SAN JOSE, Calif. — Simon Rodriguez became Salt Lake City’s first ever Taekwondo fighter to qualify for tryouts with the USA National Team earlier this month.
He earned that honor at the USA Taekwondo National, where five of his teammates from Salt Lake’s Pace Academy also scored big, walking away with two gold and three bronze medals from the competition.
Rodriguez, who also competes for the University of Utah, battled through three rounds in the Senior Black Belt Flyweight Division on July 2, emerging among the final four of 20 contestants and earning a chance to compete for a spot on the national team this November in Colorado.
To secure a place on the team, Simon must attain the best score in a round-robin event where he and the others trying out will fight current USA team members.
“Simon making it to team trials … is a huge accomplishment,” said Will Pace, his coach.
Rodriguez’s teammates from the Pace Academy won two gold medals — from Steven Cottom and Isaiah Uribe — in junior divisions. Taking bronze medals were John Ford, who competed as a yellow belt in the Blue Belt Senior Grassroots Sparring Division, and Woody Lloyd and Tevin Iriye Hong, who competed in the Green Belt Division.
“I am so proud of everyone who competed,” said Pace. “From our kids to our adults, (they) all represented the school with heart.”