Madelynn Gorman-Shore (L) competes at a World Taekwondo Grand Slam event.
Madelynn Gorman-Shore doesn’t feel the pressure of facing top-notch competition in a major pre-Olympic taekwondo tournament. The 20-year-old from Littleton, Colorado, is only focused on continuing her recent success when she competes at this week’s 2019 World Taekwondo Championships in Manchester, England.
“I do have expectations, but it’s not a pressure kind of expectations,” Gorman-Shore said. “I’m excited to compete.
“I’m focused on this tournament primarily right now, but it’s always in the back of my mind — 2020 (Olympics) — because that’s been a dream since I was like 7.”
Gorman-Shore won a breakout Grand Slam silver medal in December and has since won six more medals in as many competitions.
The world championships begin Wednesday at Manchester Arena with 975 athletes from 150 countries and a refugee team competing under World Taekwondo’s flag. The tournament will feature eight weight classes for men and women, and Gorman-Shore’s middleweight category (-73 kg.) features several likely contenders for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Gorman-Shore, who is competing in her second world championships after reaching the round of 16 in 2017, is ranked fourth in the middleweight division heading into this tournament. Her weight class includes top-ranked and London 2012 Olympic champion Milica Mandic of Serbia, third-ranked and three-time Olympic medalist Maria Espinoza of Mexico and seventh-ranked Nafia Kus of Turkey.
Gorman-Shore lost to Espinoza in a close match on the way to a silver medal at a tournament in Bulgaria and took bronze in Spain during a pair of recent warm-up tournaments.
“I don’t really think about their past (success),” Gorman-Shore said of her competition. “I’m a much younger athlete in that division. I test my mental toughness in training. I spar with the guys and some of the quicker girls. Being put in that situation periodically has helped me, for sure.”
Gorman-Shore wants to continue to improve her mental toughness and her tactics as she prepares for a run at the Olympics. Joining USA Taekwondo’s full-time program this summer is also going to help. The new U.S. National Center of Excellence opens soon in Colorado Springs, Colorado, giving taekwondo athletes a place to live, work and train.
“I have high expectations for myself,” Gorman-Shore said. “I feel like I could do a lot better. I’m looking forward to (the full-time program), seeing the growth in myself and my teammates with this new program.”
With her hard work and recent success, Gorman-Shore could make a podium run at this week’s world championships. She took silver at the World Taekwondo Grand Slam in China in December, falling only to Great Britain’s Bianca Walkden, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, in the heavyweight (+67 kg.) division. Gorman-Shore beat U.S. teammate and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Jackie Galloway on the way to the final match.
Gorman-Shore also took silver at the US Open Taekwondo Championships in March in Las Vegas, this time competing in the middleweight (-73 kg.) category. She also helped Team USA qualify her category for this summer’s Pan American Games at a recent qualification tournament.
The string of medals has pushed Gorman-Shore to the top of the national rankings in both the middleweight (-73 kg.) and heavyweight (+73 kg.) categories. She had her choice of those divisions for the world championships and choose middleweight because her world ranking was higher.
The world championships will also impact the Olympic rankings that will decide automatic bids to Tokyo.
“(This tournament) would help me in Olympic rankings because there’s a lot of points within this tournament,” Gorman-Shore said.
The Olympics feature four weight classes for men and women, so the Olympic heavyweight (+67 kg.) division is a combination of the middleweight (-73 kg.) and heavyweight (+73 kg.) categories used at the world championships. The top five athletes in the Olympic rankings come December 2019 earn a quota spot for their country for the 2020 Games, which is the first of three methods for nations to earn spots in Tokyo.
“That’s the race right now with everybody,” Gorman-Shore said.
“This is an important tournament to decide whether you’re potentially going to the 2020 Olympics.”
Tom Glave has written for TeamUSA.org since 2011 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He covered prep and college sports for newspapers in Missouri and Arkansas for nine years and now works in the Houston area.