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USA National Poomsae Team Contests Live Divisions at Online World Poomsae Championships, Earns Two Gold, Two Silver and Four Bronze

Dec. 14, 2020, 4:17 p.m. (ET)

(Dec. 14, 2020) 11 members of the USA National Poomsae Team competed from Dec. 7-12 in the live portion of the Online World Poomsae Championships, earning an impressive two gold, two silver, and four bronze medals. Including two additional freestyle athletes, a total of 13 members of the USA team advanced to the finals of the G-2 portion of the event, more than any other country. Two cadet (12-14 year old) members of the team also advanced to the final round of the WT Open portion of the Championships, for a total of 15 Team USA athletes in the finals.
 
The two goldmedalists were Elva Adams (Female Under 60) and Barbara Brand (Female Under 65), with both becoming first time world poomsae champions in their respective divisions (see below for more details), and helping to place USA at second overall in the current standings. The final standings for the G-2 event will be determined at the conclusion of the Freestyle event on Dec. 14-15, as will the Cadet, Junior and Family Open Division results.
 
Athletes competed at 9pm Korea time, which was 4a PST and 7a EST, meaning that they had to rise early and shift their schedules in advance of the performance and compete live against athletes from all around the globe. 
 
Head of Team Ron Southwick said, "What a fantastic performance by our US Poomsae Team!  From their homes, gyms, yards, and garages, they have given a World-Class performance for a unique and challenging online competition. Though I miss hearing my teammates' cheers and the crowd's roar, I could not be more proud as they have adapted to the current challenges that we and the world face. Go Team USA!"
 
Added Head Coach Dan Chuang, "I was struck by the intensity of these live rounds of competition - they felt as competitive and tension-filled as prior World Poomsae Championships. Our athletes were well prepared and trained hard for this event, and it showed. Special congratulations to our two first-time world champions, Elva Adams and Barbara Brand, and I cannot wait to see how our freestyle and cadet athletes do in their final rounds over the coming days."
 
On Dec. 7, online competition began with the male and female Under 50 divisions performing Koryo and Jitae. Pok Sun Yang earned a silvermedal, with a composite score just 0.05 off of the many-time gold medalist from Korea. Said Yang, "During [this event], I permanently closed my taekwondo dojang for the first time since 1999. It was very challenging for me to stay focused mentally and physically ... I had to move chairs, set up mats, hang banners to cover the wall, then wait until 4:00AM to compete. From 40 years of Taekwondo training, I learned not to give up easily." It was Yang's 2nd world silver medal in this division, repeating his feat from the 2016 Worlds.

Next up was Thoa Nguyen, earning a bronze medal with a 4th place finish in her division, just 0.05 off of silver (Finland). Said Thoa Nguyen, "Representing the USA means a lot to me, and I want the world to see that uniqueness that is the USA. This was my last worlds in this division, and this medal is for all the aging athletes that still have it!" It was Thoa Nguyen's second world medal in this division coming off of a gold medal performance in 2016.

On Dec. 8, Alex Lee and Ester Jo represented in the Under 30 division, performing Keumgnag and Pyongwon, two forms requiring balance. Alex Lee earned a silver medal for USA with a steady performance, behind only Korea and beating out powerhouses Iran and Turkey. It was Alex's first time representing the USA as the under 30 Male, and it was USA's first medal in this division. Said Lee, "It's truly the biggest honor to be the first Senior 1 Individual Male to medal at the world championships. Although this one was online, I hope to be able to come back and bring home a medal from an in person world championships as well!"

Ester Jo then competed and improved on her eighth place seeding, finishing seventh overall with an outstanding performance featuring spectacular kicks. Said Jo, "Although the competition was a bit different this year, I felt honored to represent the USA at my very first World Championships in my first year as a senior. Worlds was a huge dream of mine, so I'm thankful that we were able to have the event at all, online or in-person. Lastly, I would like to personally thank my family for physically being there for me throughout my entire taekwondo journey and everyone else who supported and cheered for me!"

On Dec. 9, competition continued with the Under 40 competition. Kathy Do, representing for the first time as the under 40 individual team member, earned seventh place in a tightly packed field on Taegeuk 8 and Taebaek. Said Do, "After being disappointed that World Championships in Denmark were cancelled due to COVID-19, I am very grateful for the opportunity to compete at the Online World Championships. Although it cannot replace the live experience, it has been a positive and rewarding experience.  It gave me something to work towards during the pandemic and provided me with the focus and motivation to maintain my training, which in turn kept me healthy in body and in mind." 

On Dec. 10, the under 60 divison was contested with Taebaek and Shipjin. Eun Lee led off with a bronze medal in a very tough and experienced division. Said Lee, "I feel extremely happy to get the bronze medal and very honored to be in this position to represent my country. I thank Coach Sangjae Lee, Head Coach Dan Chuang, and the Team Staff." It was Lee's second world medal, coming off a silver medal performance at the 2018 World Poomsae Championships in Taipei.

Following Lee was Elva Pai Adams, who notched an historic gold medal for the USA, the first ever in the under 60 division, and the first for Team USA in the week. Adams scored just behind her rival competitor from Korea on Taebaek, but came back with the highest score of the division on Shipjin for the win over the multiple world champion from Korea. Said Adams, "I have been practicing Taekwondo for over three decades, and I’ve finally achieved my goal by claiming world champion title in both Kyorugi and Poomsae. My words of inspiration: 'Procrastination or making excuses will often prevent you from reaching your goal. Patience, persistence and perseverance will lead you to victory!'" It was Adams' 4th world poomsae medal, and her first gold. Adams won the World Taekwondo (Sparring) Championships in 1987, and an Olympic bronze medal in 1988.

On Dec. 11, the Under 65 divisions were contested with Jitae and Hansu. James Park led off the day with an impressive performance that tied him for second, but the presentation tiebreak pushed him to bronze, and he was just 0.05 off of 1st place. Said Park, "First of all, I want to thank my coach David [Turgeon] and all of the coaches and managers for their hard work. I've learned a lot from this special training for the World Championships. My goal was at least to earn a medal. After placing fourth in the semifinal round, I fixed my low body position, and focused on body movement and eye contact to achieve my goal. I am very happy and proud of being part of the USA Team and many thanks to Head Coach Dan Chuang, Jan Trigg and the managers and leaders."

Following Park was Barbara Brand, who was also a team coach. Brand, who returned from a 9 year hiatus from being on the team, earned her first world gold medal after 3 prior world bronzes. Said Brand, "When I stepped onto the mat, announced the poomsae, went to junbi and bowed, I was struck by a surprise wave of gratitude for the opportunity to represent the USA, to compete at the World Championships, and to have a medal shot. Since then, that wave has grown into an overwhelming appreciation for earning a gold medal, for the support of my family, Sacramento Taekwondo Club, USAT poomsae teammates, Head Coach Dan Chuang and staff, and of course the early female pioneers of USAT poomsae, Noreen Thackery, Akiko Reyes, and those who have been part of USA Poomsae every step of the way: David Turgeon, Garth Cooley and Ron Southwick."

The competition concluded on Dec. 12 with the Over 65 divisions with Keumgang and Chonkwon. Chi Duong earned an impressive 5th world championships medal, with a bronze performance. It was an emotional performance for Duong, with the passing of his wife Tieu Phung earlier this year present in his mind. Said Duong, " I would like to thank the Team USA staff and coaches for all their hard work. The challenges I had to overcome in training and performing include a torn ACL and an injured rotator cup. But the most painful challenge was in my heart and mind. Every form, every move in doing taekwondo; my heart sank with the memories of my wife who would normally run around to take pictures. I wept during practices and was exhausted physically and mentally."

Following this emotional performance was first time national team member Tweedy Nguyen. She performed well, tying for fourth with France, but unfortunately the presentation tiebreak pushed her down to fifth. Said Nguyen, "After missing being on the USA Team in previous years, I tried harder this time to be on the team and made it. I was able to go to the final round at the World Championships, tying the bronze Medalist. I put a lot of effort and hard work into making my dream come true."

The Head of Team for Team USA is Ron Southwick. The head coach of the team is Dan Chuang, with coaches Barbara Brand, Giduk Gun, Jung Hwan Jin, Sangjae Lee, Huy Nguyen, Long Nguyen and David Turgeon supporting the athletes. The managers are Jan Trigg and Sarah Lavan.
 
The final Freestyle and Open rounds will be broadcast Dec. 14-15 by World Taekwondo on YouTube.