been nearly ten years since the U.S. Open Taekwondo Championships were
held in Las Vegas. The competition started early on Thursday, February
12th. Eager young hopefuls and skilled veterans filled the Tropicana
Hotel readying themselves for an intensive three days of competition.
You can always note the telltale signs of a fighter: backpack full of
gear and nutrients; sweats emblazoned with team logos; headphones
keeping outside distractions at bay; and a mask of concentration. Once
they stepped inside the ring it was all business. Screams of
preparation and in acknowledgment of a point scored sounded out from
the first time in the history of the U.S. Open the fighters wore the
LaJust Electronic Body Protectors as a scoring system to more
accurately track points with each strike. Hits to the body are one
point each, where a legal headshot would be two.
are excited and gratified to see unprecedented worldwide support for
this important event," said USA Taekwondo CEO David Askinas. "The U.S.
Open has long been recognized as one of the premiere world events in
the sport of taekwondo and USA Taekwondo is known for running the
highest level events in the world. We worked very hard to secure a
venue in Las Vegas for this event. We also dedicated ourselves to
marketing the event for the last six months domestically and
internationally and those efforts have clearly paid off. I also think
it is fair to say that there is clearly interest in attending a high
level taekwondo competition featuring the LaJust electronic body
protector scoring system. There is a very good chance this system will
be chosen for the upcoming world championships. If you combine all of
those factors with the international lure of a Las Vegas vacation there
was definitely a chance to make history this year. We are investigating
the possibility of making Las Vegas a semi-permanent home for the event
and we will be polling our customer base to gauge their interest in
returning to Las Vegas in future years."
59 different nations were represented, including 17 national teams and
13 Olympians from the 2008 Beijing Games. The U.S. contingent was
represented in 47 states and 2008 Olympian Charlotte Craig headlined
the list of U.S. Senior Team members taking part in the international
competition. Craig was joined by fellow 2007 Senior National Team
members Brian Gallagher, Luis Reyes, Dalia Avivi and Eleni
Koutsilianos, as well as 2006 Senior Team member Lauren Cahoon. It was
an international competition to test against the best. Matches were set
so each competitor was fighting a skill set from a different country,
something unique they were not accustomed to fighting.
fighters from every age and weight class were present.. Each
represented different training camps and each brought their enthusiasm
and intensity, including Nancy McClane from Team Lee fighting out of
Texas in the 41-50 division who, after winning her first round,
remarked: "I like meeting other ladies my age who compete. It's fun."
Day brought no shortage of fighting. Hearts were pumping and
competition remained fierce. Your head was on a swivel trying to keep
up with all the action in the various rings. Lots of aerials and
attempts at aerials were presented this day. Spin wheel kicks to the
head seemed to be the emphasis as China took on Mexico in Ring 1 during
the 14 and up division.
final day of competition brought out the cream of the crop. These
fighters knew their skills and knew them well. As Mexico took on the
Dominican Republic a well placed side kick to the chest flattened
Mexico early on. In the stands friends, fans, and supporters of Team
Jalisco from Mexico began a chant to fire up their countryman and keep
him in the fight.
of the major upsets of the championships came when Breanna Bordon took
on Danielle Pelham. Bordon, a local Las Vegas fighter without a lot of
fight time, went in as the expected underdog against the seasoned
Pelham. The fight turned out to be a classic.. At one point Pelham took
a toe to the eye but she did not falter. The fight went into sudden
death overtime and it was Bordon who scored the upset.
Ceremonies and awards followed to conclude an amazing weekend of competition.
addition, the U.S. Olympic Committee will be producing a highlight
airing from this year's U.S. Open in Las Vegas. The 40-50 minute
webcast will appear soon after the event on the USOC's website,