Nicholas Carlo, a student at R. Roger Rowe School in Rancho Santa Fe, qualified for the Junior Olympics this spring by placing first in the Southern California Taekwondo State Championships. This qualified him to represent California in the Taekwondo Junior Olympics recently held in Dallas, Texas (June 29-July 4).
Nicholas competed in full-contact sparring in the 8-9-year-old red belt heavyweight division, which included 25 of the best Taekwondo competitors from all over the nation. Nicholas fought his way to the podium to earn the Bronze medal, which placed him third in the U.S. Nicholas dominated his first three matches with scores of 10-2, 12-5, 11-4 and was a favorite to win the gold. It was in his fourth and semi-final match where the tide of events turned against him. Nicholas was behind 2-1 when he carried out a well-timed spinning back kick (spinning kicks to the body are awarded 2 points and spinning kicks to the head are awarded 4 points) that landed on his opponent’s chin instead of his chest. The match was stopped and the medical personnel were called to the ring. After it was determined his opponent could continue, Nicholas received a warning and his opponent was awarded an extra point (only black belts are permitted to kick to the head). The score was now 3-1 with 20 seconds remaining in the fight. Nicholas chased his opponent around the ring and caught him in the last two seconds. Both competitors kicked one another at the same time and the final score ended 5-3. Nicholas was awarded third place and his opponent went on to win the Gold.
Nicholas trains under Master Hyon Lee at the Taekwondo Institute in Poway and will be testing for his black belt in August. Master Lee was a former member of the U.S. team and competed at the national and international World Championship level. He currently trains some of the top U.S. Taekwondo competitors.