USA Taekwondo News Returning Champions ...

Returning Champions Spotlight Part 7

By Bill Kellick | June 19, 2019, 9:03 p.m. (ET)

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

Zachary Hampton

Hometown: Austin, TX


Division/category: -Junior < 73 Kg 2019 


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals: 2018 was my first year to compete in USATKD Nationals. I went up against some tough competition and had some close matches. I was fortunate enough to bring home the gold. It was the result of years of training with two great masters and required the support of my family.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? It was an incredible feeling to reach that achievement. It was great to have all my training pay off at Nationals. It opened my eyes to a higher level of competition and gave me the confidence to set even more challenging goals.


What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? I enjoyed being with so many like-minded athletes and coaches. It was exciting for my family and friends to be able to watch my finals match on the elevated stage, live streaming, with the professional  commentary. The atmosphere was full of positivity and excitement for the sport. Winning at Nationals also gave me the opportunity to be on the Cadet National Team. I really enjoyed the team camaraderie on Team USA and I was very proud to bring home the gold for Team USA at the President's Cup.


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? They said they were thrilled and so happy for me. They expressed pride in me for what I have accomplished and cannot wait to see what my future holds. 


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? I am looking forward to facing the challenges of being a first-year junior. I am eager to compete against the impressive competition that I will face at Nationals this year. 


What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? Master Kim and I have taken training to a whole new level. We have been focusing on improving technique. We have been studying recent matches of great competitors and learning new skills as the sport of taekwondo continues to evolve.

Hannah Keck

Hometown: Plano, TX

Division/category: Junior Female +68 kg (Heavy); Senior Female +73 kg (Heavy)


Tell us about your experience in USATKD Nationals:  At first it was a bit overwhelming because it was my first Nationals competing in sparring (at previous Nationals I had only competed in poomsae and other non-sparring events), but after my first fight I relaxed and just fought to the best of my abilities.


How did you feel about winning gold and being named a National Champion? I don’t usually get emotional when I win, but Nationals 2018 was a big exception - I just remember hugging my mom with tears rolling down my face, and hearing my sister screaming with excitement.

 

What did you enjoy about last year’s Nationals? That it was in Salt Lake City - I had never been to Utah, and was not expecting for SLC to be as cool of a place as it was. I also liked that the All-Americans/national champions were celebrated and were in the spotlight. My team’s camaraderie made nationals even more awesome. And I enjoyed getting to know the girls in my division better.


What did your friends and family say about you being a National Champion? My family, teammates, and coaches just kept reminding me that they “knew I could do it” and how proud they were of me winning Nationals so early in my career.


What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s National Championships? This is my last junior Nationals, so I am just happy that there isn’t really pressure on me. I’m also so excited to return to Nationals as the reigning champ and defend my title. I am a member of the Texas varsity tag team as well, so high school Nationals will be great practice for future tag team events. I’m also looking forward to fighting in the senior heavyweight division again this year – I earned bronze last year, and hope to make that a gold this year.

 


What have you done training-wise to prepare for this year’s National Championships? My team and I already train very hard, but we’ve really stepped it up this year. I’ve taken my experiences fighting at high-level events and honed in on improvements that my coaches and I felt needed to be made. I am ready!

Related Athletes

head shot

Zachary Hampton

head shot

Hannah Keck