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.
Mark Anthony Lopez
2008 U.S. Olympic Team