Young Milpitas resident Caitlin Nguyen, age 14, has been racking up noteworthy achievements in martial arts this fall…
First, at the 2019 Canada Open Taekwondo Championship in Montreal, held between October 4 and 6, she won a gold medal for Olympic Sparring. Over 1,000 competitors from over 50 countries participated. Nguyen found herself competing among 13 such competitors, in the -44kg female cadet division.
In the first round, her opponent was from Mexico; Nguyen won 9 to 2. In the quarter finals, she was victorious over a Canadian opponent, scoring 14 to 4. In the semi-finals, the opponent was from Chile; Nguyen took it 28 to 16. Come the finals, it was Canada again across the mat…and Nguyen won 20 to 0 (per the sport’s point gap scoring system).
Nguyen sparred on the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Taekwondo National Team, a distinction which itself required her to prove herself repeatedly in competitive match-ups.
Nguyen’s coach was Grandmaster Thac Nguyen, an AAU Taekwondo National Elite Coach who’s the owner of Milpitas’ Blue Dragon Taekwondo Academy and the Sports Director of the AAU Taekwondo Region 13 (California and Nevada) and Pacific District (Northern California).
Thac is also Caitlin’s father. Back when Caitlin was little, “He [my dad] started showing [Taekwondo] to me, and then after awhile I just kept going…”
Caitlin added, “I just really like the sport. All the training, all the hard work pays off when you’re competing…When you win or lose, you learn a lot after the competitions.”
Later in October (25-27), Nguyen went on to win gold at Orlando, Florida’s International Martial Arts Festival at the Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which over 1,200 athletes attended.
There, Nguyen also took part in the AAU Taekwondo Sport Poomsae team trials, where she took 2nd place in Cadet Pairs and 3rd place in Cadet Team. Her Pairs victory means she and her male partner will be back in Florida next February on the AAU National Team, competing in the U.S. Open Taekwondo Championship.
“Sometimes,” Caitlin explained, “I practice with my brothers,” who are 16 and 18 years of age, which has given her needed experience squaring off against older competitors.
“I feel very excited,” Caitlin said, speaking of another competition slated for early next year in Las Vegas. “Next year, I’ll be fighting against 15-to-17-year-olds. They’ll be a lot older. I’ll be a little bit younger.”
Young or not, this Taekwondo star is on the rise.