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Two win medals at Junior Olympics
David Betts (left), coach Rafael Medina and Bethany Lormis went to California for the Junior Olympics USA Tae Kwon Do competitions and brought home medals. Betts, 16, won silver and bronze while Lormis, 10, brought home two golds. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon


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Two Liberty County youngsters medaled in tae kwon do at the Junior National Olympics last week in California. Bethany Lormis, 10, won a gold medal in forms and a gold in sparring and David Betts, 16, earned silver in forms and a bronze in sparring during their competition against some of the finest tae kwon do olympic-style kickboxing competitors from around the United States.  
Both Betts and Lormis are part of the LCRD sports tae kwon do center and are guided by coach Rafael Medina, a world competitive winner during his days in the Army.
“We went all the way to California and brought home four medals. Other teams from Alaska and Hawaii made the same far trip and did not medal, so for us as a team it was a major accomplishment,” Medina said.
He said he is proud of Betts and Lormis and described feeling as if he were in the ring with his protégés fighting with them and being a part of process. Medina, a native of Puerto Rico, began martial arts before joining the Army in 1979 and began competing for the Army team. During the Military World Games he won a bronze medal for the team and was later inducted into a hall of fame.
He is currently a sixth degree black belt in tae kwon do and said he preferred it to other forms of martial arts when it comes to competition because it is more structured to the safety of the individuals competing, uses traditional techniques and is internationally sanctioned and recognized.
Bringing home four medals was an unexpected surprise, but one Medina and the rest of the LCRD coaching staff and teammates are ecstatic about.
“We only teach and train twice a week and some of those athletes at the meet train every day except for Sunday. You can’t compare the training, but what gives us the edge is we concentrate more on olympic-style training,” Medina said.
Betts is currently a green belt and aspires to compete in the Olympics in the future. He and Lormis both qualified for the Junior Olympics by competing at a qualifier in Miami earlier this year.
He described his biggest challenge during the competition as being the different variations of fighting techniques from fighter to fighter.
“One can be very fast and agile another may be heavy set, hits harder and has better form,” Betts said. “My goal is a black belt and the Olympics. I will have to train real hard, eat right and listen to my coach.”
This was his second Junior Olympics.
Lormis was excited about bringing home two gold medals and plans to continue her training with the hopes of financing her education.
“I was proud and excited I went to the Junior Olympic qualifiers in Miami and made it to the finals in California,” she said. “It was great to wing two gold medals. I want to get my black belt. I used to play in softball, but now I’m concentrating on this sport.
“For my future, I wish to get a college scholarship and maybe become a teacher.”
Medina believes with hard work and training both can attain their black belts in two to three years.
“I know that they have big dreams and that is part of the goal for most athletes,” the coach said. “It’s a long and challenging to go from the level they are in now to full olympic-style competitiveness. In the future, one of these kids may make the Olympics one day representing Hinesville, that would be fantastic.”
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