The Camarillo High sophomore and international taekwondo superstar beat up three boys at once for three uninterrupted minutes to earn a second-degree black belt.
Nobody messes with Gigi.
Gil is one of the best youth fighters in the 101- pound division in the United States. She’s also ranked third in the world in taekwondo, a Korean martial art, for all girls under 18.
She’s battled grown women between the ages of 18 and 32 and regularly won.
To say that Gil’s passionate about the sport would be like calling New York City a quaint village.
“I love it,” the 15-year-old said. “I get to represent the U.S., first of all. It’s a bonus when you stand on a podium and listen to the national anthem and hear your teammates sing along with the song.”
Gil’s list of accomplishments stacks up nicely next to Bruce Lee’s resume.
She’s won eight gold medals at national taekwondo tournaments since she was 9, secured seven state crowns, been a four-time U.S. Open champion, earned multiple titles at the Pan American tournament, snagged third place at the world championships despite fighting with a broken foot last spring in Mexico, and she’s made the U.S. national team four times.
On Oct. 7, the Scorpion nabbed first place at the Pan American Games, a tournament featuring the best fighters in the Western Hemisphere.
In January, Gil will train and fight at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
She must cut weight and fight in a round robin tournament—a merciless survival of the fittest— for one spot on the Team USA roster.
In April the U.S. will take its best under-18 fighters to the world championship in Egypt.
Although she’s nursing a foot injury, Gil’s workout schedule is overwhelming.
On a typical weekday, Gil wakes up at 3 a.m. to travel to King’s Combat Sports in Chatsworth to train from 5 to 6 a.m.
She’ll drive home with her mom, shower and go to school. Gil then heads back to Kings for a night session from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. She trains for four hours on Saturdays.
“I go to school half asleep,” Gil admitted.
Despite her petite frame, Gil has to cut weight before tournaments. The most she’s had to lose is 17 pounds.
There are also random drug tests, where officials can knock on the door at any time, day or night. Gil recalled the story of a teammate who received two years probation for a positive marijuana test.
Gil has big goals: She wants to fight for the USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
There’s so much she’s accomplished, and so much more she wants to do.
“The key is not giving up,” Gil said. “There are times I don’t want to train and I don’t want to diet. There are breakdowns.
“You don’t want to let your country down. When the U.S. wins gold, that’s awesome.”
Gil uses her speed and resiliency to defeat opponents on the mat.
“I don’t like losing,” she said. “If I’m down, I don’t give up. I need to win.”
Sylvie Gil marvels at her daughter’s dedication to the sport.
“ She’s so athletically inclined,” the proud mother said. “I’m always in awe because it’s something I could never do.
“When she gets to the high level of competition, it’s mental at that point. You look at her face and she’s concentrating and focused on the mat just before she fights.”
When Gigi Gil recalls her best moment on the mat, it isn’t a win; it’s a loss.
During the 2010 world semifi nals, Gil trailed Croatia’s Ana Pavlovic by a score of 14-7. Despite fighting with a broken foot, Gil closed the gap to trail by a single point. Although 14-13 was the final margin, she learned something about herself that day.
“I gave it my all,” Gil said.
Despite her hectic life, school and family come first for the teenager.
She’s a solid student who gets A’s and B’s. Parents Tom and Sylvie won’t let Gil fight if she gets bad grades. She must complete her homework before trips. She even missed trick-or-treating on Halloween night because she had to study for a world history test.
Gil has one brother, Nicolas, 12, who started taekwondo at age 4. An eighth-grader at Las Colinas Middle School, Nicolas is involved with judo and wrestling.
The sophomore also enjoys hip-hop dancing and dreams of being a CIA undercover agent.
She enjoys going to the beach, shopping and attending concerts. She recently rocked out at an LMFAO show.
Gil is a special athlete, and she’s proof that greatness takes tons of hard work.
For Gigi, it’s all worth it.
“I don’t get to hang out with friends as much as I would like,” she said. “Instead of going to parties and being around a lot of people who are bad influences, it’s better to train.”