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LCRD taekwondo center athlete wins gold medal
David Betts, 17, won a gold medal at the 2008 Junior National Olympics in Detroit. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
A team member from the Liberty County Recreation Department's Taekwondo Sports Center competed in the 2008 Junior National Olympics in Detroit the first weekend of July.
David Betts, 17, pitted his talent against some of the toughest competitors in the nation and, in the end, stood on the center podium to accept his gold medal.
It's not his first time at nationals
as Betts medalled there last year
but the gold brings him closer to his long term dream of being an Olympian.
"Once I get my black belt then
I'll start working on winning nationals," he said. "And then the Canadian Open and get points to go to the Olympics."
Betts, who is currently a blue belt, said he hopes to earn his black belt in the next year or two. Once he earns his black belt he will be eligible to earn points.
"I'm looking forward to 2012," he said. "I'm going to go into the military and become a part of their World Class athletes program and train for the Olympics, like master (Rafael) Medina did."
Medina, Betts’ coach, started his Taekwondo career in the army when the Army finally recognized it as a competitive sport and formed a team in October of 1987.
Medina earned a bronze medal and slowly worked his way to the coaching staff for the Army and Armed Forces Teams. He is among ten other individuals recognized as coach for the Armed Forces.
"It makes me feel super proud," Medina said when he was told Betts wanted to follow in his footsteps. "When you have goals most of the time you follow the example of a mentor or leader so to hear that one of my athletes thinks of me as his mentor and guide makes me feel awesome."
Medina said Betts listened and believed in the strategy and instructions he was given at nationals and that helped push him toward the gold medal. The coach said Betts has the potential to be a future Olympian.
 "He does a lot of sports and his discipline has changed for the best," Medina said. "He learned the skills to fight and it has increased his confidence. And if you believe that you can do it you will follow your dream."
Betts said he was a little nervous being the only LCRD team member able to travel to nationals.
"It was a lot of weight on my shoulders," he said. "I was fighting for the LCRD and Liberty County and I was happy to be able to go and represent my team.
"I'm so proud of him," his mother Laura said. "He's always busy and active. He liked gymnastics when he was younger. He was always climbing jumping and scaring me to death."

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