MILLBURN, NJ - from June 28 through July 4, the USA Taekwondo National Championships took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Two Millburn students, Jhanvi and Devin Wong, participated in the tournament and won in several areas.
This event is run by Team USA, the organization that chooses the teams and individuals to compete on behalf of America in the Olympics. The best competitors in the country travel to compete in the event from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds.
Jhanvi Wong, a rising fifth-grader at Washington School, won silver in Poomsae (form), bronze in Sparring (Female Youth, Blue Belt, Fin Weight group), ranked fourth for Fin Weight and ranked ninth in the Lightweight Division.
Devin Wong, a rising third-grader at Wyoming School, won gold in Poomsae (form), silver in Sparring (Male Tiger, Yellow Belt, Fin Weight group) and ranked second in Fin Weight.
All of these medals and rankings were on a national level. To make it to this tournament, both kids had to go through a rigorous qualification process, winning state tournaments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The journey to the tournament was a long and intense one. To start, both athletes have been training for years. Jhanvi began Taekwondo when she was three and Devin began when he was two. Since that time, they both continued working hard to make it on the official Taekwondo team.
During their three, three-hour-long practices per week year-round, Jhanvi and Devin would go through sparring, stretching, form practice, and technique work.
One aspect of the sport both kids stressed was mental. Beyond physical exertion having to continue through frustration and fatigue, Jhanvi explained Taekwondo “disciplines you and it also helps you learn a lot.”
Outside of the rigorous practices, both kids were also expected to exercise regularly at home to keep up strength and to maintain a certain weight.
This circles back to the discipline aspect of the sport. No matter what is felt in the moment, Taekwondo athletes must act with a larger goal in mind.
When asked how he coped with the pressure of competing in such a high-stakes tournament, Devin said, “no matter how big your nervousness is, you just have to believe in yourself.”
From a parent’s perspective, Jhanvi and Devin’s father, Raymond Wong described the joy he felt seeing his kids compete and succeed. Any sacrifices made in terms of his time to help his kids succeed was entirely worth it.
Wong said “to see them competing on a national level, it kind of blows our minds, my wife’s and I’s. It makes us super proud.”