Ballard family kick and strike their way to success

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Tae Kwan Do is a way of life for the Ballard Family of Albuquerque.

“My wife and I were teaching for 20 years and when the kids came along it became normal for them,” Chris Ballard said.

The Ballard’s run Champion Martial Arts. They are a family of three girls and two boys.

At the moment, the three girls are enjoying success at a high level. Briana, Mariana and Monica just returned from the Tae Kwan Do Nationals in Detroit. The trip yielded a trio of medals for the family.

Twelve-year-old Monica is the youngest sister. She won a silver medal.

“I gapped them which means I beat them by 20 points or more,” said Monica.

It was in the championship round where Monica fell short by four points. A win would have guaranteed her a spot with the USA 12-year-old team at the Pan Am Games in Costa Rica in September. However, there is still an outside shot that Monica will get to go.

The girl she lost to at nationals had a wildcard to go to the Pan Am Games, but since she won her way in as a champion, she no longer needs that wildcard and can give it to Monica.

“I hope she gives it up,” said Monica’s father Chris Ballard. “It gets more U.S. fighters in the games.”

Monica has yet to compete on that level and dreams of the possibility.

“It’s really exciting because I have never competed internationally and I need the experience,” Monica said.

Fourteen-year-old Mariana has won medals at nationals the last five years in a row. She has two silver and three bronze. She settled for a bronze this year and is not in the running for International competition. That could change as Mariana drops to a different weight class.

“That’s going to help a lot because the girls will be my size and I will be use to the pressure against bigger girls,” Mariana said.

There is a chance 15-year-old Briana could join sister Monica on the International level this year. She, too, won a silver medal at nationals and was named to the USA B-team. Should her opponent who defeated her at nationals decide not to go to World Championship, Briana would be in. Briana, who was one of the low seeds at nationals, has her sights set on bigger things in the future.

“The Olympics in 2024, I want to go to the Olympics,” Briana said.