Maple Grove Teen Kicks Her Way To The Top of Taekwondo
It’s not unusual to see people waiting with anticipation at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Monday afternoon, a crowd gathered at the international baggage claim to welcome their hometown hero.
Members of the World Taekwondo Academy in Maple Grove held up the American flags and posters, all in honor of Ava Lee. Ava’s grandmother, Sheila Mussette, waited anxiously for her arrival.
“I’m so proud of her,” Mussette said. “She has spent a good part of her life working for these goals.”
After a few more minutes, the wait is over.
“There they are!” shouted Mussette. The crowd jumped up and cheered as Ava walked through the door.
The honor is befitting. Lee is making history. She won the first gold medal for Team USA at the 2019 Taekwondo World Cadet Championships in the 59 kilograms and under division. The championship tournament was held in Uzbekistan.
Lee kicked her way through several tough opponents, including Turkey, Germany and Russia. Her final match was against a top-ranked competitor from Iran. Lee won the match by one point. The colossal victory is still sinking in for Lee.
“It didn’t really come to me at first, it felt like a normal tournament, just normal,” said Lee.
The win is overwhelming for Ava’s coach, who also happens to be her father.
“To have a world champion for the first time ever from Minnesota, who is pretty remarkable and to have it be your daughter is makes it more special,” said Eui Lee, a taekwondo grandmaster
Ava Lee says she’s always dreamed of getting to the top of the medal stand. She encourages others to fight hard in their pursuit of greatness.
“Keep pushing, and just keep thinking there’s someone out there doing the same things, so you have to push harder than them,” said Lee.