Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jean's Olympic recap

Since returning from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, I have reflected on my experience and thank God for blessing me with this amazing opportunity. Words can’t really describe the thrill I felt, but I will try to summarize my experience here.

The 2008 Olympic Team began the final leg of their Olympic journey by going through team processing in San Jose, Calif., the end of July. We got a special surprise while we were there as that was the day that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped by. Steven got to present the Terminator with a USOC jacket and then he took photos with all of us. That was a great way to start our trip.

After team processing we boarded a plane for Singapore for our final Olympic training camp before heading to Beijing. It was a great place and we had a very successful training camp. A special thanks to all the training partners who dedicated themselves 100-percent to making our Olympians the best that they could be.

From Singapore we flew straight to Beijing on Aug. 7 and we were welcomed by several television cameras and other media reporters and to our surprise, my parents. This was the first Olympics that my mother has attended, so it was great to see both her and my father at the airport when we arrived. The following day we had our team press conference, which was a thrill for all of us. Our press conference immediately followed the men’s basketball team and so we got a chance to interact with them a bit. The great thing at the Olympics is seeing the mutual respect that athletes and coaches have for each other, which made our interaction with the basketball team a special experience.

Following our press conference it was time to get ready for the Opening Ceremony. This was a day that my brothers and sister and I had dreamt about for so long and it was hard to believe it was all coming true. While waiting to march into the Opening Ceremony we interacted with the other athletes from the United States as well as the other countries. We had our picture taken with President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush and their daughter Barbara. We then lined up for the march and we were towards the back with our buddies from the men’s basketball team. Seeing the look on Steven, Mark, Diana and Charlotte’s faces was priceless and it made me proud to see one of their dreams come true. The Opening Ceremony was amazing and really got us all excited for the competition.

While in Beijing, we did all of our training at Beijing Normal University (BNU), the high performance center that the USOC had set-up for the Olympic team. It was a great place to get away and stay focused on our goal of bringing home medals. We trained for two hours in the morning and afternoon and took advantage of all the services the USOC provided at BNU. As we got closer to competition day, we tapered the workouts as necessary.

Charlotte got things started for our team on Aug. 20. She came out, looked strong and won her first match. A format change from the past two Olympics was the fact that after an athlete won their first match there was anywhere from a two to four hour break before the next session began. Charlotte was one of the first women's matches so she had about four hours in between her first two matches. The adrenaline that you have going into your first Olympic match is higher than any other competition, and consequently you have the physical let down once that adrenaline leaves your body. It is a mental test to get your body back up to that level after a break such as this, which we had to face each of the three days our athletes competed. Charlotte lost her second match but learned a lot from the experience and will be a stronger athlete the next time around. Following her second round loss, we held out hope that the girl that beat her would continue to the gold medal match, which would have put Charlotte in the bronze medal bracket. However, the girl lost her next match so our first day of Taekwondo competition came to a close sooner than we had expected.

The following day, Aug. 21, was a big day for us with Diana and Mark competing in their first Olympic competition. Diana and Mark controlled their first fights and looked strong easily moving on to the second round. Mark sustained a broken hand in the first exchange of his first match after he blocked a kick from his opponent. They returned for the afternoon session, where Diana experienced the same scenario that Charlotte did the day before. However, this time Diana’s opponent advanced to the gold medal match putting Diana in the bronze medal bracket.

Mark took care of business winning his second round match to advance to the semifinals where he faced Peter Lopez, who was competing for Peru. After a tough match against Peter, Mark emerged victorious to face his Korean opponent for the gold medal.

In the meantime, Diana won both her next two matches to claim the bronze medal, marking the first medal for the USA Taekwondo team. With one in the books, attention turned to Mark with the gold medal on the line. It was a battle back and forth until the judges scored the Korean on a simultaneous exchange with one second left in regulation putting him ahead 3-2. Mark fought great and there appeared to be points he should have scored that didn’t register. I couldn’t be more proud of the way he competed. Mark collected the silver medal for our country and the second medal for the 2008 Taekwondo team.

The next day all eyes were on Steven, who in his first match faced the silver medalist from the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Nothing like starting out with a bang. Steven came out and faced his opponent like it was the gold medal match. As in Athens, Steven emerged victorious to face Italy in the second round. In his match with Italy, which was very controversially scored, Steven received a very suspect penalty call costing him a point prior to the end of regulation. As a result, the match went into sudden death, where they scored Italy a point costing Steven the match. A protest was filed with tournament officials, who dismissed the protest and we currently have a case filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport over this matter. We are adamant that our athletes have a fair playing field and we will use this case to ensure that for future USA Taekwondo athletes. While we did not agree with the judge’s decision, when Italy advanced to the gold medal match, Steven refocused and returned to the mat to compete in the bronze medal bracket. Steven showed he is a true champion by coming back and winning his next two matches to capture the bronze medal adding to his legend which brought the USA Taekwondo medal count to three. This marked the most medals ever won by a USA Taekwondo team at the Olympic Games.

So in closing, I would like to congratulate Charlotte, Diana, Mark and Steven for representing themselves, USA Taekwondo and their country with the utmost level of professionalism. What a class group of athletes. A special thanks to Coach Juan Moreno for his invaluable knowledge and assistance in making this the best team ever, and to Herb Perez for his tenacity and professionalism in keeping the athletes as the top priority. In addition, I would like to thank USA Taekwondo, Coach Kevin Padilla, all the training partners, and the rest of our support crew. All of you helped make the 2008 Olympics a very historic and memorable event. London 2012 here we come!

Jean Lopez
2008 Olympic Coach
2004 Olympic Coach

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Game time in Beijing

Well the moment we have all been waiting for is almost here. The next three days will be big for us. Charlotte Craig will get things rolling for the U.S. Taekwondo team on Wednesday and then Marky and Diana go on Thursday.

Those who know me and for others you have probably read, it is a known fact that I get way more nervous watching my brother and sister compete than when I step on the mat. Watching them I feel so helpless, so it will be interesting to see how I handle it all on Thursday. I guess you could say I am a lot like my mom in that regard as she has a hard time watching as well. However, I am excited to see Mark and Diana go out there and give it there all.

As for my draw, my first opponent will be the silver medalist from the 2004 Games in Athens. Nothing like starting out with a bang.

Everyone is looking good and we have trained our whole lives for this moment. We are ready to go out there and represent ourselves, our family, our friends, our sponsors and our country. We promise to make you all proud.


Monday, August 18, 2008

It's almost showtime...

Well, it's coming down to the wire ladies and gentleman - three more days until I fight and two more days until I weigh in. Weigh-ins for me, as of now, is really the only thing I’m focused on. I have about 6 more pounds to go. The day I weigh in, I plan to be no more than 3 or 4 pounds over. Beware, you don't want to be around me these last couple of days before I weigh in, I may be a little grumpy.

I will be spending most of my time at BNU (Beijing Normal University). It's the location the US Olympic Committee chose to set up shop. It's where I have been training and eating every day. They have an amazing set up there. You can set up appointments for massages, chiropractor treatments, and they have a full medical staff. There is also a beautiful gym set up by 24 hour Fitness with actual staff from 24 hour fitness. The food is excellent, especially for me since I’m watching my weight. They have healthy but tasty food with all the nutritional information for each item. The US has brought chefs from the States to feed us. So, we are very fortunate and it's another reason why I am proud to be from the USA!

Anyway, it's the ideal place for me to do my weight cutting. Like the Hilton Hotels for me when I visit my parents here at the Hilton Beijing, my home away from home, BNU is like our Olympic Training Center transplanted to Beijing.

As of right now, I feel good and I'm in a great place spiritually and mentally. I'm happy, positive, and confident. My legs are fresh and I am happy with my draw. I have Afghanistan first fight and won't face my most formidable opponents (Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Cuba) until I reach the finals. It's time to have fun. All the hard work and sacrifice is going to finally pay off. The tough part is over and now it's time to rock and roll. I'm ready to put it all on the line, leave nothing for chance, and give it everything I have. This is my family's legacy, my stamp on history, my honor that I will be fighting for.. It's my time to shine!

Mark Anthony Lopez
'08 US Olympic Team

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sporting events

We are having a great time as a family at the 2008 Olympic Games. It is so great having our parents here and we have been able to spend a little time with them. Besides training we have been able to take in some events in the evening.

On Thursday night I went to swimming and finally got to see the inside of the water cube. What an amazing and unique building it is. It is so cool at night when they light it all up. After swimming the Hilton Family of Hotels had gotten us four tickets to the Men’s Basketball game so we went and watch the “Redeem Team” take on Greece. It wasn’t a very close game but it was fun to see the guys play. After that we headed to the USA House where we met up with all of our training partners and had a fun evening.

On Friday, Jean gave us the day off. I joined my friends from Coca-Cola (Dina Gerson) for a morning of women’s gymnastics. Shawn Johnson (one of the Coca-Cola six pack athletes) was competing in the all-around competition and I really wanted to see her compete. I had a great time and it was a close event all the way to the end. In the end, Nastia Liukin of the United States won Gold and Shawn got second. She did a great job and I was honored to watch her compete.

We then spent the afternoon with our parents before heading to the Coca-Cola experience in the Olympic Green. Coca-Cola was honoring my family and me with their “I Live Positively Award.” It was nice to experience all that as a family.

After we wrapped up there Jean, Mark, dad and I went to watch the women’s volleyball team take on China, while mom and Diana went to see some track and field. On Saturday we will go to the Great Wall of China and one of us will share that experience with you. We are one week away from when I will compete and I am ready for the day to come. We are all focused and ready to bring back Gold to the U.S.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, August 15, 2008

One week out

Hello all. I am one week away from competing. How exciting. It's been a fun journey so far. We have begun tapering off in our practices so that we are fresh and ready for competition day. We have been having morning workouts from 9 to 11 at Beijing Normal. After practice, we grab a bite to eat, take a nap, or play rock band in the athlete lounge! I'm the singer. Chris Martinez, my training partner, is usually the drummer, Charlotte (Craig) is a guitar player and so is Jean. Our second practice is usually from 3 to 5 p.m. After dinner, we usually head back to the village and sleep! The village is awesome. So many different people with the same goals from all around the world! It is fun to be a part of it all.

During our Thursday morning workout we were joined by Tiki Barber and Julie Foudy doing stories for NBC and they were both featuring my brothers and I. Tiki was working on a follow-up to his Today Show piece that he filmed with us in Houston a couple months back. This piece will run on NBC Nightly News, so look for it around the 20th. Then Julie Foudy, who was on the soccer national team and Olympic team, came out to talk to us about our love of soccer and more about our family story. We kicked the ball around with her and it was a lot of fun. Both of them are really down to earth people and we connected well with them. That piece will be part of NBC’s Olympic Zone, which airs prior to NBC primetime and will probably come out around the 20th.

Thursday night we got four tickets from the Hilton Family of Hotels for the men’s basketball game. It was USA basketball vs Greece!! We had a great time even though the game wasn’t all that close. So thanks Hilton for hooking us up with that since we have become good friends with the basketball guys.

My friend Maria got in on Thursday night, so I plan to spend some time with her and my parents on Friday. We have a trip planned to the Great Wall on Saturday, so if I am feeling up to it I will probably go. I will keep you posted.

Until next time,

Monday, August 11, 2008

My third opening ceremonies

What an amazing experience Opening Ceremonies were for me this time around. This was my third time to march in Opening Ceremonies, but this one by far was the best. Not only did China put on a great show but I got to walk into Opening Ceremonies with my brothers and sister. It was truly a dream come true and I just tried to soak it all in. We marched in right in front of the men’s basketball team, so that was pretty cool. Those guys are a lot of fun.

Practice has been going well and we have been busy doing various sponsor events. Hilton hosted my parents, Mark, Diana and I at a dinner on Saturday night. It was nice to spend some time with my parents as that was the first time we really got to be with them. Then on Monday, we spent another four hours with them doing media interviews for Hilton talking about the great hospitality they are showing to my parents. It is nice to know that they are being well taken care of and we truly feel like we are at home having our parents here.

We have a few more sponsor events scheduled through Saturday. We are also trying to get a trip to the Great Wall arranged for Saturday morning, so if we do one of us will be sure to share our stories of the trip and photos.

Well, I better sign off and get some sleep so I will be ready for practice in the morning. Hope all is well back in the States.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Opening ceremonies

Well, ladies and gentleman, one of my dreams have come true...walking into the Bird's Nest for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games with my brothers and my little sister!!! Wow, what an experience.

The day started with us getting on a bus and heading into the fencing stadium. This is where the entire US delegation was hanging out before we left for the Opening Ceremonies. It was here where we had the great pleasure and honor of meeting President George W. Bush!! He gave us a great speech, primarily motivating us to bring home the gold and representing the greatest country in the world. After the speech he took the time to take a picture with all the teams. When he took a picture with us he recognized us and told us how proud he was of us. And of course he was happy to know that we were from Texas :)

Then surprisingly, Laura Bush asked to personally meet us! She mentioned that her husband read about us in USA Today and thought it would be great to have us at the White House. She said she invited us but wondered why we didn't go. We felt a little embarrassed that we had to decline the visit, but Jean explained to her that we had an important competition around that time. She understood and stated that we must come after the Games to visit.

We then got in the bus again to head to another waiting area, the stadium where Gymnastics was being held. Unfortunately, we were there for most of the Opening Ceremonies and missed the great shows and fireworks. USA was number 139 out of the 204 countries to march in. After a while we were finally called. I started to get excited. I was taking pictures, shooting video and soaking up the positive energy that was being emitted by everyone. We were lucky enough to be walking next to the "Redeem Team" so we were mingling with LeBron James, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Daron Williams. We finally arrived to the tunnel. Chanting of "U.S.A., U.S.A.!" began.

I started to hear the rumbling of the massive crowd that awaited us. Chills started to come over my body and a plethora of overwhelming feelings ran through me...strength, unity, pride, courage, validation, happiness. I have arrived!! We have arrived!! I was at the end of the group so I was still in the dark tunnel and could see the light hit the white berets of the gladiators of the USA emerge into this amazing modern day coliseum. As we entered the stadium I was in awe. My eyes wide open trying to take in as much as possible...the lights, the electrifying crowd. A smile covered my face from ear to ear while my ears listened to the thousands of people from around the world cheering and shouting with joy. I have arrived!!

As I walked into the stadium I began to wave to the crowd, blowing kisses and acknowledging the American flags whenever I spotted them. It was great :) We finally stopped and stood in our designated area. The lighting of the torch began. Chinese Olympians of past and present brought the torch in one by one. Then the final torch bearer began to float into the air, ran magically around the stadium and arrived at the cauldron. I was anxiously waiting...and then in happened. The Olympic Torch was lit and the Olympics had officially begun. I stood there looking at the flame, amid thousands of people. However, I felt as if the flame was lit solely for me, I felt as if I was in my own world, just me in that magnificent stadium adoring the flame that represents strength, honor, humanity, greatness and glory. It was just beautiful.

The Games have begun and it is now time for my family and I to do what we came here to do. To display our greatness that has culminated after decades of diligence, blood, sweat, and tears. It is this sacrifice that will yield sweet success.

We have arrived!! Thank you God for this opportunity!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Officially in Beijing

We officially made it to Beijing and got checked into our rooms at the athlete village. It feels good to finally be here. Our training camp in Singapore went really well but now the real excitement begins.

When we arrived at the airport we were met by the official film crew that is working on a documentary on the Games. They came to Houston back in April and now plan to get us a few times while in Beijing. They got us when we got off the plane and then getting our bags.

Once we got our bags we came out in the main lobby where more media were waiting. We also got a surprise visit from our parents. We knew they were in Beijing but didn’t expect them to be at the airport. It was great to see them if only for a few minutes and the media loved it. There were camera crews and photographers all around. They then loaded us up in a bus to the athlete village, while our training partners went to Beijing Normal University where they will be staying. Our rooms in the village are nice.

On Friday, we will have our official team press conference at the main press center and then we will have to get back to the village and get ready for Opening Ceremonies. I can’t wait until we walk into Opening Ceremonies at the Birds Nest together as a family. I am sure it is going to be an overwhelming feeling even though we have dreamed about doing this for so long.

Like I said earlier, my parents made it to town on Wednesday and are enjoying their time at the Beijing Hilton. I can’t thank Hilton Family of Hotels enough for making their trip possible. It will be nice to have them here supporting us and being part of this historic event.

Be sure to watch Opening Ceremonies and cheer on Team USA!!!

Until next time,

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hello from Singapore

Hello from Singapore! Let me just give you all a re-cap as to what has happened since I left my home in Sugar Land! Let me just tell you all that Team Processing in San Jose was an experience I will never forget. I know as a young kid, everyone wanted to be on the show "Super Market Sweep"..(well, at least I did). That's exactly how I felt, except I wasn't getting all the honey glazed ham from the frozen food section (you know everyone got those first..or diapers).

No instead, I was shopping for my Ralph Lauren Opening Ceremonies outfit. We each got a shopping cart, and went from station to station getting Nike apparel (socks, shoes, hats, shirts, pants, shorts....the list goes on, and on and on) and Ralph Lauren polos. I want to let everyone know that the US Olympic Team will be looking distinguished walking into the Opening Ceremonies on 8-8-08!! Ralph Lauren had his top designers tailor our outfits because they wanted to make sure we looked sharp. Be sure to watch us on NBC. We're in Singapore right now training hard and getting ready to leave Aug. 7 to Beijing. Well, I have to get ready for training now, so I better sign off.

Take care and God bless.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Team processing

July 26, 2008
Hello everyone. The time has finally come for us to depart for the Olympics. On Friday (July 25) we left Houston on a 7 a.m. flight bound for San Francisco, Calif. Once we landed, we were shuttled to San Jose State University where we would soon go through team processing.

For those that are not familiar with what team processing is, it is our last stop before departing for the Olympics. The main thing that happens during team processing is that we get outfitted for the Games. They gave us a shopping cart and we were off to fill it up with all kinds of goodies. Once we had stopped at each station we proceeded to the check-out table. The best thing about all of this is that we didn’t have to pay a dime at the check-out stand. Thanks to the USOC, we received a ton of cool clothes and shoes at no cost.

It was an amazing experience but then it got even better when we got a special visit from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (a.k.a. the Terminator). It was so cool having him stop by and say a few words of inspiration to all of us that were going through team processing. My brother, Steven, along with Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Hayworth were asked by the USOC to present Gov. Schwarzenegger with an official team jacket. After doing that he met all the athletes and I got a picture with him. It was an awesome day and our journey has just begun.

Today, we are headed back to the airport to catch a flight to Singapore, where we will train until we depart for Beijing on Aug. 7. We leave San Francisco at around 1 p.m. to Hong Kong and then on to Singapore. We won’t arrive in Singapore until 11:35 p.m. on Sunday, July 27. It will be a long trip and I am hoping for some good movies on the plane. Hopefully, I will be able to get a little sleep as well.

Amazing Awaits!!

Mark Anthony Lopez
2008 U.S. Olympic Team

Thursday, July 24, 2008

1 more day till I leave Houston

I am so excited right now. One more day till we leave for San Jose (Calif.) for team processing. I took a break from packing..uggh.. it's a pain sometimes, especially since I will be gone for a month. I always seem to over pack! I have tons of shoes, but I only packed hmm...let me see.. about 10 . Guys have it so easy sometimes.

Saturday we leave for Singapore for our Olympic training camp. I saw the hotel we are staying at and it is amazing. My coach, a.k.a Jean, put us through a really hard workout yesterday morning. I think I may need to get a massage. Today we have the day off. I will workout on my own and then finish packing and hang out with my parents.

I will write from San Jose if I get a chance.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Never stop believing...

July 22, 2008

I thought I would take a minute to add to the family blog. My name is Jean and I am the oldest brother and the U.S. Olympic Taekwondo Team coach. It is hard to believe that our dream, which began in 1988, of all of us being at the Olympic Games is coming true. It wasn’t until 2000, that the sport of Taekwondo became a full medal sport at the Olympics but from that point on we knew it was only a matter of time before we would walk into Opening Ceremonies together as a family. I can’t even imagine how we will feel on 8-8-08 but I know it is going to be a very memorable moment for all of us.

We will have a busy week as this is our last week at home. We leave on Friday for San Jose. Everyone is looking really good and we are all excited to get to Singapore and continue training before heading to Beijing. Charlotte Craig, the fourth member of the team, has been training with us in Houston and she has become like our little sister. She has joked around with the media saying she is the blonde Lopez. She is a great sport and she has a very bright future ahead of her. She has been soaking it all in and is ready to get to Beijing and experience the Olympic Games.

In case you all haven’t seen the story, there is a nice article on our family in the July 28 issue of People Magazine with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt on the cover. The story and photos were great, so make sure and pick up a copy. My daughter, Alyxandra, liked the fact that her name was mentioned in the article.

Tuesday night on NBC's America's Got Talent Show the AT&T/3 Doors Down music video for the Olympic Games will debut. In the video they feature various Olympic athletes including me and my family so be sure to watch that tonight and look for us in the video.

I would like to thank Lenovo for giving us the opportunity to do this blog and for the cool gadgets they sent us to allow us to connect with the fans out there. People ask me if it is hard for me to be the coach and the big brother and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard at times but at the same time I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world. I think by being the older brother, it gives me an advantage as a coach because I know my brothers and sister so well that I can read what they are thinking without them actually saying anything. Also they know they can trust me whole heartedly and having that kind of trust in your coach is a definite advantage. When I was young my father, Julio, put me in the position to serve in the leadership role for my siblings and it is a role I still take very seriously today and I do it with great pride.

Well I better get off the computer and spend some time with my wife, Tabetha, and our three kids, Alyxandra, Diego and Andres. I also better get to packing since we only have a few days left before we leave. Thanks for reading and will check-in with you again once in Beijing.

Amazing Awaits!!!


Monday, July 14, 2008

11 Days until we leave for the Olympics

Monday, July 14

Hello everyone!!! It's me, Diana! 11 more days until we leave for San Jose (Calif.) for team processing. I am really excited and anxious to see what we will be getting in terms of clothes. Ralph Lauren is Team USA's official outfitters for the opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies so hopefully they will have some cool clothes for us to wear.

Workout has been going well. I have to be 125.6 pounds when I weigh-in in Beijing, and I have been weighing 129. No need to be so low on weight right now because the last 3 lbs is basically water weight.

Saturday the City of Sugar Land, recognized my family and I during an event in Town Square. They read a proclamation and then we signed autographs. It was a fun event.

For those reading this, if you happen to go to Barnes and Nobles or any store that sells magazines, make sure you buy the August issues of "Vibe" and "Men's Journal". My brothers and I have a spread in each of the magazines. I happen to like the picture in the Vibe magazine (since I'm not in my taekwondo uniform). My nephew refers to me as "Wonder Woman"..he pretty much made my day! :) We also have a short write-up in “Men’s Fitness” as well and Steven is featured in “Men’s Health.” Be sure to watch the Today Show on Wednesday, July 16 as they are supposed to air our feature with Tiki Barber in the 8:30 half-hour.

I would also like to thank Lenovo for the cool ideapad computer they sent me to do this blog. We have also been using our Flipcams and hope to post video soon.

Well, it's time for my daily nap. Hope u all have a good week.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hello from Diana Lopez

Hello to everyone! My name is Diana Lopez. I am 24 years old and I am a native of Houston, Texas (born and raised). I am on the 2008 Olympic Taekwondo Team along with my three older brothers - 2 in which are competing (Mark and Steven) and my oldest brother, Jean, will be our coach. I am the youngest child and the only girl (I know what some of you might be thinking...poor girl) haha.

Some of you might have seen us on AT&T commercials. We shot a total of five commercials – two in English and three in Spanish. In one of them, I beat up my older brother showing him how fast my new broadband from AT&T is and the other English commercial features my whole family, where I do a cartwheel over the couch trying to steal the remote from my father. We had a ton of fun shooting these but I had no idea until I did this how long it takes to film a commercial. We were also on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno at the end of April, which was a definite highlight of this year.

Be sure to keep reading my blogs as I will keep you updated on my daily/weekly news. I will make sure to post pictures and videos! I'm looking forward to hearing from anyone out there reading my blogs! :) have a great day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mark Lopez a.k.a. The Great One

June 25, 2008

Hello everyone, my name is Mark Anthony Lopez a.k.a The Great One :) I started taekwondo at the age of 5 and after 21 years of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, I am on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team for the sport of taekwondo. You cannot imagine how excited I am to be on this journey to Beijing and be able to represent the United States of America at the greatest sporting event in history! The best part about it is that I will be taking this journey with my two older brothers, my little sister, and.....YOU!!

My oldest brother, Jean, has been my only coach and he was selected to coach the Olympic team even before I got on the team so it is just an added bonus. My other brother, Steven, is a two-time gold medalist in the sport of Taekwondo and the most decorated taekwondo athlete in the world. He will be looking to add a third gold medal to his collection, while my little sister, Diana and I will be looking to add an Olympic gold medal to our resume. We all made history in 2005 when Steven, Diana and I all won gold medals at the 2005 World Taekwondo Championships in Madrid, Spain, where we were coached by our brother Jean. Never before had three siblings won titles in the same sport in the same year. We are hoping to repeat the three-peat in Beijing.

To catch you up a little bit, I made the U.S. Olympic Team on April 5 in Des Moines, Iowa. I fought against my training partner and good friend Chris Martinez. I won the match 3-2 and celebrated with my signature back flip on the mat. It was such a great feeling to have finally made the team. We then watched Diana’s match with great excitement and anticipation. Her match went into overtime but like a true champion she came out victorious in the sudden death overtime and was named to the U.S. Olympic Team making it a true family affair. I can’t wait to walk into Opening Ceremonies with my whole family.

I went to Sydney and Athens to watch Steven fight but to actually participate is a dream come true. My father (Julio) went to the last two Olympics to watch Steven but my mom (Ondina) gets too nervous so she hasn’t been. She made a deal with us that if we all made the team she would go. So my mom will be at the Olympics for the first time.

Probably the coolest thing that has happened to me so far is that Steven, Diana and myself were on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno show on April 29. I was more excited when my agent, Cecil Bleiker called to tell me that we were going to be on the show, than when I actually made the Olympic team. It made me realize then that all our hard work and dedication to the sport was paying off. My family and I have also been featured in AT&T commercials – two in English and three in Spanish – and in Hilton Family of Hotel ads. We have also been interviewed by numerous media, too many to count, but I am taking it all in and living every minute of this to its fullest.

I will be posting my blog throughout the next couple of months to allow you to take a peek into this exciting time and be a part of history in the making, so be sure to check back often. Diana, Steven and Jean will also be chiming in from time to time so you will have a chance to hear from all four of us. It should be fun.

Amazing Awaits!!

Mark Anthony Lopez
2008 U.S. Olympic Team