NewsPositively Utah


Young martial artist making Utah proud at world stage

Posted at 10:11 PM, Apr 07, 2023

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — A 9-year-old in Utah is the only one representing the state at the Taekwondo World Championship in his division. An Indian boy using his passion for the sport to win competitions all over.

Aryan Hegde likes to do flips and kicks. He has been learning Taekwondo for the past few years and has been competing for the past two. Aryan has won state and district championships in different categories.

“I got a national champion this year,” Aryan said. “I am really happy about that. I got first place in extreme form, in that division.”

Extreme form is different than traditional rounds because the athletes design their own routine and get to show their personalities.

“Etreme is an opportunity for self-expression,” explained Aryan’s coach, Benjamin Booth, the chief instructor at Booth ATA Martial Arts in American Fork. “So this way, as they’re doing creative and extreme events, they get to write their own material. We’ll help out with that, but this gives them a chance to go out and show the world who they are.”

“We’re so proud of the medals he gets, and there isn’t enough space in our home,” said Apoorva Kangodu Ganapathy, Aryan’s dad.

Aryan's parents, Megha and Apoorva, are chess players from India and wanted him to follow suit. But they said he couldn’t sit still, and when he was 3 or 4 years old, it became apparent that he needed to channel that energy some other way. So, they enrolled him in Taekwondo lessons and haven’t looked back.

“It’s an inspiration which I even get from him. If I want to get motivated, I just come to the class. He does some stuff and I get motivated every day,” said Apoorva.

It's a sport that is more than just the actual movements, punches, and kicks, but about belief, respect and discipline — with Aryan’s parents championing him every step of the way.

“It makes me feel like I’m already a world champion,” said Aryan.

Aryan is preparing for two more competitions before the world championship in July. His family says they hope to make both his countries — India and America — proud.