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Through my Taekwondo training I've learned how to defend myself, but as a Leadership student, I also received advanced lessons with traditional weapons. I never imagined that using something as simple as a Bo Staff could be so empowering! Although I hope I never have to defend myself against an attacker, I now have the confidence and ability to do so.
–Christina Morales, Brown Belt, 18 years old

From ATA World Volume 19, Number 3 Fall 2012

Cole Peterson was born in 2003, prematurely and with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and one intact nostril. He endured three surgeries his first year. He has had eight surgeries since birth.

In July 2011, Cole underwent bone graft surgery. Bone was harvested from his hip and inserted in his cleft palate; his nostril was also reconstructed. The transplant rejected, requiring a subsequent operation. Cole was not allowed to run, bike, swim, play Wii, or practice Taekwondo during recovery.

Cole resumed normal activity in October and prepared for the Chicago tournament. He took first place in Forms, Weapons, and Sparring but later contracted mononucleosis. Cole’s spleen swelled, and Taekwondo was again restricted for two months.

Once healthy, Cole practiced and competed. He earned Top Ten in Forms, Weapons, and Sparring, becoming three-time Ohio State Champ. To prepare Cole for Worlds, Mentor ATA instructors worked privately with him. Through positive teaching and endless encouragement, Cole was ready.

On June 19, Cole underwent oral surgery. The day after, Cole and his dad drove 14 hours to Arkansas.

At the Top Ten competition, Cole competed well in Forms and Weapons, but excelled in Sparring. He beat three talented boys, including two prior World Champs, to become World Champion in Sparring.

Cole is the epitome of ATA Strong. Through determination and perseverance, he fought hard to overcome medical procedures, sickness, and limited training time to win.

David and Christina Peterson
Mentor, Ohio