Paige McPherson is first U.S. Olympic taekwondo qualifier

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Paige McPherson became the first taekwondo athlete and the 30th overall to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team for Tokyo.

McPherson, a 2012 Olympic 67kg bronze medalist, qualified via her international ranking — sixth in her weight class — at the end of 2019. She was the only American ranked high enough to qualify via that route in any division.

The rest will vie for spots at a Pan American qualifier in March in Costa Rica.

McPherson, who was adopted at four days old and raised in Sturgis, S.D., earned her London bronze medal one year after debuting at the world championships and bowing out in the quarterfinals.

Since London, McPherson earned world silver and bronze medals, her first Grand Prix title and, this past year, a Grand Prix Final bronze.

In Rio, McPherson lost in the first round. The U.S. earned one taekwondo medal in Rio — Jackie Galloway‘s bronze — for its smallest output since it was added as a medal sport in 2000.

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MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics