"This was the largest World Poomsae Championships in the 10 year history of the event," said U.S. Head Coach Dan Chuang. "To come away with the highest medal count among all countries and 3rd place in the standings at such an intensely competitive event shows that we are among the best in the world as a poomsae nation. I'm grateful for the efforts of all of the coaches, athletes, staff, and the USAT office for their hard work leading up to and during this trip. Most of all, I'm proud of how the team came together to support each other despite being from different schools and areas of the country."
Coach Dan Chuang (fourth from right) poses with the overall third-place trophy
Head of Team Ron Southwick added, "Going into the 10th World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships we had one goal for the athletes and staff, to perform extraordinarily. Any team that is fielded in international competition faces numerous challenges, but when we act as a team, under a common paradigm like this, the chances to reach goals increases. Every single member of this team gave everything and can walk away knowing that our goal was fulfilled. We performed extraordinarily."
Silver medalist Chi Duong
Chi Duong and Diana Hunt swept up the silver medals in the U65 individual divisions. Duong looked confident every time he stepped onto the ring. He advanced over Australia, Argentina and Iran before meeting an experienced Korea in the finals.
"I felt very comfortable and blessed," Duong said. "To have the team captains, doctor, team members and parents rooting for me, it gave me a positive energy to go on even when I was exhausted."
Silver medalist Diana Hunt
Hunt was glowing after advancing over Spain to reach the finals. "To even be on the USA team feels unreal. To get a silver medal is a dream come true. I am so grateful for my coach, teammates and family for their help in getting me here," she said.
Bronze medal 12-14 pair of Ethen Sen and Hannah Mooney
Team USA took home 6 bronze medals on Sunday. The 12-14 pair of Hannah Mooney and Ethan Sen were the first to win, advancing from the semifinal elimination round to the finals.
"Today, I received the title of third in the world for my event, mixed pair poomsae," said Mooney. "I am so honored to have had this opportunity. I think that this trip has brought me much closer to all of my fellow Team USA teammates; it was an experience I will never forget!"
Bronze medal 12-14 female team of Megan Lee, Jae Shin and Erica Seo
The 12-14 Female Team of Megan Lee, Jae Shin and Erica Seo also took bronze after advancing from the semifinal round to the final 8 round.
"I am so excited that we got to represent Team USA and get a bronze medal," said Lee. "We had some ups and downs, we also cared for each other and had each other's backs. When we were nervous or scared we comforted each other and reminded each other of how if we tried our best that was all that mattered."
Bronze medalist Alex Lee
Alex Lee tackled the difficult task of competing in two divisions on the same day, and took the bronze in the 15-17 division and then helped boost his junior teammates Andrew Lee and Ethan Sun to a bronze-medal performance. It was the first medal for team USA in the 15-17 junior male division in the history of the event, and the junior team was able to improve from a 6th place standing in the semifinal round to the bronze medal position after their finals performance. The team was all smiles afterward.
Bronze medal 15-17 junior male team of Alex Lee, Andrew Lee and Ethan Sun
"It was an amazing experience," Alex Lee said. "I loved every second of it and will remember this for the rest of my life. Hearing the cheers from the stands and cheering with them were my favorite parts."
Bronze medalist Riann Jao
15-17 female individual athlete Riann Jao also earned a bronze medal. She advanced through the preliminary and semifinal elimination rounds to the top 8 and advanced over Turkey before meeting Korea in the semifinals. Jao tied Korea but lost the tiebreaker and narrowly missed the finals matchup. It was also the first medal for team USA in the 15-17 female division.
"It feels unreal to finally be able to be up on the podium knowing two years of hard training paid off since the last World Championships," Jao said. "Earning the bronze now just made me strive for the gold in the 2018 World Championships."
Bronze medal 12-17 freestyle mixed team of Arianna Le, Jamie Ng, Aleena Duong, Tyler Dao, Kenneth Doan and Ethan Huang
The very last performance of the day was the 12-17 freestyle mixed team of Tyler Dao, Kenneth Doan, Arianna Le, Jamie Ng, Aleena Duong, and Ethan Huang. The team performed extremely well to earn a bronze medal.
"Throughout all the emotional and physical struggles, we walked out there confident and knowing that we only had the six of us to rely on," said Le. "We represented USA to the best of our abilities and, despite any results, knew we only had to be proud of our performance. And we were - we know we made a mark for ourselves and our country!"
Fresh off of his silver medal in in pairs on Day 3, 18+ freestyle individual male Alex Twu competed in the men's individual freestyle. He just missed the cut in a very competitive first flight during the semifinal round, tying for the sixth place cutoff spot, but just missed the mark on the tiebreaker techmocal score. His performance was very solid, showed off his athleticism and high-flying acrobatics, and had the crowd on their feet.
Also in action was U30 female individual Carissa Fu. One of the deepest divisions of the tournament, the U30 female division featured some fierce battles. Fu advanced over Macau in the round of 32 by a large margin but was unable to pass Mexico in the round of 16. Regardless, she gave a very strong performance, showing her impressive strength and flexibility and represented the team well.