Returning Champions Spotlight, Part 5

By Bill Kellick | June 10, 2019, 11:27 p.m. (ET)

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

Ashleigh Ogan

Hometown: Carson, California


Division/category: Junior Female -42kg (Fin) 


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals: I had a very positive experience and throughout the entire day, I felt endless amounts of support from my family and teammates. Securing 1st at this nationals has established my 7th time as USA National Champion.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? I felt overwhelmed with joy, but at the same time, it is just one more step i have to conquer to getting to my ultimate goal, Olympics.


What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? I enjoyed redeeming myself from last years nationals and just going there and fighting my heart out until the very last second.


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? I remember going out after i was declared champion and seeing my sister crying tears of joy and giving me a big hug. After that, I immediately called my mom and hearing her say how proud she was of me brought me so many emotions along with a huge smile on my face. with my teammates giving me their endless support throughout the entire experience.


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? I am looking forward to replicating the same effort, plus more in the senior female -46kg division.


What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? I have continued training consistently, as well as worked on strengthening my mentality. 

Alena Viana

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Division/category: Junior female, -68kg


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals:  It was a great experience because there were lots of great athletes.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion?It was exciting to win a gold medal and to be recognized as an All-American Athlete.


What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? I really enjoyed that Nationals had great referees, ran on time, and finished at a reasonable time so that I was able to enjoy the rest of the time celebrating with my team.

 


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? My friends and family were proud of my success and hard work.

 


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? I am looking forward to watching great athletes, competing with new people in my division, and being part of the tag team event.

 


What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? I have been training consistently with my coaches and team in Texas, as well as attending international training camps and competitions.

Vlado Duvnjak

Hometown: Andover, Minnesota


Division/category: Heavy weight, junior


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals: It was an amazing experience. Competing with the best in the country is something we train for every day.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? It felt as all of the hard work paid off. It kind of validated all that we do has that end in sight and to be winning the top spot was awesome. This wasn't my first time winning the nationals- but this by far has been the best. 


What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? I enjoyed competing at this level but I also enjoyed seeing familiar faces and continuing building friendships with people across the nation with the same love for taekwondo that I have. 


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? They were all very happy and proud of me. The knew I put my heart and soul into this and to see it flourish like this at the end was amazing. 


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? I am looking forward to continue seeing hard work pay off! I am excited to compete in senior division this year and continue learning. In addition, for the first time in my taekwondo career ( and I have done this since I was 5) the nationals are in my hometown so all of my family and friends will be there! 

 

What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? I have continued training hard throughout the year day in and day out. This included running to increase endurance and different opportunities such as training camps in Korea to continue building my skills. 

 

Zak Day

Hometown: Littleton Colorado


Division/category: Junior -73KG Black Belt


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals: My experience was very memorable. Not only by winning the medal, but being around my Taekwondo family and friends.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? I was very excited about it. I expected it though from being that year's national team member. I came into nationals to prove to myself that I was number one in the nation.


What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? I enjoyed the fighting obviously. Every match that I fought was fun and competitive. My coach and I were on the same page that day. When coaching and fighting come together, good things happen.


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? My family was very proud of me for me winning. They all congratulated me afterwards. My friends were super excited, too. I had support from my friends and family all around the country that were watching the live stream. Most of all, I had the biggest support from my number one fan, my sister.


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? I am most looking forward to stepping into the senior -74kg division and am looking forward to making the podium. This is starting a new chapter in my fighting career.


What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? I have trained a lot harder for this because of the longer rounds and the harder competition.