We flooded out onto the streets of Phoenix carrying the Argentine flag together and waving it. Passing drivers honked their horns as we jumped and sang in the middle of the city. After so many years of rolling up our sleeves and fighting, we finally made history for our country.
PHOENIX, Arizona ꟷ During the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) World Championship from July 10-16, 2023, the team I coached took the world title in the sparring and songahmen modalities. The Argentine Taekwondo team stood out early, beating South Africa in the quarterfinals and Chile in the semifinals. For 12 years we chased the gold medal, shooting for the highest award in Taekwondo in the world. This year in Phoenix we finally achieved our dream.
Winning the 2023 American Taekwondo Association Championship felt epic. When we faced off against the United States in the finals, it seemed unthinkable we might beat them. They trained hard, prepared well, had substitutes and a world-class coach, but our Argentine grit, hunger, and passion remained unmatched.
Inside the competition arena in the convention center, the stands overflowed with Americans. During the finals, they cheered and celebrated. Having traveled from another country, we had no fans to cheer us on.
As we faced the closing matches, the two women on our team performed superbly. As the final bout unfolded, I sat at the main table, containing myself as a matter of formality. I felt my body constantly moving. Restlessness consumed me and I rubbed my hands together, clapping softly from time to time.
I cheered between my teeth as my chest burned. With each beat of my heart, I could feel victory. Suddenly, as I watched our fighter gain momentum, I shot out of my seat and shouted. I let out a fierce roar of pure emotion. My tablemates turned abruptly and smiled at me. I raised my fist and shouted, “Let’s go! Let’s fucking go,” and I ran to the track.
The tide was turning as Argentina took the lead against the United States. The loud crowd full of American fans went silent. You could cut the air with a knife. Then suddenly we won, and I felt tears falling down my face. “I can’t believe it,” my mind shouted. A flurry of thoughts ran through my head as I considered the effort it took to get to that point. An explosion of euphoria consumed all of us. For a moment, we stood frozen.
As we made eye contact, we erupted and started jumping and hugging like crazy. The boys took out a flag and began waving it. “We are champions,” we shouted, as we formed a circle and embraced. “We are champions!”
When the activities ended, we flooded out onto the streets of Phoenix carrying the Argentine flag together and waving it. Passing drivers honked their horns as we jumped and sang in the middle of the city. After so many years of rolling up our sleeves and fighting, we finally made history for our country. The prize and the recognition meant so much to us.
For me, Taekwondo is pure joy. It is what grounds me and serves as a foundation – the engine that keeps me going. During the most adverse moments of my life, it offered me a way out, delivering a constant source of happiness.
In front of four thousand competitors from around the world, and a roaring audience, the Argentine Taekwondo team translated our dream into reality. We became world champions.
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