El Dorado Hills fifth-grader Sharlene Duong recently won the Gold Medal in Sport Poomsae at the US Taekwondo Open held in Las Vegas, Nev., last month.
The event is essentially an open invitation by the United States to all Taekwondo athletes from around the world to come here and compete. The U.S. Taekwondo Open is conducted by USAT, the governing body for Taekwondo in the United States, and is sanctioned by the World Taekwondo Federation. The competition featured more than 1,900 athletes from 62 countries and the distribution indicated that only about half were from the United States.
The competition was fierce, and the pressure was suffocating, but 10-year-old Sharlene was poised and confident as she performed her technical patterns in front of International Referees. Even as the computer flashed her first-place score to the onlookers, she was calm and even-tempered as she made her exit from the ring and into the arms of her less-than-calm coach.
Winning a gold medal so prestigious that numerous Olympic Team members were drawn there to compete might cause some young athletes to want to take a break from training —not Sharlene. Hours after her return flight landed in Sacramento she was back at the El Dorado Hills Taekwondo Center practicing for the next event. It is that kind of attitude that likely prepared her to win an event of this magnitude.