Paige McPherson competes in Olympic Games

Dakota Digest - 07/27/12

Paige McPherson has modest beginnings.  She grew up in Sturgis and graduated from the Black Hills Classical Christian Academy in 2009. Paige has since been making history as one of America's most recognizable ladies in the world of martial arts. 

For today's Dakota Digest - SDPB's Amy Varland has Paige's story on her journey from a small town in South Dakota to the 2012 London Summer Olympic games.

TaeKwonDo has been a medal sport in the Olympics since 2000.  Prior to that it was only a demonstration sport - that's where the athlete got credit for participation, but the country did not. 

But in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Paige McPherson, nicknamed "McFierce", is representing the United States on the Olympic TaeKwonDo team. 

Paige McPherson was born in Abilene, Texas but her stay there was brief.       

"The beginning of my story is when I was four days old when I was adopted by my parents and I was taken back to the McPherson family and everyone knows the McPherson family as the Rainbow Family.  They would call us.  It's just because my parents adopted five of us.  Three girls and two boys and we were adopted from all around the world," says Paige McPherson.

Of Paige's four siblings, two are Native American, one is Korean, and one is Caribbean.  Paige is Pilipino and African American. 

Paige's mother Susan McPherson says Paige began her butt-kicking career early in life. She describes a scuffle between Paige's brother Evan and the neighbor kid.  Paige was three at the time.  

"The little buddy and Evan got in a fraykus and they were shoving each other they were mad at each other and Paige took one shot, I don't know what she was doing but she ran over and she's on this little four year olds back and she's just pounding him.  You know, don't you hurt my brother, because Evan was crying.  And she was like ugh, I've got to do something.  So she leaps on him like piggy back, pounding on him, and I pulled her off and the kid just tore home crying.  I should run over there and see if he remembers," says Susan McPherson.

Paige says she remembers always wanting to follow in her brother Evan's footsteps. 

"He was in TaeKwonDo and then I wanted start TaeKwonDo and I started probably two years after he started and then after myself my sister Hannah started and even my nephew Ethan started TaeKwonDo too so it was a family affair," says Paige McPherson.

Paige's parents saw the natural athletic talent in their daughter but her mother says they were reluctant to send her into the ring.

"We were thinking, oh I don't think so.  We'd rather have you in dance.  You know, you don't need that and we don't want our little girl getting kicked, and learning how to kick, and punch and ahh.  But nope, she was insistent," says Susan McPherson.

Paige began training under Master Cody Shepperson from Black Hawk.  He helped her with the basics.  But according to Paige's Mom, Cody believed Paige needed to move on to move up.

"Cody knew that he couldn't take her any farther than he had.  And you really had to be committed to spar with our daughter because she was just a dynamo," says Susan McPherson.

From Black Hawk Paige sparred her way to the top of the TaeKwonDo charts. 

After winning bronze in the 2002 Junior Olympics Paige never looked back.  She took gold in the 2008 Pan Am Championships.  She won gold as a welterweight in the 2008 US Open & brought home silver in the 2011 Pan Am Olympic Qualifier.

Most recently Paige took first place in the 2011 Olympic Trials Finals defeating second seed Nia Abdallah.  That win secured her position on the 2012 United States TaeKwonDo Olympic team.

Paige now trains under U.S. National Team Coach Juan Miguel Moreno.  He is a three time Olympian medalist himself.  He has advice for Paige to remember during her Olympic match.

"She has to believe in herself, remember what got her there, and trust her instincts.  And probably the biggest thing - this is super hard for Olympians - is to enjoy the moment, and to actually have fun," says Moreno.

Paige says she's focused on the Olympic Games.  She shares the motto her instructor instilled in her early on. It's called the three B's. 

"When I was led to the ring I was always so nervous so he would always would just be like Paige breathe.   Embrace the moment.  Don't worry, but don't be overly excited, just live in the moment.  The second ‘B' would be believe.  Believe in yourself first of all.  Believe that you're capable of winning and that you deserve to be here.  Believe in God for giving you your God-given talent.  And then finally be yourself.  If you're not yourself how are you able to win if you don't know yourself," says Paige McPherson.

Paige and her team mates traveled from Miami to London on July 24th. Her parents are traveling to the games in London to cheer her on.  And Paige's fans here in South Dakota are watching and cheering for her - hoping that McFierce brings home the gold.




























Click here to play Real Media:
Paige McPherson competes in Olympic Games
Get the Flash Player to see this video.