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Castros collect Jr. Olympic gold

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Castros collect Jr. Olympic gold

Siblings Jordan and Renee Castro show off their Junior Olympics gold medals, along with several others one over the course of the past year, at MVP Taekwondo in Manteca Friday.


POSTED July 18, 2009 2:06 a.m.
It wasn’t too long ago that Manteca-based MVP Taekwondo was a powerhouse in local sparring tournaments while churning out multiple national champions every year.

But the martial arts school is in rebuilding mode, and head instructor Dennis Hernandez Jr. is pinning his hopes on the talented Castro family.

Led by their father, Junior, a brown-belt instructor and sparring coach, Jordan and Renee Castro competed in their first-ever USA Taekwondo Junior Olympics June 30-July 5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas and returned home with more gold medals to add to their already-vast collection.

“It’s good to be back,” Hernandez said. “A lot of our top talent moved away, went off to college and the military or just moved on with their lives. We’ve got a new team now.

“We’re strong, but we’re up and coming. We went from an established team that everyone in the area — even the country — knew about to rebuilding. Now we have a strong foundation, and it’s good to see the fruits of your labor.”

Renee won her championship round easily, 7-0.

“It was actually really awesome,” she said. “We went all that way and won. For nationals, I would think that all the best would come out so it was a little surprising to me.”

Jordan won his lone match and was never fazed by the large crowd.

“It was like (sparring in front of) your family,” he said. “I didn’t even notice anyone.”

Hernandez said that stiffer competition will surely come next year as they continue to advance in rank.

The Castro siblings, both Joseph Widmer School students, have been competing for about a year.

Renee, 11, is an orange belt but qualified for Junior Olympics as a green belt. Jordan, 10, the national yellow-belt division champion in his age group, is currently a purple belt. They have combined for 15 medals, most of them gold, and a first-place trophy earned at various tournaments — including the Junior Olympic qualifiers in Los Angeles and San Jose — this year.

Hernandez regrets not being able to join his students in Texas but entrusted his coaching responsibilities to Junior.

“I’ve been grooming Junior as a coach for over a year now, and he’s really coming along,” Hernandez said. “I felt the confidence in him to go coach his kids. It was just something neat for them to experience as a family.”
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