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Latino Daily News

Saturday July 7, 2012

Olympics: U.S. Taekwondo Champ Steven Lopez Aims for Third Gold Medal

Olympics: U.S. Taekwondo Champ Steven Lopez Aims for Third Gold Medal

Photo: Steven Lopez winning the gold at the Athens olympics

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

U.S. taekwondo champion Steven Lopez said Friday in New York that he will put his whole heart into winning another medal for the United States in the London Olympic Games.

“I have a lot of faith in God, I believe in myself and I have the support of my family, I believe that I’ve done everything right to win and I’m going to fight with all my heart,” the 33-year-old athlete of Nicaraguan origin told Efe.

Lopez, who spoke Friday to a group of children about the importance of healthy eating and of the sport to which he has dedicated 27 years, said that his parents Julio and Ondina are his source of inspiration.

He recalled that they emigrated from Nicaragua in 1972 “with nothing, without knowing the language and in search of opportunities.”

He said his parents always advised him “to be the best person I could be.”

“They’re my motivation to become the best representative of this country that has given so much to me and my family,” the athlete said.

Lopez, who was born in New York but grew up and lives in Texas with his brother Jean, trainer of the U.S. taekwondo team, said that he likes to spend time with children “and do something to motivate them.”

The athlete, winner of Olympic gold in 2000 - when taekwondo was accepted as an Olympic sport for the first time - and at the 2004 games in Athens, told the youngsters that from the time he was a kid he wanted to compete in these games and that his dad taught him that to achieve his wish, he had to begin with discipline.

The 2012 U.S. taekwondo team is made up of two men and two women, one of them his sister Diana, winner of a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, who in a week’s time will leave for Croatia to continue her training.

The Lopez family also includes Mark, who has also won medals for the United States in this sport but this time will not accompany his siblings to London.

Steve, Diana and Mark made history in 2005 when they were the first siblings in any sport to win world titles at the same time, in the World Taekwondo Championship in Madrid.

In 2008, they competed in the Beijing Olympics.

“That was a dream for me and I thank God and my parents for their sacrifice. I’m proud to have done it,” Lopez said, adding that he is ready and “eager” to take on this new challenge, which he is getting ready for with a training program “very intense, two or three times a day, to be better.”

“It’s great to reach this point and give thanks to God for the chance” to be in a fourth Olympic Games, Lopez said, adding that right now he doesn’t know if there will be a fifth.

“I feel well, physically and mentally, and I think that’s what is most important. I don’t know if I’ll get to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Right now I’m concentrating on London. I don’t know if I’ll continue as an athlete or a trainer,” he said.