CSA Highlight: Jorge & Jezrael Pelaez
To say Taekwondo runs in the Pelaez family is an understatement. Jezrael Pelaez, currently a second grade student at the Christina Seix Academy, comes from a long line of Taekwondo athletes. His father, Jorge Pelaez, was on Ecuador’s national Taekwondo team from 1998 to 2002. His step-mother, Elena Pelaez, was also on Ecuador’s national team, ranking as high as #6 in the world.
Although early in his own athletic career, Jezrael is continuing his family’s legacy of success. Just this past year, Jezrael won the gold medal in New Jersey’s 2018 State Taekwondo tournament. He then traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah and won the bronze medal at the 2018 USA National Taekwondo Tournament.
Eager to learn more about his family’s success and connection to Taekwondo, I sat down to talk with Jezrael’s father.
“Taekwondo is a part of our life. It’s not just a sport or a business,” Mr. Pelaez stated. Showing an interest and a commitment early on in life, Mr. Pelaez began practicing Taekwondo at the age of nine. “I’ve always loved the martial art. It’s very dynamic and fast-paced.”
The sport allowed Mr. & Mrs. Pelaez to travel across the world to compete, from Venezuela to Japan. And after settling down in Trenton, New Jersey, the couple opened their own Taekwondo gym, Destiny Olympic. “We worked really hard to get the gym up and running. And it was worth it because we always wanted to give other children the opportunity to learn Taekwondo.”
Acknowledging that the sport has impacted his life professionally, Mr. Pelaez also emphasized how Taekwondo has impacted his life personally. “Through the sport, I became more focused and disciplined. And although we’re teaching Taekwondo at Destiny Olympic, we’re really teaching children discipline, dedication, and hard-work.”
The discipline that Mr. Pelaez spoke about was apparent within Jezrael, as he waited patiently and respectfully while I talked with his father. This discipline has also been a key ingredient for Jezrael’s early success in the sport. Mr. Pelaez noted that Jezrael typically practices five days a week. And he even practiced six days a week during the month before his State Championship victory.
Beaming with pride, Mr. Pelaez stated, “It’s great seeing my son’s dedication and success. He really loves the sport and I can tell he wants to continue getting better.”
The Pelaez’s family success has not gone unnoticed either. Following their success at the 2018 US National Taekwondo Championships, the Pelaez family received a proclamation from both the Hamilton, New Jersey mayor and the the Ecuadorian Secretary Counsel in New York.
Hoping to continue exposing children to the martial art of Taekwondo, Mr. and Mrs. Pelaez are in the midst of organizing an official Taekwondo tournament here at CSA. The tournament will take place in the new Dow Athletic Center on December 1st, and it will be the first official Taekwondo tournament to be hosted in Trenton in the last decade.
As the Pelaez family continues their work of building community and training a new generation in the sport of Taekwondo, they continue to make the CSA community proud.