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On July 16–20, MIT Sport Taekwondo Coach Dan Chuang traveled to Belgrade, Serbia to serve as a US National Collegiate Taekwondo Team Coach. The US Team consisted of five coaches and sixteen athletes (eight men and eight women). The sixteen competitors from the US were part of a field of 285 athletes from 42 nations competing in the 2008 World University Taekwondo Championships.

The 2008 championships marked the tenth time the event has been held and the first time it has taken place in Serbia. The event, which is held every two years, draws collegiate athletes from around the world including Taekwondo powerhouses like Korea, Taiwan, Iran, China and Spain.

The competitors on the US team earned their team spots through a selection process that required placing in the top 4 at the National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships on April 26 at Stanford University, and then coming out on top of their weight class at the US National Collegiate Team Trials in Highlands Ranch, Colorado on May 17.

The competitors were supported by a team of ten officials: coaches, managers, referees, and a team doctor. Chuang served as the ringside coach for four athletes: Jermaine James from Edison College, Nir Moriah from Rice University, Luke Ford from Nova Southeastern University, and bronze medalist John Duhart from Menlo College. Among these athletes, James and Moriah both reached the quarterfinals, Ford lost a close match to Taekwondo powerhouse Korea, and Duhart won his bronze medal after winning matches against Kenya and Egypt, but falling to the Korean gold medalist in the semifinals. Duhart’s medal was the only medal for the US team on the first day of the competition. Overall, the US team came away with two bronze medals and one silver medal.

Chuang described his perspective on working with the athletes: “It was a great experience working with some of the best Taekwondo athletes in the country. My role was basically to establish a rapport with the athletes during the preparation period of the competition, provide technical support during the training sessions, and to give tactical advice during the matches. I had worked with Jermaine James before, but the other athletes, we had to get on the same page quickly. I thought they all performed very well and gave it everything they had in the ring.”

Now back in the states, Chuang is leading the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club into another competitive season in the Ivy/Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League, kicking off with MIT’s home tournament on Saturday, October 25.

More information on the World University Championships is available online at http://www.usa-taekwondo.us/