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Martial artist: del Rosario wins world title in sparring

Valencia resident is a black belt taekwondo practitioner

Posted: July 13, 2009 10:23 p.m.
Updated: July 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Victoria del Rosario, 8, won an American Taekwondo Association World Championship in her sparring division in late June in Little Rock, Ark.

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As a child, your potential seems limitless.

Some children want to be firefighters. Others want to be astronauts.

At the age of 4, Victoria del Rosario wanted to be a world champion in taekwondo.

A lofty goal, indeed.

Now 8 years old, the Valencia resident has done just that.

On June 24 in Little Rock, Ark., del Rosario defeated her friend Abigail Kirshy from Port Charlotte, Fla., to win the American Taekwondo Association World Championship in sparring in the 7-under division.

Del Rosario is a first-degree black belt out of Gavin Espinosa’s ATA Black Belt Academy in Stevenson Ranch.

Though she is now 8, del Rosario was 7 years old when the competition cycle began.

“As her instructor I can’t help but be extremely proud of her,” says Espinosa, a fifth-degree black belt and the school’s owner. “The commitment. She denied herself all the normal things that kids her age would have enjoyed. She was strong enough and she found a way to enjoy the process as well.”

Held at the Alltel Arena, which has a seating capacity of 18,000, representatives from all over the United States and countries such as Korea, Brazil, South Africa, Peru, Paraguay, Mexico and Canada competed in events including sparring, forms and weapons.

According to the ATA official Web site, there are more than 1,500 licensed organizations worldwide.

The young del Rosario took second in forms and third in weapons.

Her whole family was in attendance.

“They were like, ‘I am so proud of you. We need to throw a party,’” del Rosario says.

But to have her family by her side was significant on another level.

Her 11-year-old brother Jason is a two-time world champion and, along with their father Julius, a black belt himself.

“He was a really big inspiration,” Victoria says of her brother.

She remembers when she set her sights on winning a world championship.

“When my brother won it first, because I always wanted to be like him,” she says.

Because of her family’s growing legacy in the sport, Victoria got extra training when she left the studio, working with her father and brother at home.

That made Victoria’s accomplishment that much sweeter for her family.

“It was great,” says Jason of watching his sister compete. “I had a knot in my stomach the whole time. I am very proud of Victoria. She did great.”

The competition can be grueling, facing opponent after opponent.

Combatants square off and attempt to score points with clean strikes to various parts of the body.

The first person to post five points, or whoever is ahead after two minutes, is declared the winner.

“It gets really tiring if the people are bigger than me,” Victoria says. “But I sort of had an advantage because of the training and I am taller than the other girls.”

She returned home with not just a gold medal, but also the admiration of her teammates.

“I think the respect people has given me has become a lot bigger,” she says. “A lot of times people have said, ‘Great job Victoria. Really good job.’”

Espinosa agrees, and when asked by parents if their children are too young to begin martial arts, he says he simply points at Victoria.

More than that, the little girl whose dream seemed too big to achieve is now a testament to hard work and maturity.

“What you do every single day means something,” Espinosa says. “You start thinking beyond the moment and start thinking ahead.”

For a parent, few words can describe the accomplishment, one that has graced the family three times.

“I am a proud father, that is for sure.” Julius says.


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