ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While everyone else is barbecuing and having a cold one or two on the Fourth of July, some Albuquerque kids are working hard chasing their Olympic dreams.
They’re competing right now for a coveted spot on the National Taekwondo Team — a first step on the path to Olympic glory.
No platform shines as brightly as the Olympic stage and these kids, who train at Bates Premier Taekwondo in Albuquerque, have their sights set on the ultimate competition.
They’ll be representing New Mexico this week in the USA Taekowndo National Championship competition in Richmond, Virginia.
For some of them, it’s a part of a quest to make the Olympic team in 2020.
Coach and Owner, Chee Bates, is sending 18 competitors ranging in ages 6 to 17.
“These kids here all have one thing in common. They want to get better and better every day. Some kids say ‘Coach, I want to go to the Olympics. Coach, I want to be on the World Championship team.’ I love that,” said Bates.
Under the watchful eye of Coach Bates, they’ve been putting in hours and hours of work every week, sometimes training twice a day, to reach that goal of having a gold medal placed around their neck.
“It’s a lot of wear and tear on their bodies,” said Bates.
For 14-year-old Mason Porch, the “wear and tear” is worth it. If she medals this week, she’ll become a member of the national team.
“I feel way more prepared and ready and are more aware of the girls that will be in my division. I’ve trained with different coaches and different people,” said Porch.
Porch is also going to Florida to try out for AAU Nationals in an attempt to make it onto that national team as well.
For veteran fighter Page Bates, at 17-years-old, the stakes are even higher. By placing in the top eight of the senior division, Bates would qualify for the World Championship Team Trials.
“It would mean the world. This is everything I’ve been training for. Everything. My life. My goal in life is to make World Championships,” said Bates.
For some, it’s their very first time competing at Nationals, like Bates Premier’s youngest fighter, 6-year-old, Ivy Burdge, who could not wait to fight this week.
The competition in Virginia lasts all week. Each of the students fighting there had to qualify for the 2016 National Championships by placing at tournaments in Las Vegas, Nevada and Oklahoma City