12-year-old girl follows dad into sport GLEN BURNIE

TRADING BALLET FOR TAE KWON DO

July 14, 1993|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Staff Writer

Like many other girls her age, Nichole Colley of Glen Burnie gracefully danced ballet, tap and jazz for almost eight years.

But unlike other girls, she gave it all up two years ago, to "be like dad" and take up tae kwon do.

"I wanted to try it because my dad used to fight," said Nichole, 12, a student at Lion Choi's Tae Kwon Do School in Glen Burnie who recently placed second at the Junior National Olympics.

"Ballet and all that other stuff just started getting in the way so I dropped it," she added. "I love tae kwon do."

Entering the gym with her brown hair tied back in a ponytail and wearing the traditional white (do bok) uniform, Nichole stopped at the door and bowed to her instructor, Grand Master Bok Sung Choi, a ninth-degree black belt working on his 10th degree and three-time Korean champion.

Nichole, a seventh-grader at St. Philip Neri school in Linthicum, practices four to five times a week -- Monday, Wednesday and Fridays with Master Choi for two hours, and sometimes Saturdays if she's not too tired. Tuesday and Thursdays, she trains with her dad at the Brooklyn Park Recreation Center, where she also helps him teach class.

"She's one of my best students," said Master Choi, who has more than 100 students. "She's training hard right now and if she keeps it up, she has a good chance at the Olympics some day."

A third-degree black belt, Percy E. Colley Jr. couldn't be more proud of his junior black belt daughter. Over the past two years, she has accumulated two trophies and 14 medals, most for first and second place -- so many that her mom bought a curio cabinet to display Nichole's achievements.

"She's the first black belt out of my five children, and hopefully someday, she will also fight at Madison Square Garden," said Mr. Colley, 52, now an instructor who won the World Championship title in 1971 at Madison Square Garden when he was still fighting. "I didn't think she would be the one who would follow in my footsteps. I thought it would be one of my sons.

"But I'm so proud and happy for her," he added. Of his five children, Nichole and her 7-year-old sister Amanda are the only ones who still practice tae kwon do. "Me and the whole family are behind her 100 percent to help her achieve whatever her dreams are."

And what are those dreams?

"I want to keep going to tournaments, get my black belt and reach the 10th degree like Master Choi," Nichole said. "And I want to own my own gym some day and win the Olympics.

"That's my dream."

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