Paige McPherson Comes Up Short In Bid For Second Olympic Taekwondo Medal

by Karen Price

Paige McPherson celebrates after defeating Nur Tatar during the Women's -67kg Taekwondo Quarterfinal on July 26, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.


Paige McPherson fell just shy of bringing home her second Olympic medal in taekwondo, but her fourth-place finish in the women’s 67 kg. class capped an impressive showing for the women of Team USA.
A day earlier, 18-year-old Anastasija Zolotic became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport with her victory at 57 kg.
McPherson, also known as “McFierce” was competing in her third Olympic Games and looking for her second medal. Now 30, McPherson won bronze in 2012 and finished 11th in Rio in 2016. Seeded fifth in Tokyo, she got through the round of 16 with an 8-5 win over Farida Azizova of Azerbaijan, then defeated Turkey’s Nur Tatar, the fourth seed, 3-1 in the quarterfinals. A 15-4 loss to No. 1 Matea Jelic of Croatia in the semifinal meant foiled McPherson’s hopes of making it to the gold-medal match and set up the bronze medal contest against Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba. 
McPherson, from Sturgis, South Dakota, took a 5-3 lead midway through the match but Wahba jumped out to an 11-5 lead and then a head shot made it 17-6. The gap was too great for McPherson to overcome.
Still, McPherson is the only U.S. woman ever to compete in taekwondo in three Olympic Games. She and Zolotic were the only two athletes to earn spots in Tokyo for Team USA, and Zolotic went on to make history. McPherson would have become the first U.S. woman to win multiple medals in taekwondo since it became an official Olympic sport in 2000.

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Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.