Summerville Taekwondo athletes strive to make Olympic Team

From left, Nik Poland and Rusty Gresham both turned in a Top 3 performance during the USA Taekwondo 2019 Senior Grand Slam tournament.

Summerville Taekwondo athletes Nik Poland and Rusty Gresham have qualified to participate in the USA Taekwondo Olympic Team selection process.

The two athletes, who trained at Ray Smith’s Taekwondo in Oakbrook before joining the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, both finished in the Top 8 for their division at the 2019 Senior Grand Slam last month in Colorado Springs to receive a bid to participate in the selection process.

Poland accumulated 160 ranking points on his way to qualifying for his fifth National Team. He won the Grand Slam in the combined Lightweight/Welterweight division. The win earned him a $1,000 prize.

Gresham placed second in the combine Middleweight/Heavyweight division to also move on to the next Olympic Team selection tournament. He accumulated 100 ranking points during the Grand Slam.

Both athletes now train at the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program facility in Colorado. That program allows top-ranked soldier-athletes to perform internationally while also serving their nation.

Footage of some of Poland’s bouts at the Grand Slam can be viewed at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=E2oX_iQuMPE. Footage of some of Gresham’s bouts can be viewed at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CM8OEEUmLBQ.