RAPID CITY, S.D. — When it comes to the Olympic Games, we’ve seen some pretty big stories.
Athletes from around the world giving it their all for their events.
But for Sturgis native Paige McPherson, who’s entering her third trip to the games, this one means more.
She’s the first USA Female in Taekwondo to go to three consecutive Olympic Games. As an older athlete, she’s qualified by being regarded as one of the top six Olympians in the sport.
“My two previous Olympics, I didn’t qualify directly, I qualified through the Panam Regionals, so again, to being a older athlete and directing myself, even having a better percent at an older age was a huge accomplishment for me and my sport,” Paige said.
Her first trip to 2012 Olympic Games in London yielded a bronze medal.
That excitement from London has carried over, but there’s nothing like a first taste of winning among the world’s finest.
“You talk about excitement, it was after the fact, but yeah,” said David McPherson, Paige’s Father. “We were just happy to be in London. London was amazing and then she did what she did and we just, yeah, we were tickled. We floated home. We didn’t need an airplane.”
Adversity came in 2016 when Paige made a trip to the games in Rio and lost in her first fight.
In fact, it changed everything.
She became more of a strategic student of the sport – and her fight became a chess match.
“I want to figure it out like a game of chess, you know, I’m not there to like push my way physically like bully people, it’s just me kinda figuring out the game in that moment,” Paige said.
Now the only thing that’s left is a strong finish and an important reminder that it truly is anyone’s game.
“People rise to the occasion at the Olympics, you know, it’s kind of a level playing field per say as far as everyone’s under that pressure, everyone’s you know, fighting for something bigger than themselves,” Paige said.
A local watch party is being held at the Loud American Restaurant in Sturgis on Sunday night.
Paige’s fight starts at 7 p.m. M.T.