Sophie Smithson, 9, of Arlington Heights, earned a gold medal at the 2014 USA Taekwondo National Championships, which were held in San Jose, California. Smithson earned the right to compete in the National Championships earlier this year when she placed in a top spot at the Illinois Taekwondo State Championship.
USA Taekwondo is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the national governing body for the sport of Tae Kwon Do in the United States.
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Smithson is a student of Head Master Shik Lee of the White Tiger Martial Arts Center, in Wheeling, and was among a small group to medal by earning gold in forms for her age group and ranking. Almost 3,800 competitors from across the country gathered at the San Jose Convention Center for this six-day event to compete in various disciplines, including sparring, forms and board breaking.
"This is a major accomplishment and Sophie deserves every bit of it," commented Lee. "I watched week after week for almost a year as she prepared for this competition. Sophie is an amazing young lady and while proud, I am not surprised at her achievement.
For taekwondo athletes Smithson's age, this is the highest level achievable and with a gold medal she has a very athletic future ahead of her."
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