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21 Aug 2012

Colorado Siblings Win Gold at TKD Nationals

Colorado Siblings Win Gold at TKD Nationals

Originally published at http://www.denverpost.com 

 Written by: Ros Dumlao 

As taekwondo siblings Diana and Steven Lopez bowed out of the London Olympics last week, they might just be paving the way for a new sibling duo. 

Exit the Lopez's — a U.S. taekwondo powerhouse family that owns five Olympic medals — and enter Joshua and Grace Kosloski. 

Though talking Olympics is a bit too much for Joshua, 12, and Grace, 9, the Colorado siblings watched the London Games and are allowed to dream the Olympic dream. 

"When I see all the people win, they're really happy," Joshua said. "They're kissing their medals and hugging each other. I want to feel like that too." 

So far, he's on the right track. 

In July, Joshua won the AAU taekwondo national championship for his blackbelt division in Olympic-style sparring. That sets him up to qualify for the U.S. taekwondo national team. His sister, also a blackbelt, won in her division. This was the first time the siblings won gold together at the same competition, and for their unique accomplishments, they earned The Denver Post Youth Excellence in Sports (YES!) award for July. 

Joshua's parents enrolled him in taekwondo when he was 4, partly because he was half Korean and also because they liked the disciplinary element of the Korean self-defense system, as well as the convenience of the sport compared with outdoor sports. As the family traveled for Joshua's competitions, Grace tagged along and eventually got into the sport too. 

"Josh was just this super, super shy kid," said Bill Pottle, the third head master of the Korean Academy of Taekwondo in Aurora. "He's gained so much confidence from taekwondo, it's amazing. You wouldn't believe he's the same kid." 

One of Joshua's hidden talents is his ability to raise his game when the pressure is on, Pottle said before adding: "It just brings the best out of him." 

Though Grace might be in the shadow of her brother, her time will come as she gets older and gains experience. 

She spars with her brother, and though she loses about 90 percent of the time, she reaps the benefits of training with her big brother. 

"When she's on, she's almost impossible to beat," Pottle said. "Sometimes she'll spar another girl, and the other girl will be like, 'I don't want to spar her. She kicks too hard.' " 

Joshua attends Thunder Ridge Middle School, while Grace goes to Antelope Ridge Elementary, and their parents have no intention of leaving Colorado as their kids enjoy success in the sport. In fact, Joshua's coach, KomilJon Latipov, said they're training for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

Joshua's father, Ray, said he's received advice to move to taekwondo hubs California or Texas, where the Lopez family holds its academy, for his kids to train. But they're following a similar path taken by five-time Olympic medalist swimmer Missy Franklin,who stayed in Colorado to train with her coach. 

"We think that if Josh and Grace are winning in Colorado at this level with this coach, we don't need to sacrifice our time and energy to changing our lifestyle."

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