Shelby Olson had one shot, one day, to make her dream come true. If she could somehow find a way to beat the odds, if she could beat her nemesis and overcome the high altitude of Colorado Springs, Colo., Olson would make the U.S. Junior Olympic Taekwondo team.
After a solid month of training, Olson made the most of her shot, winning a three-way round-robin match on Aug. 22 at the U.S. Olympic Training site to earn a spot on the Junior Olympic team.
"I am so excited,'' said Olson, a senior at East Lake High School. "I'm so excited you can hardly believe it.''
Olson's adventure began at the junior tae kwon do national championships in Austin, Texas, in July. She won a silver medal, and as one of the top three finishers she was given a chance to go to Colorado Springs for a shot at making the Junior Olympic team.
When she got there, she had to get past Katherine Trinh, who had beaten her at the national championships, as well as third-place finisher Elena Scanagatta. In the first match of the round robin, Olson lost again to Trinh.
"I was so nervous,'' Olson said. "I just wasn't in it yet. There was so much going on in my head.''
In the next match against Trinh, Olson won 7-2. Armed with confidence, she won the next two matches against Trinh and earned the final spot on the team. She was 3-1 overall in the fight-offs.
"I've had this goal ever since I started tae kwon do and earned my black belt,'' said Olson, who trains at U.S. Best Taekwondo Center in Largo. "I trained so hard and did a lot of work to get ready for the high altitude. It's a great feeling right now.''
Olson, 17, will continue to train until she joins the junior national team for the Pan American Games on Nov. 17 in El Salvador. She said being at the Olympic Training Center inspired her to work even harder.
"Just being on the same ground as some of the best athletes in the country was awesome,'' Olson said. "It was an amazing place.''
Holes-in-one:Mallikarjuna Swamy aced the par-3, 203-yard 13th hole at Bardmoor Golf Club in Largo on Sept. 7. He used a 3-wood.
- The West Coast Women's Golf Association held a tournament at Avila Golf and Country Club on Aug. 31. The Flight AA gross winner was Sisi Hedges of Eaglebrooke, who shot 72. Debbie Mook Sang was the AA net winner with 72. The A flight winner was Yolanda Dwyer of Lakewood Ranch, who shot 82. Lyla Kinsel of Feather Sound and Judy Preston of St. Petersburg tied the B Flight with 84s.
The East Lake Fall Jr. Rookie Tournament was held on Sept.5-6 at East Lake Woodlands. The boys 16 singles winner was Zachary Gardner, the 14 winner was Jacob Friefeld, the 12 winner was Hunter Hall and the 10 winner was Philip Chiritescu. In the girls 18 singles division, Hillary Blackburn was the champion, the 14 winner was Jordan Botsch, the 12 winner was Shannon Wagner and the 10 winner was Natalia Vuckovic.
- Evan Holvoet of St. Petersburg won the boys 14 singles at the Saddlebrook Local Championships in Wesley Chapel. Holvoet defeated top seed Connor Jones 6-0, 6-1 in the final match. Top seed Anastasha Worlds of St. Petersburg won the girls 12 singles with a 3-6, 6-3, 10-5 win over Senka Radovic.
- Alex Cercone of Seminole competed in the U.S. Open Junior singles draw at Flushing Meadows in New York. She lost her first-round match to Croatia's Aila Tomlianovic 6-1, 6-3. Cercone has played in all four grand slam events this season.
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