By David Li, bostonese.com
Boston – The American Taekwondo United(ATU) National Taekwondo Championships was held in Atlanta in June 2012. More than 800 contestants from all 50 states competed in this national tournament. Elizabeth Wu, a 13-year-old from Canton, Mass. won two championships in her age group by outperforming her peers. Behind the gold medals, flowers and applause, there were sweat and tears from this talented and stubborn girl.
In a phone interview with reporter, Elizabeth’s mother Amy Wu shared the stories of her daughter’s long journey to become a champion. Elizabeth’s sister Erica is also a well-known young athlete with multiple gold medals from US and internal rhythmic gymnastics competitions.
|Mrs. Wu mentioned that Elizabeth loved all kinds of sports in her childhood, and had an indomitable fighting spirit. Elizabeth’s favorite sport was swimming, and she made rapid progress under encouragement from her father Dr. Hao Wu. She has won three first place finishes in Massachusetts stat competitions before age 11. But Elizabeth hurt her right shoulder in a training session. After resting for six months, the injury was still not fully recovered. Elizabeth had to say Goodbye with tears to the swimming pool that she loved so much.|
Elizabeth’s introduction to Taekwondo was all but an accident. One day in early 2011, she accompanied her sister Erica to the New England Sports Academy(NESA) in Westwood, Mass. Korean-American Taekwondo master Hak Jae Lee of NESA met Elizabeth, and invited her to train with him as he felt Elizabeth had the perfect physical and mental makeup to excel in Taekwondo. He promised her wining a championship within three months. Three months later, Elizabeth did indeed take home a championship in her age group in state competition in Lowell, Mass.
According to reports, Mr. Lee is from a Korean family with a long history with Taekwondo, and is a very experienced and patient coach. He is the president of the Massachusetts State Taekwondo Association. Under Mr. Lee’s coaching, coupled with her own hard work and tireless practices, Elizabeth made extraordinary progress in a short time period. She won multiple regional and state championships, and qualified to participate in the national competition.
“Facing many taller opponents in competitions, Elizabeth always buckled down and won with skills and determination,” said Mrs. Wu over the phone. Elizabeth loves Taekwondo, and thinks it’s a very good exercise for physical fitness, self-confidence, and respect for others. She also took her 9-year-old brother, Edward Wu, to Taekwondo practices.
|Besides Taekwondo, Elizabeth also fell in love with basketball last year. Despite “you are not tall enough to be a good basketball player” objections from classmates and friends, Elizabeth insisted on training every day, worked her way to became the captain of the basketball team of her school.
Elizabeth is also a good student in school. She loves to read since childhood, and is a champion of geography and spelling bee competitions. She represented her school in Massachusetts spelling bee competitions twice, and finished with good results.
When asked about her goals in the future, Elizabeth said she would strive to achieve good results in next year’s the Massachusetts and national Taekwondo competitions, and hoped to qualify for the Junior Olympic Games.