USA Taekwondo's Kaitlyn Marie Reclusado Secures First Team USA Medal, Gold
by Brendan Rourke
SANTIAGO, Chile — Team USA started the Pan American Games Santiago 2023 with a huge statement, securing its first gold medal — and first medal overall — during the morning sports session on Oct. 21.
USA Taekwondo’s Kaitlyn Marie Reclusado secured the hardware in women’s individual poomsae after dominating her finals opponent, Maria Alejandra Luna Higueros, who competed as an independent athlete.
After each athlete performed their choreographed technical taekwondo moves toward a row of judges, Reclusado was awarded a score of 7.830 — 0.480 more than her opponent. In poomsae, this margin of victory is substantial and would meet the definition of a “blowout” in other sports.
“It’s still unreal,” she said after taking a moment to collect her emotions. “At the same time, I’m so glad to be the start of something that’s going to be great.
“I know that Team USA is going to win a lot of gold (in Santiago).”
A native of Daly City, California, Reclusado was drawn to poomsae early in her taekwondo career. Her discipline favors art and technique over the traditional sparring fans might view during an Olympic Games. It is a showcase of precision, accuracy and mental focus.
“I like the dynamics of it,” she explained referring to poomsae. “Even though sparring is very strategic, to poomsae, there is an art. There is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.
“And I think whoever trains harder, it shows on the mat.”
A two-time US National Champion, Reclusado is in her second year at Princeton University, where she hopes to earn her degree while still competing for Team USA.
Reclusado will team up with fellow poomsae athlete, Anthony Shun Kei Do, for the mixed poomsae pairs event. USA Taekwondo sparring athletes (Kyorugi) are competing through Oct. 24 in their respective weight classes. Fans can watch all taekwondo events here.
Kaitlyn Reclusado in Santiago