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Two Engineering Students Win Gold, Silver Medals at 2011 USA Taekwondo National Championships
Thursday, Jul. 14, 2011
Santa Clara University’s School of Engineering can boast having the top two U.S. champions in taekwondo. Students TJ Leising and Tyler Sawyer won gold and silver medals at the 2011 Taekwondo National Championships in San Jose, Calif., on July 3.
“I couldn't stop smiling the rest of the day,” said Leising. “It is a great feeling, and what made it amazing was that since the competition was in San Jose, many of my friends, teammates, and family were able to come out and cheer me on.”
24-year-old Leising won gold in the men’s heavyweight division, and 20-year-old Sawyer won silver in the men’s fly weight division.
Leising, who is a fourth degree black belt, began taekwondo in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., when he was ten years old and entered his first tournament just five months later.
“Competing is a good external test of skill and dedication,” says Leising. “You’re forced to constantly improve your game and challenge yourself to reach higher levels of the sport.”
Leising is finishing up his master’s degree in mechanical engineering and is expected to graduate in the summer of 2012.
Sawyer has been practicing taekwondo since he was three years old and competing since he was 13. The Anchorage, Alaska native is a rising junior studying electrical engineering and a fourth degree black belt. His ultimate goal is to make the U.S. team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Knowing that I have the ability to compete with the best in the world is a reward in itself and only pushes me to try harder in and out of practice,” said Sawyer.
Sawyer isn’t finished competing, though. He’s training six to seven days a week for the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China in August.