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article imageTexas Family Makes History At Olympic Games In Tae Kwon Do But Can They Kick Higher?

By Nikki Weingartner     Aug 16, 2008 in Sports
United States Olympic Tae Kwon Do Team on the brink of history with the first three family members on a team since 1904 having a chance at gold. One member of this Texas family already has two gold medals from previous Olympic games. Is a third likely?
With less than a week away from the start of Olympic Tae Kwon Do sparring, another historical possibility is just a kick away.
Olympic Tae Kwon Do is very specific, yet simplistic in all its high-speed glory. Each team is allowed up to four competing athletes with two of each gender. The United States team has taken it a step further.
Since 1904 when the Tritscher brothers competed together on the US Olympic team in men’s gymnastics, there has not been a family of three on the same team to represent America. The Tritscher’s did not get the medals. For the Tae Kwon Do team with brother Steven Lopez who has already won two Gold Medals for the United States, one in Sydney and one in Athens, this team has a chance to be the first family trio to take home a trio of golds.
The Lopez family began kicking it when their oldest brother and US Olympic Tae Kwon Do team coach, Jean, started taking classes at a dojo located near the family’s home, according to an MSNBC news report. Since then, the killer Texas quads have moved into a whole new ring of family squabbles that goes beyond “who touched who” in the backseat of the family truckster.
Mark, who is 26, and Diana, 24, both missed making the 2004 Olympic team. However, they went on and won the gold in the world championships.
Are they contenders at the 2008 games? You bet. All three fighters are gold medal contenders at the Beijing games. And where would they be without their big brother and coach to give them the nudge they need. Jean is no stranger to the ring either, earning silver at the 1995 world championships and now owner of Elite Tae Kwon Do in Sugarland, Texas.
Olympic Tae Kwon Do is relatively new to the games, only becoming an official Olympic sport in 2002. In general, a sparring match is based upon weight class and runs for three rounds, each being two-minutes in length.
Points are tallied based upon powerful strikes to the opponent’s trunk, covered with a shield, and specific face and head areas. Strikes are made using very specific techniques and failure to execute using the technique can result in penalty points and even disqualification.
A striking point is awarded if the opponent’s body abruptly moves from the impact of the strike or knocks the opponent down.
One point is awarded for legal trunk strikes and two points are awarded for legal face and ear strikes using kicks and the winner of the sparring match is the athlete with the most points, minus any deductions. A winner may be declared if there is a KO or by default in the event of a disqualification, competitor accumulates a certain number of penalties, if one fighter has a 7-point lead or the first fighter to reach the 12-point ceiling.
Not so easy, is it? And if you were wondering who the fourth member of the United State’s Tae Kwon Do Olympic team might be? She is a 17-year-old California native named Charlotte Craig. The baby of the squad isn’t so babyish either, taking her first gold in the nationals at the age of 14. Along with Diana and Mark, this is "Charley’s" first Olympics.
Each one will fight in their own weight class, with Charlotte weighing in at under 100 lbs (less than 49 kilograms), she will be the first one out when the event starts on August 20th. Diana, who will compete in the featherweight division of 57 kilograms (126 lbs) or less and Mark who will be competing in his own weight class of 69 kilograms (150 lbs) or less both begin their matches on August 21st. The two-time Olympic gold winning champion begins his welterweight division of 80 kilograms (176 lbs) or less on August 22nd.
The major competitors for the American team will be the South Koreans, who have never missed a medal at the Olympics since the games began. Of course, Tae Kwon Do takes its roots in Korea. There are no South Koreans in Steven Lopez's weight division, leaving it up to Iran and Turkey as the main rivals for the gold.
Good luck to the Lopez family, including their adopted member, Charlotte Craig and remember:
The family that kicks together sticks together
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