For a person’s first attempt at the Pan Am Tae Kwon Do Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a silver medal finish isn’t half bad, but one TCU student said he wanted to achieve even more. Stephen Lambdin, a freshman premajor, said he was initially upset he didn’t win the gold medal.
However, he was fighting experienced 26-year-olds when he had only spent a year on the U.S. Senior National Team.
“I was upset that I didn’t win,” Lambdin said. “But, at the same time, I was proud because I knew I was taking stepping stones to winning the championship in the future.”
Lambdin said the Pam Am Tae Kwon Do Championships take place every two years.
Tae kwon do lessons were a birthday present for Lambdin when he was 6 years old and was allowed to begin training.
Lambdin, 18, said he will compete in tae kwon do until he is 32 years old, which Lamdin said is the cutoff age to compete in the Olympics.
His coach from the very start, Jeff Pinaroc, owner of Chang Lee’s Tae Kwon Do in Arlington, said that it took some time for Lambdin to catch on, but his turning point was when he qualified for his first National Junior Team in 2002.
He made the National Junior Team three times after that, and in 2005, he made the National Senior Team.
“This year’s win was an impressive one since it was his first year, and it was a tough year for him,” Pinaroc said.
Though Lambdin has had some difficulty this year because it was his first year on the U.S. Senior National Team, he said he is guided by God.
“I pray to him before every competition,” Lambdin said.
He considers Senior National Team member Tim Thacarey his role model in sports.
“He has taken me under his wing and taught me a lot because he is a veteran on the team,” Lambdin said.
Lambdin has visited all over the world for tae kwon do competitions, something Pinaroc attributes to Lambdin’s maturity.
“He is a very mature 18-year-old, and he handles traveling well,” said Pinaroc.
Maturity is just one characteristic that makes Lambdin stand out, his second coach, Dong Lee, owner of Chang Lee’s Taekwondo in Mesquite, said.
Lambdin has had a lot of the ingredients to be a champion fighter, he said.
“As far as his level, you have to have a certain amount of talent to keep pushing the envelop,” Lee said.
Lee has known Lambdin for 10 years and has worked with Lambdin for three years.
When Lee first started working with Lambdin, he gave input while Pinaroc coached, Lee said.
Lee works more with Lambdin on fundamentals, technique and basic strategy. Lee created a yoga program called mooshin, which is a combination of several techniques like yoga, tei pei, martial movement and free flowing energy.
“It is getting his mind in tune with his body,” Lee said.
Next up for Lambdin is U.S. Team Trials for World Championships in Beijing, and Lee said Lambdin has a legitimate chance at making the team.