Olympic Dreams: Local teen hopes to represent country with martial arts

HARLINGEN — Alyssa Barnes plans on kicking her way onto the Junior Olympic team next summer.

And then her next goal is to represent the country on the U.S. Olympic taekwondo team and win a gold medal at the 2020 games in Japan.

Alyssa, 15, trains at the Pil Sung Taekwondo Black Belt Academy in Harlingen. She earned her black belt in martial arts last year. This school year, she’ll be attending Cano Academy.

She joined the school to learn self defense. Her teacher, Master Eric Arriaga, who was a Junior Olympian, said he sees potential in Alyssa as an Olympian.

Her first goal was to earn her black belt and then make the Junior Olympic team.

Alyssa, standing at nearly 6 feet tall, usually gets paired up with male competitors at local tournaments.

She practices daily with other black belts and trains to master taekwondo kicks and forms to prepare for self defense and local and national tournaments.

For the last tournament she participated in, Alyssa traveled to Atlanta to compete against taekwondo competitors at the national championship meet where the winners were also competing for a chance to make the Junior Olympic team.

For the rest of this story and many other EXTRAS, go to our premium site, www.MyValleyStar.com.

Subscribe to it for only $6.99 per month or purchase a print subscription and receive the online version free, which includes an electronic version of the full newspaper and extra photo galleries, links and other information you can’t find anywhere else.