Returning Champions Spotlight, Part 4

By Bill Kellick | June 08, 2019, 12:08 a.m. (ET)

In the weeks leading up to the 2019 USA Taekwondo National Championships, we will be highlighting returning National Champions. Enjoy the fourth installment below...

Aiden BevelAidan Bevel

Hometown: Simi Valley, California


Division/category: Cadet -53kg (Now Cadet -61kg)


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals: I have been competing at USATKD Nationals since I was 6 years old. It has always been challenging and as I get older it gets harder. I had a great time competing against all the athletes in my division.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? This was my third time winning Nationals but this has been the most thrilling. Being named a Cadet Team Member and National Champion is an honor.



What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? I enjoyed fighting people I had not fought before and some that I had and winning gold


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? Everyone was very proud of me. They were happy that I had accomplished something I had trained so hard for.


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? I would like to go all the way to have the same outcome as last year. I would like to go to Cadet Worlds and fight for the USA


What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? I have trained harder this year with my Kings Team and other high caliber athletes. I have worked on myself to make me a stronger fighter. I dedicated my extra time to other preparations not just physical but mental.

Lauren Lee

Hometown: Minnesota

Division/category: Cadet- 55


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals: For the most part it was a great experience and I always have a blast while I’m there!


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? It feels great to be one of the best in the country and to be able to represent our country. It is also nice to see how my hard work pays off.

What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? I liked being able to cheer and watch other athletes and my teammates. I also really liked where it was because Utah was a beautiful, calm place to have it.


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? They were all very proud of me and always complimented me on how much hard work I put into Taekwondo and how I deserved it. 


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? Being able to compete with other juniors and working my hardest to make it on the junior national team. Also I am very exited that this years nationals is in my hometown which should be super fun!


What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? I have focused more on Taekwondo and working out as much/hard as I can. I also have been running more to help get my endurance up.

Melia Njoku-Lopez

Hometown: Wichita, Kansas 


Division/category: Junior/Senior 46kgs


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals: I look forward to USATKD National Championships every year.  I enjoy competing against great athletes/friends from across the United States.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? The 2018 National Championships has been the most memorable Nationals for me.  It was my first time winning the USATKD National Championships.  I had an injury that kept me from competing in the 2017 Nationals so it was such an amazing feeling to win the competition in 2018 and be named the National Champion.


What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? What I enjoyed most about last year’s National Championships was winning the competition and having my family, friends, and teammates there to experience it with me.


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? My family is always so supportive.  They were so excited and very proud of me for winning the 2018 National Championships.  My family knew how disappointed I was in 2017 when I was unable to compete in Nationals because of an injury so that made winning the USATKD National Championships in 2018 very special for all of us.


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? This upcoming Nationals, I am looking forward to competing against great athletes.  I am a junior but will be competing in the senior division which will be challenging but I am hoping to earn the title of National Champion again in 2019.  I am also looking forward to seeing my “Taekwondo Family” at Nationals.  They are the many friends I have made across the United States through the sport of Taekwondo.  

 

What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? I am preparing for this year’s National Championships by being consistent with my training schedule, giving 100% at each practice, having a positive mindset, and believing in myself.  I am so grateful to have Master Ron Brockman as my coach and to have great teammates because they push me to be my best.

 

Anastasija Zolotic

Hometown: Largo, Florida


Division/category: Junior 55kg / Senior 53kg


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals: My experience is more then great. I love coming to Nationals because it lets me fight against many talented athletes who are fighting to be the best in the nation. My experience at Nationals has helped me with moving forward in my career, talent- and confidence-wise.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? I felt absolutely amazing! For me, personally, I think that any win is worth enjoying because it’s always a special moment getting to step on top of the podium and knowing all the hard work paid off. Nationals is a great event to win gold at because you get that feeling of satisfaction that you are the best!


What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? I enjoyed the layout of the event as well as the people who were participating and running it. Everyone was very helpful and friendly. I also enjoyed how well they managed to make everything on time from start to finish. 


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? My friends and family said they were extremely proud of me. They both enjoy coming out to watch me fight whenever they can, so they say it’s always a pleasure watching and an even bigger pleasure when I win.


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? I am looking forward to putting all my hard work on display and showing everyone what I am capable of doing. I am also looking forward to seeing familiar faces and enjoying a well organized event.


What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? I have trained very hard for many hours each day. I have pushed myself beyond my limits to try and perfect every mistake that could be made. I also spent a lot of time talking to my coach and figuring out what is best for me.