These kids could be fighting for home-town gold if Chicago lands the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Jacob Aquino and Arthur Kopilevich, both from Palatine, are Taekwondo phenoms -- and they’re just 12 and 11 years old.
“These guys are the best in the country, and they’re the best in the world,” team manager Skip Valle said.
Supporting Valle's claim: Last February, Kopilvich and Aquino, who train every day at Teamforce dojo in Palatine, were the youngest competitors ever to win gold medals in the 2009 U.S. Open Taekwondo Championships in Las Vegas.
They each fought their way through seven single-elimination rounds against fighters from 50 countries.
That impressive display helped earn Kopilvich and Aquino a place on the Amateur Athletic Union's first Taekwondo National Cadet Team. The butt-kicking duo are among only 22 fighters in the nation to be selected.
But that’s just the beginning, Valle said.
“There’s nobody in Illinois that can beat them, nobody in the country can beat them and out of 50 countries nobody can beat them” Valle said.
"These are the guys you're going to see in 2016 (Olympics).”
"If the Olympics are going to be in Chicago in 2016, I want to compete and get a gold medal," Kopilevich, who started training at 5-years-old, said.
"This is the most elite black belt fighting club, which is why I came here. When I'm on the floor and I knock (my opponent) out, I realize how good my potential is."
Full Coverage: Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid