David Gil

Congratulations to Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School eighth grader David Gil, who will compete on the Taekwondo National Team (Team USA), representing the U.S. at the World Taekwondo Poomsae Championship held in Hong Kong, China, this November. David competed at the national team trials in Charlotte, North Carolina in January, winning a spot on the three-person cadet (12–14-year category) male team poomsae (Taekwondo forms) national team with two other cadets from Atlanta and Chicago. David also competed in the individual division and won a national team alternative position as a second-place winner.

“I feel very proud of myself,” shared David. “I trained almost daily for the team trials. I didn't really think I would come this far. I didn't think about making a team or anything like that until 2022. In 2022, I won the Online World Taekwondo Championships Open. I suddenly realized that I had a lot of potential, and I could be the best of the best.”

Taekwondo features two competition categories, poomsae and sparring. Poomsae involves solo performances of choreographed sequences, with athletes evaluated on the precision, balance, and overall presentation. Sparring competitions simulate combat with the goal of scoring points by landing kicks and punches. Competing in both categories at the national or international level is quite rare, but David started participating in both at the age of 8.

Taekwondo is an Olympic sport for sparring and its pinnacle is the Olympic Games; the World Poomsae Championship holds prominence for poomsae. In a significant test for David's age group, the national team trials for both poomsae and sparring took place on the same day at the Charlotte Convention Center in North Carolina, this January. David decided to forego the sparring team trials in favor of the poomsae team trials. Participating in three divisions for poomsae team trials—individual poomsae, pair poomsae, and team poomsae (three people)—he clinched a gold in team poomsae, securing a spot on the National Team. Additionally, he earned silver in individual poomsae, becoming an alternate team member, and claimed bronze in pair poomsae.

David says the study of taekwondo has positively impacted him, teaching him to be disciplined and developing leadership skills. It also helped him develop friendships; an experience that helped him feel more comfortable making friends at school.

“When I was in sixth grade, my P.E. teacher, Mr. [Thomas] Lyon, motivated me and encouraged me to win, and it touched my heart,” said David. “I took his advice and carried it on to the tournament. I wasn't successful as much back then and when he gave me his advice It boosted my self-esteem,” said David. “I am very excited, but it doesn't stop here. Representing an entire country is an honor. I must train harder and harder to perform my absolute best and to bring home the golden gift.”