Grandmaster Eui Lee is Honored to Coach the U.S. Taekwondo Team
While Taekwondo has only been a part of the Olympic Games since 2000, it’s been a part of Eui Lee for nearly his entire life. Lee began the Korean Martial Art at the age of 4 and has since gone on to become a seventh-degree black belt, 2002 U.S. National Champion and Minnesota Taekwondo State President.
Today, he puts his 30 years of experience to good use as a coach at the World Taekwondo Academy (locations in Maple Grove and Woodbury). But for the next two weeks, his students will have to share him because Grandmaster Lee is headed to London in red, white and blue. The undefeated state champion received a call just a week and a half ago informing him that he was selected to be one of three coaches for the U.S. Taekwondo team at the 2012 London Olympics.
“It means the world to me,” Lee says. “To represent your country as an athlete or a coach is the biggest honor in sports.”
The selection was based on interviews. All candidates had to be staff members on the U.S. National Team, where the highest level of Taekwondo training in the country takes place. Lee has been a part of the national team for seven years, but it will be his first trip to the Olympic, and he’s soaking it all in.
“I just want to enjoy the moment,” Lee says. “It’s just a big honor to be there.”
His students couldn’t agree more.
“They’re all proud of me and happy and excited,” Lee says.
Zachery Budde of Maple Grove is a part of the U.S. Junior National Team and felt the selection was much deserved.
“Grandmaster Eui Lee gives so much to the sport and art of Taekwondo; his appointment is perfect and well deserved,” Budde says. “He now gets a chance to share all his knowledge with Team USA."
Budde will be tuning into the 2012 Olympic games in a variety of ways.
"Until national TV stations televise Taekwondo, I will be forced to watch whatever live stream matches that are available on my computer,” he says. “I also will be tuned into the USA Taekwondo Facebook page as well as USA Taekwondo Twitter accounts."
Lee is no stranger to achievements this year: He was also named 2011 Taekwondo Coach of the Year.
The Grandmaster gives credit to the great people who surround him.
“I think that’s really what helped me accomplish so many things in the sport in the last few years as a coach,” Lee says. “I’ve had great parents here, great athletes, great coaching staff, and I’ve had a great mentor.”
Lee’s mentor is Juan Marino, the head coach of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team who is highly regarded in the Taekwondo community. But it was Lee’s father who really inspired him. He was one of the original masters to come to America to teach Taekwondo and passed on his love for the sport to his son. A love that is sure to encourage Team U.S.A. during its time in London.
“I’ll do whatever I can to make sure that our athletes are getting the best possible chance of winning a gold medal,” Lee says.
With 30 years of training tucked in his seventh-degree black belt, the Team USA Olympians are sure to be in good hands.
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