The U.S. National Tae Kwon Do Tournament was held in Dallas,Texas, from June 29 through July 4. And a Mesquite 9-year-old will never forget it.
Connie Escobar trains with Master “O” (Bill O’Connell) at the Mesquite Tae Kwon Do Center, part of the Mesquite Recreation Center’s programs at100 W. Old Mill Road.
She competed in the junior division sparring. After three, one-minute rounds, Connie was tied with the other competitor and went into sudden death for the gold medal round, where the first point scored wins. Connie was unable to score that first point, but walked away with the silver medal.
The annual tournament is sanctioned by USA Tae Kwon Do, the governing body for the U.S. Olympic Team. There were more than 3,500 competitors at the tournament, some competing in more than one event. Events sanctioned were team demonstration, board breaking, forms and sparring. There were sparring matches every day starting with the junior students and ending with adult black belt senior students.
For the youngest, lower-belt students, no head kicks are allowed. For the middle brackets, light-contact head kicks are permitted and for the seniors, full-contact blows and kicks are encouraged. Scoring was done with Daedo sensor chest protectors and three corner judges.
This was Connie’s first national competition. Her additional reward when she returned to Mesquite was to receive a promotion to her next higher belt.
Master “O” refereed at the event for six days. His wife, Sally Henrie O’Connell worked as a volunteer score keeper and computer operator. There were 18 rings that ran continuously for the six days at the Dallas Convention Center.
Mesquite Tae Kwon Do Center is located at the Mesquite Recreation Center and has classes on Tuesday and Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Students spar at the 10 a.m. class. There are no classes in July, but classes are to resume on Tuesday, Aug. 7.