US Olympic Taekwondo Team 2012: Updated News & Analysis for America's Squad
The US Olympic taekwondo team is getting set to head to London in a few months to compete for multiple individual medals.
According to Sarah Stevenson from BBC Sports, countries are only allowed to have a total of four qualifiers for the Olympic tournaments. These tournaments will consist of 16 people for each of the four weight classes and both genders.
That makes a total of eight weight classes with a total of 128 competitors for just 24 medals. The U.S. will have to put out four amazing talents just to medal in the maximum of four weight classes in which they can have representation.
Here is the BBC's link to the Qualification PDF: LINK.
The US Olympic Roster
The 2012 Olympic team includes a pair of siblings and has the four top taekwondo competitors in the U.S.
According to TeamUSA.org, the U.S.taekwondo team consists of Terrence Jennings in the Men's under 68kg division, Steven Lopez in the men's under 80kg division, Diana Lopez in the Women's under 57kg division and Paige McPherson in the women's under 67kg division.
Terrence Jennings: Men's Under 68kg (149.9 Lbs)
Home: Alexandria, Virginia
Notable Highlight: 2011 Pan Am Olympic qualifiers and Pan Am Games bronze medalist
Expectations: After defeating former silver medalist Mark Lopez in the Olympic Qualifiers, Terrence Jennings will be expected to compete for a gold medal in the 2012 games.
Jennings has all the talent and athleticism to be a great martial artist and be the U.S.'s first taekwondo gold medalist since Steven Lopez won it in 2004.
Steven Lopez: Men's Under 80kg (176.3 Lbs)
Home: Sugar Land, Texas
Notable Highlight: 2000 and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist
Expectations: While Stephen is arguably the best martial artist on the U.S. Olympic team right now, he is past his prime. Winning two gold medals is great, but his last one was eight years ago and it is more likely for him to be more in the bronze or later range again.
Diana Lopez: Women's Under 57kg (125.7 Lbs)
Home: Sugar Land, Texas
Notable Highlight: 2008 Olympic bronze medalist
Expectations: Diana has reached her prime at an ideal time. She is going to be competing on a world stage after placing with a bronze in the Pan American games, and could end up matching her brother Steven's accomplishment as a gold medalist in London.
Paige McPherson: Women's Under 67kg (147.7 Lbs)
Home: Sturgis, South Dakota
Notable Highlights: 2011 Pan Am Olympic qualifiers and Pan Am Games silver medalist
Expectations: A relative newcomer to the team and the youngest member at just 21, "McFierce" is arguably the fastest athlete on the team.
Her speed could lead her to the gold medal but since it is her first Olympics, just having a shot to medal should be all we expect out of her.
The United States has four legitimate competitors for medalists in the 2012 Olympics. The absolute best-case scenario would be for McPherson and Jennings to use their athleticism to get gold medals and the Lopez siblings to win bronze medals again.
While there are four legitimate medal contenders on the team, all four could also fall flat on their faces and end up with nothing.
While no one in America wants that, it's a very real possibility for the U.S. to come out of the Olympics without a taekwondo medal.
How the United States Will Finish
In an extremely competitive year for taekwondo, it wouldn't surprise to see the U.S. without a medalist this year.
However, because of the pedigrees of the Lopez siblings and how Terrence Jennings beat Mark Lopez in the qualifiers, it wouldn't shock to see the U.S. with multiple medalists.
Paige McPherson is a dark horse to medal in her own right, and both Lopez siblings should compete for at least a bronze. I'll be conservative and say the U.S. gets one bronze and one silver from their taekwondo team.
Coaches: Jean Lopez and Juan Moreno
How They Qualified for the Olympics: Each nation is only allowed four participants in the entire taekwondo event. The U.S. took the best four from their qualifying trials to compete in the Olympic tournament this year.
2008 Olympic Finish: Steven and Diana Lopez were bronze medalists in 2008, and Mark Lopez, who lost to Terrence Jennings in the Trials, was a silver medalist in 2009.
World Rank: Terrence Jennings is ranked 23rd. Stephen Lopez is ranked 23rd. Diana Lopez is ranked 28th. Paige McPherson is ranked 13th. All rankings are for their Olympic weight class and courtesy TeamUSA.org.
Steven Lopez: LINK.
Diana Lopez: LINK.
Terrence Jennings: LINK.
Paige McPherson: LINK.
Fun-ish Taekwondo-Related Fact: Stephen and Diana Lopez are siblings and are both in their second Olympics together.
All stats courtesy of teamusa.org