USA Taekwondo Athlete Academy Launching in 2019

Nov. 04, 2018, 9:10 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 4, 2018) USA Taekwondo’s ambitious goal to Dominate in ’28 when the Olympic Games returns to American soil in Los Angeles will take another major step forward in 2019, with the launch of a new program specifically designed to identify and then develop and support future Olympians to be ready for the Games in 2024 and beyond – the USA Taekwondo Athlete Academy.

The Academy will identify and induct the most promising young athletes in the country into an intensive program of growth as an athlete, including tailored training, detailed planning and funded participation in competitions around the world in 2019 and beyond.

High Performance Director May Spence said: “We have some incredible top-level athletes, but we are very short of depth at the world class level, and that leaves us only an injury or two away from an unacceptable situation. The Academy, which is totally focused on development athletes and headed by National Coaching Directors Paul Green and Gareth Brown will look to fix that, with a tightly targeted goal of creating depth in every division and working with athletes from a younger age than ever before, challenging our existing elite athletes to be better every day through increasing competition and creating a number of world class athletes more befitting a country of this size.”

Athletes chosen for the U.S. Athlete Academy will have access to exclusive training camps and small group work and the very best will receive funding for experiential competitions around the world designed to see if they truly have what it takes, and if they do to get them ready for the step up to true world class competition. Their development will be closely monitored, in conjunction with their home coaches, to ensure they maximize their full potential.

Executive Director Steve McNally said: “As USA Taekwondo’s financial situation continues to improve, and as we receive increased backing from the U.S. Olympic Committee who are fully supportive, and indeed demanding of work in this area we have opportunities to significantly increase funds into athlete development, while still maintaining support for our current top-level athletes. We will essentially have two separate pools of funding – one dedicated to maximizing our current position, and another dedicated to creating the future.”

We’ve invested more money in athlete development this year than perhaps ever before, and we will be increasing that investment significantly again in 2019 with a goal to enthuse, inspire and support the U.S. community in order to reclaim our place at the top of the podium more often. Which is surely what we all want to see.”

Additionally, USA Taekwondo is excited to announce that Paul Green and Gareth Brown have committed to the U.S. program through the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, with an option to extend further to 2028, and that Danielle Sweigard will be promoted to the position of National Teams Manager, working more closely than ever with all athletes across able-bodied, sparring and poomsae teams of all ages..

How will athletes be selected for the Athlete Academy?

The High-Performance Department will use numerous factors to identify athletes for development opportunities, including but not limited to:

  • Performance in the U.S. National Rankings
  • All-American Status
  • Performance at the upcoming Talent ID Camps to be held around the country
  • Performance at major USA Taekwondo events (U.S. Open, Nationals and new events to come)
  • Performance in Training Camps (ADC etc.)
  • Talent scouting/recommendation by the soon to be announced Regional Head Coaches
  • Video review

Spence continued: “We cannot stress enough the importance of putting yourself out there to be seen. We’ve dipped our toe in the water of development this year with a small group of athletes identified by our National Coaching Directors and are very excited to expand these programs out to all now that we have started to see how effective they can be. Every athlete in the U.S. will have the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and say, ‘that should be me!’. We’re looking for the best of the best, or those with the potential to be, so let’s see what you’ve got.”

The first opportunity will be the invite only Talent ID Camps, beginning in December. Invites will be sent based on your age, U.S. National Ranking/All-American status and geographical location (camps will be held around the country, to ease any travel burden). These two-day camps are an exciting new concept that will include Combine style metrics testing, training sessions with the National Team coaches and seminars detailing what it takes to be a successful Olympian.

We will confirm the dates and locations of these camps shortly, with the first happening in California in early December. Keep an eye on your email to see if you receive an invite in the next week or so!

If you aren’t invited on this occasion though that doesn’t mean you are out of the running. There will be plenty more opportunities to follow, as we look to get eyes on every potential future Olympian in the country over the next 12-18 months!

National Team Coaching Director Gareth Brown said: “Our goal is to lead USATKD towards Olympic Gold medal performances at the 2024 Paris and 2028 LA Olympic Games. To start to achieve these goals we have already begun to offer athletes training camp opportunities with exposure to G Level competitions, where performances can be analyzed in a competitive environment. Since we recently took the role of Coaching Directors, we have started and will continue talent scouting at Jr. World Championships, Team Trials, US Nationals, the upcoming Talent ID camps and G Class Competitions through attending/coaching or through analyzing video footage of performances from the above-mentioned events.”

Our role is also to support athletes currently at the top of their game where we can, along with their coaches to achieve their Tokyo Games ambition. Alongside that we are continuously looking to work with and develop talented USATKD athletes who have the potential to be Olympians in 2020, 2024 and 2028.

If you have the ambition to be an Olympic champion and want to be involved in this process make sure you take one of the opportunities to be seen, listed above. If for some reason you can’t, you can still be involved - please send an email to Dani.Sweigard@usa-taekwondo.us expressing your interest along with a brief summary of your experience at G Level competitions with video footage to support your application. We will reply with performance feedback on all video footage sent forward.”

Look for more exciting news around 2019’s plans soon!