NAPLES, Italy — Justin Faiferlick was able to experience the trip of a lifetime at the recent Summer World University Games.
The Fort Dodge resident and head instructor at Faiferlick Martial Arts was the taekwondo team manager for the United States over the 12-day event.
AJ Munoz earned gold and Edward Jeong claimed silver in Individual Poomsae, with the women’s taekwondo sparring team of Makayla Gorka, Cheyenne Lewis, Lizette Salas and Logan Weber earning bronze.
Team USA came away with 53 total medals, including 21 golds and 17 silvers.
“The atmosphere in the World Games competition is just like the Olympics,” Faiferlick said. “Same incredible opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies, and elite level international competitors.
“The athletes and coaches stayed in the Athletes Village, which made training and meals efficient. Competition was tough and the athletes were proud to represent their country.”
Faiferlick, a 1987 graduate of St. Edmond, is the head men’s and women’s taekwondo coach at Iowa Central and the head coach for the U.S. Air Force men’s and women’s programs. He has nearly four decades worth of experience in the sport.
“I took away some very special memories with athletes that wanted to be competing for their country and that worked very hard,” Faiferlick said. “The actual event is like no other event outside the Olympics. The staff and athletes were 100-percent focused with absolutely no drama and no problems.
“This was also the most successful Games for Team USA ever.”
Six male categories and six female categories were held in kyorugi (sparring) and poomsae (forms) for individuals, teams and mixed teams. The U.S. taekwondo team was led by Dan Chuang with Sherri Lashomb, Huy Nguyen, Haksung Kim, Richard Lee, Dongyoung Kim, Toby Oliver and Adrian Zambrano also serving as coaches and doctors.
“We held a Team Trials event earlier this year (to determine qualifiers),” Faiferlick said. “The athletes had to compete for just a one-athlete-per-weight division for both males and females. We had 12 sparring athletes and six poomsae. The individuals were already competing in USA Taekwondo Nationals, and we started training as soon as each one arrived.”
While busy with competitions and training, Faiferlick did take in some of the sights in Italy.
“We planned a couple of team events including a tour of Naples to some historic places including a castle,” he said. “We also toured the Palace in Caserta. Of course, we had to indulge in a true Italian restaurant, enjoying some pizza. But, I still like our pizza better.”
Over 9,000 athletes and staff from over 160 countries were represented at the 30th Universiade. The U.S. was the second largest delegation with 420 participants competing in 18 sports.
The next games will be held in Chengdu, China. Faiferlick noted that “the way the staff and leadership had immediate and complimentary styles made for an incredible team. I believe because of this, Team USA will want us all back.”