Olympic bronze medalist Paige McPherson’s life is dipped in all sorts of colors. Sunday though, the 22-year-old taekwondo star, part Filipino, part black, focused on the only color that really matters to her — gold.
After beating Alexandra Cinque 6-1 in the women’s welter title match at the USA Taekwondo Team Trials at the Olympic Training Center, Paige looked up to her white adoptee parents and smiled. She knows she wouldn’t be here without them.
In the 2012 Olympics in London, Paige won the bronze medal and now, thanks to Sunday’s win, has her eyes set on gold in 2016 at Rio.
But the journey started well before.
At age 4 living in South Dakota, Paige would ride along with her adopted mother, Susan, to watch her Korean brother participate in his taekwondo club. On the way to and from the club, Paige, a ballerina, would dance in her car seat.
But once there, she watched closely, and it wasn’t long before she wanted in.
“I wanted to be like my big brother,” Paige said of Evan, who is two years older than her. “I wanted to do everything he did.”
At age 5, Susan took Paige to the taekwondo club to participate, to which her destiny rolled itself out to her — kind of.
“The instructor told me to bring her back in six months. She was a little too active,” Susan laughed. “So I did, and then he told me to bring her back in another six months … So she began taekwondo at age 6, while still dancing.”
Paige’s long legs and unusually flexible hips and ankles make her a natural in taekwondo and dancing. As she grew up, she kept fighting and dancing. But in high school, she knew to be serious in either, she had to choose one.
“Both dance and taekwondo are similar. I mean one you have to keep your leg up, and the other you kick it up. They are both my passions, but I chose (taekwondo),” said Paige pointing to the fighting mats. “I wanted to try and represent my country. I wanted to represent my family.”
It is a family that hails from every part of the world.
Paige talks with her biological mother, Shonna, over Skype or Facebook. Paige said that her mother is glad she gave her up to ensure she had a better life.
But still, sometimes Paige wonders what it is like to be around people related to her. To this day, she doesn’t know her biological father and at the Games, she wondered if he’d recognize her on television.
But after another stepping stone accomplished Sunday, her goal is Rio with a focus on every tournament until then.
And as she sat by her mom and dad, Susan and Dave, she couldn’t seem happier.