National Champion Leonardo Chang


Evelyn Noronha, editor in chief

Freshman Leonardo Chang not only qualified for the 2018 National Collegiate taekwondo competition, but he also placed first at the competition.

Chang is trained by his coaches Master Dennis Kim and Master Alex Kim at Phoenix Taekwondo in Ashburn.

“First there is a qualifier event where you have to qualify,” Master Alex said. “He qualified through the Virginia State Governor’s Cup. He won that, which qualified him for the National championship.”

A couple years ago, Chang won Nationals in the Cadet Division. He has moved up to Junior with 15 to 17-year-old.

“It was just hard because I’m 14 years old and I’m fighting older people,” Chang said. “I just moved to a new age category, so I’m fighting 17-year-olds.”

Despite being a little fish in a big pond, Chang has been working hard to further his career.

“When it comes to taekwondo, he’s a great student,” Master Alex said. “He wants to learn and he is very motivated. He is pretty smart in the ring. He has the temperament and the work ethic.”

Chang is at a very competitive level. The next step forward would be the Olympics.

“The Olympics is our ultimate goal,” Master Alex said. “Leo’s goal would be the 2024 Olympics.”

Chang has big shoes to fill. His brother, Alejandro Chang is ranked number one in the world.

“Leo is trying to catch up to him,” Master Alex said.

The head coach for the team is also a national team coach. Master Dennis Kim has been training Chang to achieve his goals.

“We are the number one ranked team in the country,” Master Alex said. “Seems like every other person on our sparring team is some sort of National champion. We have someone competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”