Teen one step closer to becoming first taekwondo Olympian representing Hawaii

After winning a silver at nationals in July, Lesili Bertelsen says he's now off to team trials!
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 6:47 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 29, 2023 at 2:04 AM HST
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KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lesili “Sili” Bertelsen, 14 gears up for the biggest fight of his life – so far.

“I feel happy because my whole life, I’ve been doing tournaments, but I never really got any medals,” said Bertelsen, with Kiffmann’s Maui Elite Taekwondo Center.

Sili started with Kiffmann’s Maui Elite Taekwondo Center when he was seven years old. He has been training almost every day for seven years now. He says that commitment helped him win a silver medal at this year’s Taekwondo National Championships in Florida.

“Nationals was awesome. My goal for him this year was just to get that first match done, just to win that first match, and then when he won that first match, I already had a feeling, and watching his other competitors, I just kind of knew,” said his coach Master Miles Kiffmann.

“I was watching the whole time screaming and cheering for him,” said Sili’s mom Krystle. “It was great.”

Winning silver at Nationals qualified him for Team Trials. He now has an exceptional chance of becoming a National Team member, where he would represent the United States of America – Hawaii – and course Maui – getting one step closer to his ultimate goal.

“To maybe fight in the Olympics,” Sili said.

If he does, he will become the first Taekwondo Olympian to represent Hawaii.

“Really exceptional, perfect body type for the sport. It’s only gonna get better from here,” said Kiffmann. “He’s here every day. So, he’s grinding every day. Performance is always there. And now I see a lot more creativity, which is really cool. I always like to look for that, especially in martial arts.”

Sili and Master Miles leaves for Des Moines, Iowa Friday evening. His first match at Team Trials is on Tuesday.

However, Sili’s travel fund is nearly depleted.

So, the Kiffmanns are raising money to help make his dreams come true.

If you would like to help Sili reach his dreams, click here.

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