High School Hero: Summerville's Nik Poland
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- Summerville is known as a football town with guys like John McKissick and AJ Green putting the city on the map, but it's an athlete in a very different sport who is putting Summerville on the globe.
Nik Poland doesn't do it just for kicks. Tae Kwon Do has become an everyday passion for the Summerville High School junior.
"Everyone at school is like, 'You do Tae Kwon Do?' I am like, 'Yeah.' So they are like, 'You must karate chop people then, right?'" Poland said. "I have to say, 'No, we don't karate chop or anything like that.' I explain to them it's not like UFC fighting, it's like fighting with your feet."
Poland lets his feet do the talking in tae kwon do. and he's gone toe-to-toe with the best in he world.
Just a few weeks ago, he entered his first competition outside of the United States. In Bolivia, Poland planned to face other junior-level competition. However, there was no one is his age bracket to fight, so Poland had to go against adults.
He made it to the championship match and won, defeating a member of the Bolivian national team.
"We were the only juniors. Everyone else were seniors, 20-to-25 or older. The next day we find out no juniors were coming, so we fought seniors," Poland said. "I was like, 'Oh god, seniors!' in a national tournament. I didn't feel great about it at first, but I did pretty good."
Pretty good may be an understatement.
That win boosted Poland's confidence as he gets ready for the U.S. Championships in Las Vegas in February. That is where Poland will begin earning points that can earn him a possible shot with the U.S. Olympic Team in 2016 or 2020.
"I always wanted to do it. Now I feel like I have a good chance of doing it," he said. "I beat someone on the Bolivian national team. It will be pretty awesome because I will be at the top of the USA."