Sophia Oceguera kicked her way through Costa Rica.
"They did like this thing where you got to run around with the flag," Sophia said. "That was pretty cool."
The 13 year old tae kwon do black belt recently performed at the Pan Am Games for Team USA. She dominated all four matches she competed in to win the gold medal.
"It was amazing," Sophia's mom, Tara Oceguera, said. "It was like all the hard work that she has put in, just seeing her win gold and being on the podium."
To accomplish her supremacy in the 41-44 kilogram weight class, she trains five days a week and sometimes more, including at another high performance training center in Oakland.
"Yeah, I have trained tens of thousands of kids, hundreds of athletes, and maybe about a half dozen national team members over the years and she is shining more than all of them to tell you the truth," Sophia's coach David Garmany, a six-degree black belt with 38 years of Tae kwon do experience and owner of Discovery Martial Arts, said.
"When you are working with Sophie, you are very aware you are being kicked by Sophie. I'm a large 260 pound man and she moves me around the room with no problem at all," says training partner Joseph Rivera, also a black belt in taekwondo.
One black eye to their Costa Rican trip, they were robbed of their money, passports, phones, backpacks and more when someone broke into their car.
But they didn't get Sophie's gold medal. Still, the Oceguera's had to stay in Costa Rica another three days to get new passports and finally come home. Despite all that, they say the experience and Sophie's gold was well worth it.
"Hopefully one day we will see her in the Olympics," Tara said.
A fundraiser to help raise $4,000 to help offset the family's losses suffered on the trip will take place at Discovery Martial Arts in Stockton.
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