Mims sets sights on being world’s best taekwondo fighter
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Determination is defined as the power to make choices and set goals and to act upon them firmly in spite of opposition or difficulty.Sundar Mims defines that determination.Mims, an 18-year-old Carbondale resident, is determined to be an Olympic and world taekwondo champion and has based his life around achieving that goal.Growing up in central California, Mims began taekwondo when he was 10 years old, commuting with his friend one and a half hours each way to go to class. Mims credits his father and action heroes for getting him into it.”My father was a black belt and was in the military. I have always admired him as a martial arts-military guy since I was a little kid,” Mims said. “Plus I grew up watching Spiderman and the (Teenage Mutant) Ninja Turtles. So I was always into it.”
When he was only 13 years old, Mims moved out of his parents’ house to live with his master. After going to school seven hours a day, he would come home and train for another seven.”I decided I wanted to make martial arts my passion and what I wanted to make my career out of,” he said. “So I set a goal to be an Olympic and world champion and ever since then I have been working toward that.”After winning the gold medal in the California Open, an annual taekwondo tournament with an average of 5,000 competitors, three years in a row, the tournament’s grand master asked Mims to study under him in Los Angeles. So, Mims, who was then 16, moved to L.A.”(The grand master) was an eighth-degree black belt, that’s pretty much the highest you can go,” Mims said. “I was honored and I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I can finally start working on my dreams.'”Two years later, Mims finished high school and decided to go to Colorado State University in Fort Collins to study physical therapy. On the way there, Mims stopped in Carbondale and, captivated by the valley’s beauty, decided to stay here.
Mims, who stands at 6-foot-3-inches and weighs in at 185, then enrolled as a full-time student at Colorado Rocky Mountain College, still working toward a physical therapy degree. He also got a full-time job as a physical therapy assistant at Midvalley Medical Center. And, of course, Mims continued his martial arts training. He found a new master in Doug Fuechsel, a former taekwondo team captain at the U.S. Olympic training center, and a new studio to train at PRO-TKD Martial Arts Center in Carbondale. It’s a place where Mims feels like he fits in.”We just connected really well together right off the bat,” Mims said of the relationship between him and Fuechsel. “He’s a really good guy, I really respect him and he’s a good master. He pushes me to pursue my goals.”Competing in the Castle Rock Extreme Challenge after only a short time with Fuechsel, Mims took the silver medal. In the event, he won his first two fights by knockout before losing a close fight with the U.S. National Heavyweight Champion. Not bad considering Mims is a middle weight.Mims, who owns a large collection of around 70 medals from tournament victories, will be traveling to Houston later this month to study under some of the best taekwondo fighters in the United States. The training will be intense, but is a necessary step towards his goal.
“That trip is going to provide him with a pretty clear picture of what he has to do and what it is going to be like,” said Fuechsel, who instructs Mims five days a week. “If he works hard, there is no reason why he can’t accomplish those goals.”After that, Mims’ most immediate goal is to qualify for nationals. There will be three regional tournaments in 2007 and Mims must finish in the top three of one of those competitions to do so. If he can do that, then he will fight for one of six spots on the U.S. National Taekwondo team. Fuechsel believes Mims’ goal of being an Olympic and world champion could take up to 12 years to achieve. “I’ve got a pretty good handle on the road that it takes to get (to the Olympic level) and it’s a tough one,” Fuechsel said. “But he has got the perfect body type and he’s got the heart and the desire. He’s got a lot of natural athleticism and he’s teachable.”Mims is hoping to spread up the process.”I plan to make 2008 or 2012 (Olympics). 2008 is really pushing it, but I know what I am capable of,” Mims said. “It’s a long road and there’s a lot of really, really good fighters out there, but I think I am capable of it and my master believes in me.”Outside of the regional tournaments, Mims will be traveling around the country and training under different masters in hopes of attaining more experience and more knowledge. Keeping his focus on his goals, Mims won’t stop until his dream is complete.
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