Georgia Southern student and local taekwondo instructor Travis Cook has never been one to draw attention to himself. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy victory.
The 24-year-old St. Mary’s native picked up his third world championship in weapons last month at the ATA Taekwondo World Championships in Little Rock, Ark.
It was his first world title since claiming back-to-back championships in 2002 and ‘03.
“I like winning but not the recognition that comes with it,” said Cook, who competed in the ages 18-29 fourth and fifth-degree black belt division. He teaches at Eddie Lott’s ATA Blackbelt Academy on Northside Drive in Statesboro.
Cook has been training for nearly 14 years and instructing for almost as long.
He was drawn to the sport after watching Karate Kid movies, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and martial artist Bruce Lee while growing up.
“I love everything about taekwondo from competition to training to teaching,” Cook said. “I love working with kids because taekwondo played a huge role in my upbringing and teaching me structure and responsibility.”
He was the top-seed heading into this year’s world championships and was inexplicably and uncharacteristically nervous despite having competed in at least 135 tournaments. Cook said this world championship was the most special of the three, probably because the competition has gotten tougher as he’s gotten older.
“I was really excited because it’d been so long since I’d won,” he said.
Cook, who aspires to open his own taekwondo studio one day, celebrated the victory with his parents and close friends, who made the trip to Arkansas to cheer him on.
Others from Lott’s ATA Blackbelt Academy who performed well at the world championships were: students Lucretia King (second in forms and sparring) and Ridge Davis (competitor’s trophy) and instructors Jason Torrence (third in sparring) and Mandy Hart (awesome black belt experience). Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.