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Melville boy makes his national mark in taekwondo competitions

Preston Park, a third-grader at Birchwood Intermediate School

Preston Park, a third-grader at Birchwood Intermediate School in Huntington Station, won two gold medals and one silver medal at the 2017 USA Taekwondo National Championships in Detroit. Credit: Jay Park

A Melville boy is making his mark in the world of taekwondo, where he is ranked No. 1 nationally in his division.

Preston Park, a third-grader at Birchwood Intermediate School in Huntington Station, won two gold medals and a silver medal this past summer at the 2017 USA Taekwondo National Championships in Detroit, where he competed in the black belt division for competitors ages 8 and 9. His golds came in World Taekwondo Federation individual male poomsae [form] and breaking boards, while his silver came in Olympic-style sparring.

To reach the national level, Preston placed first at qualifying tournaments in New York, New Jersey and Maryland. He was slated to represent the United States this month at the 2017 World Taekwondo President’s Cup in Las Vegas, but could not compete because of injury.

His goal, he said, is to one day represent the United States in the Olympics.

“I think it’s great to be No. 1,” said Preston, 8. “I train very hard.”

He also won two gold medals earlier this year at the 2017 U.S. World Open Taekwondo Championships in Portland. His total medal count from various tournaments is 34 gold, seven silver and five bronze awards.

His weekly training regimen is 25-plus hours during the summer and 16 hours during the school year at Jung’s Ultimate Tae Kwon Do in Commack, he said.

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