male gold medalist is one of the greatest honors, representing the United States of America the greatest experience that I have ever had," said Dao. "It reminds me that almost anything is possible with hard work and determination. I want to thank everyone on my team, all my coaches, and especially my parents for supporting me throughout the whole process."
Silver medalist Pok Sun Yang
In the U50 individual male division, Pok Sun Yang advanced by bye, then advanced over Italy, Great Britain and Turkey before being stopped only by Korea in the finals to earn a silver medal. It was the first medal in history for Team USA in the U50 individual male division.
"It was my first time at a World Poomsae Championship and an honor to represent as Team USA and earn the first medal for Team USA in the under 50 at World Championships," Yang said. "If you love Taekwondo you need to keep kicking until you make it to the world class. Thank you Coach Brand and all other coaches and head of team Ron Southwick and most of all, God."
Silver medal 30+ female team of Thoa Nguyen, Elva Pai Adams and Kathy Do
Also earning silver was the 30+ female team consisting of Elva Pai Adams, Kathy Do and Thoa Nguyen, who placed second in a deep field that included Mexico and Iran among other powerhouse teams.
"We are very grateful to win silver and happy with our performance," Adams said. "One step closer to gold!"
Bronze medal 12-14 male team of Brandon Cho, Ryan Real and Ethan Sen
Three divisions earned bronze medals for the U.S. The 12-14 Male Team of Brandon Cho, Ryan Real, and Ethan Sen advanced from the semifinal round where they placed fourth to the finals and then finished in fourth overall to earn the bronze medal.
"I will always remember the bonding moments that occurred while we all waited in holding for the final round to start," reflected Real. "The most fun part about the competition was getting to perform in front of all the international referees and different countries. It was an overall amazing experience."
The 15-17 pair of Priscilla Jo and Vincent Jodjana also advanced from the semifinal round where they placed sixth, but turned in a clutch performance in the final round to advance to fourth place and earn a bronze medal with an outstanding Taegeuk and Taebaek.
"Always finish strong because if you don't, you are seriously going to regret it," Jodjana said.
Bronze medal men's 30+ team of Anh Nguyen, Huy Nguyen and Chau Truong
Finally, the 30+ male team of Anh Nguyen, Huy Nguyen and Chau Truong advanced from the semis in fifth place and were able to surpass Korea to earn the fourth place and a bronze medal.
"It was an awesome experience to raise the American flag on the podium," said Anh Nguyen. "Our competition is more of a mental game rather than a physical one. This is when I realized coach plays a very important role. Thank you C. Long Nguyen for prepping us the entire time, and also head coach Dan Chuang who stepped in and helped us mentally after our semi-final round."
Several athletes finished just one round or match shy of a medal but turned in outstanding performances. U40 male individual Justin Wang, U40 female individual Rosalynn Le, and U60 female individual Kristi George all advanced through the single elimination bracket to the quarterfinals. The 18+ freestyle mixed team of Hazel Cruz, Kelsey Ha. Heather Huynh, Alvin Jong and Lance Supnet all turned in an outstanding performance that wowed the crowd but finished out of the medals in the final round.
The World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships continue through Sunday.