One of the most talented athletes set to represent the United States of American at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, martial arts expert Paige McPherson is a serious contender for gold in the taekwondo 67kg (147 pounds) division.
The 21-year-old McPherson battled her way to first place at the Olympic Trials Finals (OTF) by defeating former Olympian Nia Abdallah 5-4. In 2011, the Sturgis, South Dakota resident took the silver medal at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier, giving her passage to the Olympic qualifier.
This will be McPherson’s first Olympic appearance, which, given her young age, could be the first of several appearances if she’s successful and chooses to stick with it into the foreseeable future.
The 5’8″ athlete, originally from Abilene, Texas is currently ranked ninth in the world as a welterweight, which means she’s got her work cut out for her in London. Of course that’s the whole point of becoming an Olympian, and no athlete has ever won gold without competing at their personal-best level at every event.
On a personal note, the McPherson family is known around Sturgis as the Rainbow Family and for very good reason. Paige and her siblings are all adopted and each from a different heritage. Paige is half Filipino and half African-American, and her siblings are of Native American decent as well as Korean.
A dancer most of her youth, McPherson had to decide at age 18, in 2009, between dance and taekwondo. The sole focus has definitely improved her martial arts prowess. Since the decision to drop dance, she has taken gold or silver in several major competitions, including the Under 24 Nationals, the Spanish Open, the Pan Am Games, and several Olympic and national team qualifiers.
The star athlete, who works for Abercrombie & Fitch when she’s not training for the Olympics or competing, frequently talks about her “BBB” motto.
“It’s a motto my longtime coach, Master Cody Shepperson, taught me,” Johnson said in an NBC Universal interview. “He was always like, “breathe, believe, and be you. Relax and embrace the moment, always believe in yourself, and then just trust in god and trust what happens. Remember who you are and where you’re from. Remember your morals.”
It’s easy to cheer for any U.S. athlete competing in any Olympic event, but it’s even sweeter when you see them as regular, hardworking Americans who hold down regular jobs, make personal sacrifices, and train harder than anyone else. Cheering for Paige McPherson to bring home the gold will be the easiest thing you do all summer!