She kicks people in the face – repeatedly! Look out for 67kg taekwondo player Paige McPherson, a.k.a. McFierce. She's excited and ready for the Olympic experience.
The headstrong little sister of Evan McPherson wanted to do everything her big brother got to do. So when their dad brought Evan to check out taekwondo in their hometown of Sturgis, S.D., Paige was right there too. She immediately flashed talent and coaches took notice, to the point where there was talk of an Olympic future for her by the time she was a teen.
Paige burst on the national stage winning a senior championship at 15. Gold medal performances in national and international competitions continued, and McPherson was named the 2008 prestigious Chris Channing Award of Excellence winner and the 2009 USA Taekwondo Female Athlete of the Year.
In 2009 at 18, she moved from Sturgis to Miami to train with other world-class taekwondo players under coach Juan Moreno, himself a 3-time Olympian with 2 silver medals. The move amped up Paige's Olympic journey. “Everyone there was ‘a somebody' and I got to fight the best girls in the U.S.”
Coming off a silver medal finish at the Pan Am Games in October '11, McPherson won at the U.S. Olympic Trials in March to earn her spot in the Olympics. “All the pressure is off. Now the best part is the journey to train and work with my coaches and continue on to London. I am blessed and humbled and honored to be a part of Team U.S.A.”
Is a visit to the podium in Paige's plans for the summer?
I definitely have the possibility to win gold. All I have to do is train hard, focus, and we'll see what happens.
McFierce: Dancers Feet, Fighters Kicks
Taekwondo emphasizes kicks thrown from a mobile stance, employing the greater reach and power of legs compared with arms. When you watch MacPherson fight you'll see how light she is on her feet and how balanced she remains. “I'm a dancer, so I'm known for my feet and I have a lot of leg control.” True her nickname, McFierce, you'll also notice her speed and tenacity – especially when she attacks the attacker, employing her trademark “Paige Kick.” That's where she kicks her oncoming opponent in the face, then “I keep my leg up there and just keep kicking and kicking and kicking.”
As she prepares to fight, McPherson takes what she calls her walk with God.
I pace down and back, down and back in the holding area – going through things in my head, talking to God, calming myself down so that I'm not too excited or too nervous. I always say ‘BBB'…breathe, believe, and be yourself.
The 21 year old will have her parents, boyfriend, and instructor from South Dakota and his wife in London for the experience. We'll be there in spirit cheering for you too, Paige, hoping you have a long successful day on August 10.
The first few minutes of the YouTube video below from the '11 Pan Am Games will give you a sense of the sport and Paige McPherson's approach. The last couple of minutes of the video feature a flurry of action.
Paige McPherson qualified for the London Games at the U.S. Olympic Trials in March in Colorado Springs. Check out minutes 32-48 from the phone-made YouTube video below to see her fight and win.
You can follow all of Paige's adventures on Twitter.