Olympic bronze medalist McPherson comes home to Black HillsRAPID CITY (AP) — Paige McPherson looks back on the past few months and can’t help but smile.
By: JEFF BUDLONG, The Rapid City Journal
RAPID CITY (AP) — Paige McPherson looks back on the past few months and can’t help but smile.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in taekwondo from Sturgis has been all over the globe since winning her medal in London, but now she gets a little time with friends and family back in the Black Hills.
“My journey is pretty funny because three months ago I was wishing and hoping and never knowing what was going to happen,” she said. “It was a long journey, but I loved the journey part of it.”
McPherson admitted to being nervous the day of the Olympic competition, but it also taught her something new about herself.
“I lost my second match, but once I realized I had another chance I just went out and had fun,” she said. “When I actually went out and had fun and just enjoyed the moment, I fought better than I fought before.
“The whole day was one of the longest days of my life, but it was actually one of the most exciting moments of my life.”
So the greatest moment from London? The bronze medal, right?
“Just being there and the whole thing was an amazing time,” McPherson said. “When we got there and went to opening ceremonies and to be around all of these other amazing, talented athletes. I think that was one of the best moments to just walk in during opening ceremonies.”
McPherson, 21, continues to see the impact of her bronze-medal performance, making a trip with other Olympians to the White House to meet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. She was also recognized in New York as a female Olympic medal winner by the WNBA.
Now, McPherson is back in the Black Hills and will take part in several events that will allow her to see the same people that supported her as she went from learning under Master Cody Shepperson at Black Hawk Taekowndo to Olympic bronze medalist.
“I have had a lot of people come up me and congratulate me and tell me, ‘Thanks for putting South Dakota on the map,’” McPherson said. “I love that it brings everyone close.
“It is going to be a good experience to go back to where you live, and get to celebrate with the people you know who appreciate it a little bit more. It means a lot to me.”
So how are McPherson’s four siblings adjusting to having an Olympic medal winner at home?
“I think they are just happy for me, but they are shocked just as I was,” she said.
“I am just happy that I feel like my family has gotten closer, a little more supportive and proud of me more.”
McPherson, who is contemplating an international business major as she continues to take college courses, plans to continue to compete, but she is taking it competition by competition, and not declaring any intentions for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Rio is definitely is in my goals, I guess, but at the same time we will see,” she said.
“You never know what will happen in four years. So right now, I am focusing on world cup, world championships, going next year and winning that.”
One thing McPherson is sure won’t happen is burnout.
“One thing I love about this sport is you never know, so it will keep me on my toes and keep me training hard. So we will see,” she said.