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MIT Senior Excels At Taekwondo In National Collegiate Tournament

Wins Gold at Sparring, Earns Top Seed in Collegiate Team Trials

By Gina Kim

TEAM MEMBER

Christina S. Park ’02 represented MIT in the 26th Annual National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships in Austin, Texas. Teams from over 100 universities competed in this tournament, which is the highest level of competition for collegiate Taekwondo in the country.

The forms competition commenced on the evening of Friday, October 26, beginning with the color belt divisions, then moving to the championship black-belt division. In forms, each competitor performs a set of choreographed blocks, punches, and kicks, and is judged on a ten point scale based on balance, power, agility, and control. Park took the gold by a tenth of a point in women’s third degree black belt forms.

Saturday’s sparring competition, consisted of eight rings of full contact, continuous sparring. On the Collegiate level most of the matches consist of two rounds of two minutes. However, the finals are three rounds of two minutes. Three judges use triggers to electronically score points kicked to the body or head. Two out of three judges must simultaneously agree on a point for it to count.

Though this was Park’s first Collegiate Nationals, she entered the women’s Middleweight division with confidence in her experience, having medaled at Nationals and U.S. Team Trials last year. Her first match was against a competitor from Oklahoma State, whom she dominated 6-0 in the first round. After the first round, Park returned to the ring to find that her opponent had forfeited.

Her semi-final opponent, from George Washington University, could not figure out Park’s game, consistently walking into back kicks and being knocked back. The final score of 14-1 carried Park into the finals.

The finals match of the Middleweight division, towards the end of the tournament, drew a large crowd. Park’s opponent, from Kirtland Community College, was last year’s Heavyweight silver medalist. The Middleweight division was new to both competitors, as Park had just recently moved up from Welterweight. However, the weight difference did not faze Park, as she controlled the match through the three rounds, dominating her opponent with several head shots and back kicks. Even though computer problems resulted in scoring discrepancies, the match could not be taken away from Park in the end, and she won the gold.

The first place finish at this level qualifies Park as the number one seed going into the Collegiate Team Trials, which will be held in Kansas City, Missouri in April. The top six competitors in each division will fight in a round-robin tournament to determine the Collegiate National Team member in each division to represent the United States in the World University Taekwondo Championships this June. Park’s achievements add to the continuing success of the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club.