Songham World Championships

October 12, 2010
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“Luke Senseny!” the center judge yelled. It was time. Nothing could prepare me for what was to come next. There was a roar from the crowd. All of the preparation came down to this one moment. If I landed a perfect form, I could become world champion in the 11-to13-age division for weapons competition. All of my fellow competitors waited anxiously. Being the number one ranked competitor almost all year, I had the honor of doing my form last. This was the most nervous I had ever felt in my entire life. My fate would be decided in the next minute. I had total control. I bowed and went to the center of the ring. The center judge said “seecha” which is Korean for begin. As I slowly started my form, my hands trembled a little. My palms were sweating profusely which made holding on to the weapon very difficult. I had waited a long time for this moment.
That whole morning I had thought about how the day would turn out. Songham World Championships was something I was not unfamiliar with. I had been in the top ten also the year before. However, I did not place high enough to receive a medal. This year was probably my best chance to win ever. By working with my instructor three days a week and competing in some very tough tournaments, I felt this was the best prepared I had ever been. I left with my family to go downstairs to the hotel lobby. With the constant building of nerves that morning, eating was the last thing on my mind. After breakfast it was time to suit up in my pressed, bright white Taekwondo uniform and head to the Little Rock Convention Center where World Championships had been hosted every year. The anticipation could not be measured. It was finally time.
The sun was shining outside. Birds greeted us with their chirping, and the sun shone over the hotel parking lot. It was a typical hot, humid day for Little Rock. A perfect morning. I hoped it could only get better. During the short drive to the convention center from our hotel, the nerves started to build up. I was constantly thinking about how my fate would unfold. We were now in the downtown-parking garage. I made the short walk to convention center entrance where there was a large black banner that read Songham Taekwondo World Championships. Many white uniforms plagued the downtown streets of Little Rock that day. Most of them felt the same way I did. Some of them looked anxious. Others looked excited. It was finally time for them, too.
There was a cool blast of air as we walked into the air-conditioned convention center. It was very hot outside. The cool air made the nerves settle a little. I decided to find a spot to practice before I was to compete in about an hour. We went up escalators to a room on the upper level of the convention center. There was a nice lookout area where you could see the H.U. Lee Eternal Grand Master honorary memorial. The sun shined down on the roof of the memorial gate and gleamed as it hit the top. This was a perfect place to practice. There were hardly any other competitors around. Only me, my family, and a few friends from my Taekwondo school back home were at the convention center. In about an hour it would finally be time to make the short walk down to the main room where the top ten competition was being held.
After a while, I felt confident with what I was doing. The competition felt ever so close now. I was becoming very nervous. Finally, it was time to make my way down the escalators into the main part of the building. It was a short time until I made my way into the main area where the tournament was being held. It was a huge room with about fifty rings going at once. I watched other top ten competitors as I made my way over to my ring. As I got closer I could see some very familiar faces, the faces of those boys I had been competing with over the past year. At that moment I thought to myself one of us will win. I greeted them and waited for the others to arrive.
It was not long until the three judges that would be running the ring that day came to us and told us it was time to start the next round of top ten competition. It was finally time. All of my hard work and dedication came down to this one single moment. The judges bowed us into the ring and told us to slide to the back of the ring so we could get started with our competition. The nerves were extraordinary right now. I couldn’t believe it was finally here. I made my way to the back of the ring. Being careful not to turn my back to the judges for that would be impolite. I sat down beside one of my friends and waited for the other nine competitors to go before me. In an instant, I looked back and saw my parents. They were the ones who had supported me through this long journey. I had hoped that I would make them proud.
In about ten minutes, it was my time to go. The second ranked competitor for that year just finished his form and got his scores. He made his way to the back of the ring, and the center judge called my name. I answered with a loud, “yes sir”, bowed, and made my way to the center of the ring. The center judge said “jun bee”, which means ready stance. I heard the words “seecha”, and I started my form. I started to make fluid and precise movements. The form felt very good. I was about halfway through already and no mistakes. I continued to make very precise and fluid movements. As I turned around to do the second half of the form, I saw a bunch of people in the back of the ring looking at me intently and taking pictures. The second half felt as good as the first. As I did my last movement, I turned and faced the judges. I thought I had nailed it. The center judge said, “burrow”, which means finish stance, and I bowed to him. Yes, I thought.
It was time to hear my scores. The center judge said, “Judges ready, judges score.” I closed my eyes for a moment and opened them to see my scores. I knew right away it was not enough to get the gold. Their fingers protruded from their hands to show my score. I heard a huge roar from the boy’s family that had just got world champion. My head was spinning. It all happened so fast. Years of preparation and done in an instant. I, of course, was disappointed. I was not unhappy with how I had performed, but I was devastated to not have the gold. The next thing I remember was going up to the boy who had won to congratulate him. I also shook hands with the second place winner. It was all over.
Two years later I still think about what happened that day. At first I feel terrible not to have gotten first place, but then I start to think about all of the hard work I had put in and how hard it was just to get into the top ten. Every day that bronze medal becomes more and more special to me. In the end, I was lucky to be there as there were many competitors that didn’t even get the honor of wearing a medal around their neck. I am very proud of what I did, and I don’t feel that I could have done any better. I did the best I could do.





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