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Bayside taekwondo student earns spot on AAU national women’s heavyweight team

Aug. 22, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

New York Black Belt Center of Bayside student Alexa Solomon was recently named to the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) national women’s heavyweight taekwondo team following success in multiple national tournaments. Solomon earned a medal during the National Championships in Fort Lauderdale, FL, before winning the team trial tournament in Iowa.

For Solomon, 18, a Bayside native, this achievement was many years in the making. She had been a taekwondo student at the New York Black Belt Center under Master Joseph Lupo Jr. since she was 5 years old, when she first fell in love with the sport. What made this achievement more impressive for Solomon was the fact that she accomplished this shortly after going about a year-and-a-half unable to train due to two torn ACLs and a left meniscus tear.

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Joseph Lupo Jr. and Alexa Solomon. Photo courtesy of New York Black Belt Center

“[Qualifying for and competing in these tournaments] definitely wasn’t easy,” Solomon said. “I came back stronger than ever and trained harder every day to get to that moment. It was definitely not easy.”

To not only get back to competing, but also excelling, has made all that hard work worth it for Solomon. Even after this accomplishment, she’s setting her eyes on the next steps.

“It was definitely one of my biggest moments,” Solomon said. “One promise I made to a very important person was to Master Joe’s father. I told him that I wanted to be in the Olympics. From that day, when I was 6 years old, I’ve always kept that promise.”

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Lupo and Solomon hug after her victory at the Iowa taekwondo tournament. Photo courtesy of New York Black Belt Center

Solomon said she could have never accomplished what she has in taekwondo without the help, support and guidance from Master Joe, the other kids at New York Black Belt Center and her parents.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for Alexa,” Lupo said. “It’s a beautiful comeback story. For me, as a coach, it’s a crowning achievement to put one of my original students on a national team. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication. As a coach, it’s a beautiful thing to see what we put in come back through our students. She deserves all the credit. She earned it.”

“If you want to do something, do it,” Solomon said. “Nothing in life is stopping you but yourself. You have to get through yourself to get through your opponent. I took all of the negative energy that I had in life and put it all out on that mat.”

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