Taekwondo arrived to the USA in the late 70s and it began to grow in popularity and learning desire, it was not until the second half of the 80s when the first athletes began to emerge and it was precisely in 1988, when the land where taekwondo was born organized the Olympic Games than the US saw its first champions earn Olympic gold.
One of them, Dana Hee (although she was born as Dana Lynn Davidson) began her run in martial arts at the beginning of the 80s, curiously she began practicing karate and it was not until 1984 that she decided to move to taekwondo instead. Aside from her gold medal in Seoul, she also earned championships all over USA after which she moved to the entertainment business where she became an actress and stuntwoman.
Alongside Hee, was one Arlen Limas, a woman of combined Mexican and Polish descent, she earned gold medals both in the 1988 Seoul Olympic games as well as the Athens’s world championship of 1991. She competed for several more years and her achievements earned her the right to be in the taekwondo hall of fame.
Four years later the Olympic games in Barcelona saw a new champion win the gold medal: Herbert Perez. Perez went on to win World Championships later and after went to seek success in the entertainment business.
After an absence in Atlanta 1996, the US once more saw Gold in the Olympic Games in the hands of Steven Lopez who did not only captured gold in Sydney 2000 but repeated his feat four years later in Athens and got to get bronze in Beijing in 2008. He was deep in controversy in 2006 when the use of a medicine inhaler caused him to test positive for banned substance which resulted in a six-month suspension and forced participation in an anti-doping program.
And of course, and in what has become a common factor, Lopez also went and tried for success in entertainment where he participated in several shows to ultimately open his own taekwondo school where he teaches and prepares the new generations of champions.
It is interesting to comment on this phenomenon where athletes that find success in Olympic competition are either looked for or they seek an opportunity in entertainment, although it is not easy, some have found a new career in this.
Unfortunately for the US the latest Olympic games have not proven to be their best in taekwondo as gold has evaded the US Taekwondo athletes with Paige McPherson, Terrence Jennings (in London) and Jackie Galloway (in Rio de Janeiro) only been able to earn bronze medals.
Now everything is getting prepared for what will come in Tokyo 2020, where not only the US will see a new opportunity to earn Olympic gold and recover its place in history.
New athletes are getting ready at this time to participate and become the new champions in this martial art that is an example of dedication, discipline and, as we have always said it, a way of life.