Paige McPherson Interview

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How old did you start training taekwondo?

I started TaeKwonDo officially when I turned seven years old. My older brother had previously joined two years prior at a local TaeKwonDo club in the basement of the town’s middle school. My heart was set back then to be like Evan, my older brother, and so it took a lot of patience and growing up to do (as I was a ball of uncontrollable energy) until the instructor finally allowed me to join the class.

What inspired you to do taekwondo compared to other martial arts?

TaeKwonDo class became a special time when the family came together. My younger sister and nephew soon joined right after myself and later my other older brother, cousins, etc all tried a class out too. This domino effect soon made our entire McPherson clan closer than ever.

How have martial arts helped you mentally and physically?

My instructor first drilled in me the five tenants of TaeKwonDo: self-control, indomitable spirit, respect, perseverance, and integrity. Later, from the ups and downs of the journey to an Olympic berth it taught me that the true victory/outcome of this game is learning how to know and improve yourself as an athlete, but most of all, as an individual. Choosing to be confident in yourself, your team, and your faith all have its effect on the outcome desired.

What are the most memorable moments you have had at tournaments?

The most memorable moment at any competition is the action of achieving a goal that you have been training vigorously for. It could mean winning the competition to throwing a specific combo or kick in which you have been working. Also, memories cherished are the bonds you create with your teammates and other competitors while off the mat. There you can appreciate one another by showing support or simply understanding and acknowledging that you know can relate to what they are going through.

What is it like representing Team USA?

It is simply an honor in being a part of such an exceptional group of athletes, who utterly want to be the best! Period! Point blank! It becomes bigger than oneself which always creates an unexplainable bond and a fire in each of our hearts while amongst one another where we recognize the same USA letters walking into the Opening Ceremony or on the podium while the flag is being raised.

What is your nutrition for training?

I mostly just try to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I am fortunate to not have to lose weight.

What are your goals as an athlete?

My goal is to be the best that I can be as God has given me this talent and path to take. I want to grow as an athlete and a person. Most importantly put my best foot forward when obstacles are at hand. When I give the Lord all my strength, I know that with him as my center I am capable of being the absolute best.

What are your goals for your career?

I want to be an Olympic Champion!

Where would you like to travel to next?

I am honestly excited to go back to Tokyo. I didn’t have the chance to explore the first time therefore, it was only meant to make the Olympic Team and go back.

What was your schedule like training for the Olympics?

I generally train 5/6 days a week. Each day is roughly 4-5 hours of training. We break those hours up into two sessions: a strength and conditioning session and later in the evening a TaeKwonDo session.

What was it like traveling and meeting people from around the world at the Olympics?

It was very special and a huge personal accomplishment to be amongst some of the world’s greatest athletes. I had the privilege to meet NBA players, Olympic Champions such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Simon Biles, Kobe, and more. What was refreshing and eye-opening was that they are all still human. Most of them were very welcoming and just as anxious/nervous as I was. Therefore, they are no better as we were there as equals to make our dreams become reality.

Any advice you would like to give to other athletes?

My advice is to bloom. A quote that I have kept since the beginning of my career says, “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” Therefore, stop comparing, stop envying, stop putting yourself in a mindset of what society claims as to the norm, or what others are doing. Your story is yours for the taking however it may unravel. Instead, it is your choice to show how you want to be remembered and what you want to achieve. In your own time, your way, will then your goals become reality. Once you stop looking outwardly but inwardly will you then bloom into a better version of yourself.'

Justine is a National USA Wushu Taolu Judge and was on the 2017 U.S.A. Traditional Wushu Team. Justine works full time as a Systems Analyst. With her extra time, Justine currently travels to domestic and international wushu tournaments.