July 16, 2010
by Scott Thien
AS REPORTED ON INDYSTAR.COM

After 14 years of taekwondo training, several broken bones and countless regional and national tournaments in a dozen states, Jeremy Raymer has done what few Hoosiers have in the past three decades.

He qualified for a shot at making the U.S. National Taekwondo Team, after winning a bronze medal at USA Taekwondo’s National Championships earlier this month. That means Raymer, 21, Indianapolis, is ranked third among U.S. heavyweight taekwondo fighters, qualifying him for January’s World Championship Team Trials in Colorado Springs, Colo.

A top win there would put Raymer the national team and make him one of only a handful of Hoosier athletes to make the elite squad, including longtime instructor Garth Cooley of Castleton’s Korea Taekwondo Academy. “I met one of my first goals, to medal at nationals,” said Raymer, who joins Cooley as the only Indiana men to compete at team trials. “If I win at trials, I’ll represent the United States (at the World Championships). And that will put me one step closer to my ultimate goal: to compete at the biggest tournament known — the Olympics.”

Cooley said Raymer’s determination and drive to succeed are his biggest assets.

“None of his competition ‘scares’ him and he is eager to go against the best and prove that he is the best of all,” Cooley said. Raymer, a fourth-degree black belt, was among 35 Indiana athletes to compete at USAT’s nationals and Junior Olympics, which drew 1,500 black belts and 1,400 color belts to the two events June 29-July 4 in Orlando, Fla., according to USAT.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Raymer, a business student at Ivy Tech and 2007 graduate of Lawrence North High School, missed nationals last year because of a broken foot. This year, he fought in the 18- to 32-year-old division. Raymer wasn’t the only Hoosier to come home with hardware. Cooley, 43, a former two-time U.S. national team member and world sparring medalist, earned three spots on the U.S. National Taekwondo Poomsae Team, in individual forms, pairs forms and three-man team forms. Cooley won six gold medals and one bronze at the national team trials.

“I am blessed to have this opportunity,” said Cooley, whose students number about 200 at his Northeastside academy. “The U.S. Team Trial is very competitive, and I may never have a chance to represent in all three categories again.”

Cooley’s pairs partner is Kristi George, 47, an Indianapolis neurologist who won three gold and three silver medals in forms at the trials. In 1990, George was a bronze medalist at the World University Taekwondo Championships and competed at the Pan Am Championships.

Cooley’s three-man team is a repeat from the past three years, featuring instructors Ron Southwick of Michigan and David Turgeon of Connecticut. In October, George, Cooley and his teammates will represent the U.S. at the 5th World Poomsae Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. While eager to represent the U.S. again, Cooley is especially proud of Raymer’s accomplishment.

“I am more excited that Jeremy has successfully made it into the pipeline to make the World Championships than any other successes our team had (at nationals), including mine. He has worked very hard and has overcome several obstacles, demonstrating hallmark qualities of taekwondo discipline and indomitable spirit.”

Eight other KTA students won a total of 11 medals at the tournaments.

They were: Mark Baker, 22, Indianapolis, silver, forms.
Jackson Dunlavy, 8, Indianapolis, silver, breaking.
Kaitlin Dunlavy, 10, Indianapolis, silver, forms.
Colette Goad, 14, Fishers, gold, sparring.
Levi King, 10, Indianapolis, gold and bronze for forms, bronze for breaking.
Mark MacLaren, 16, Fortville, gold for forms, silver for breaking.
Matt MacLaren, 16, Fortville, silver for forms.
Jane Tsai, 53, Indianapolis, bronze, forms.

More information can be found on the USAT Web site: www.usa-taekwondo.us.
Call Star reporter Scott Thien at (317) 444-6912.

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