Athlete’s Olympic journey winds through Pendleton
PENDLETON — To help with his plan to represent Team USA in Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Nolan Miles is spending some preparation time in Pendleton.
Miles, an 18-year-old from Fishers, is one of the tops in his age group and weight class in the nation in tae kwon do. He is ranked No. 2 in the Senior Division for the minus-68kg class.
Home from the Team USA training site in Colorado Springs, Colorado, because of an injury, Miles had been going out of state to keep in shape.
That stopped when he realized he could get the training he needed at Community Sports and Wellness in Pendleton. It offered the coaching and facility for someone with his unique martial arts skills.
“That’s kind of life-changing for me,” Miles said of having a facility so close to home. “The first place I was going to was all the way in Houston, Texas. My parents have always been seeking out the best places for me. To find something right where I live has been great, really nice.”
Miles had gone from Texas, to Ohio and to Virginia to get workouts in with coaches.
His family and the family of Pendleton’s Joe Wrin knew each other from when Wrin’s daughter, Kate, a Pendleton Heights High School grad, was competing in some of the same events as Miles.
Wrin had a martial arts training business in town, but the pandemic led to shutting it down.
Wrin was the heavyweight division Indiana state champion for six years in a row as an adult. He was the AAU national champion in 2016 and silver medalist in 2017. He is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer.
He is now part of the Community Sports and Wellness team. His training classes are now geared more toward competitive fighting and adults (high school- age and older) seeking better ways to defend themselves.
It’s just what Miles needed, and when he elected to go home to rehabilitate an injured hand, Wrin and the local fitness facility were a perfect fit.
“I had my own (Martial Arts) school here in Pendleton for a few years and it was going extremely well; then the pandemic hit,” Wrin said. “It’s hard to kick people from six feet away.
“We decided to close that down, but during that time I was coaching my two oldest children that were in the same level of events that Nolan is in. Through doing that I connected with this other family from Indiana.”
Miles returned to Colorado earlier this month and was hopeful, if his injured hand has healed well enough, he would be chosen to compete in a tournament in Belgium. Either way, he will continue to train, whether in Colorado or in Pendleton, to be part of Team USA.
“There are a lot of other martial arts schools and tae kwon do schools in Hamilton County they could have chosen from, but I think we had the good connection in that competitive arena,” Wrin said.
Wrin trains both Nolan and his 14-year-old brother, Holden Miles, who is also among the tops in the nation in the Cadet Division, minus-57kg class.
“The family reached out and asked me to train their boys, Nolan specifically to get ready for Olympic trials,” Wrin said. “It’s been great. It’s a different type of tae kwon do (geared more on fighting/sparring).”
Wrin Martial Arts and Fitness was open for three years and was geared more for all ages, including teaching martial arts skills to pre-school and grade school youngsters.
The current program, Wrin Martial Arts at Community Sports and Wellness, focuses on high school-age and older adults.
“The (new) gym is focused on the sparring world and getting athletes ready to fight. It’s 100% focused on fighting,” Wrin said.
A teenager, Nolan Miles has already built quite a list of accomplishments in a short period of time.
Prior to the pandemic and competing in the Junior Division, he placed second at the Junior Grand Slam, an event with the top 10 to 15 players in the country. He placed third at the U.S. Open.
In the Senior Division Grand Slam, competing against athletes in their mid-20s and 30s, he placed third.
“I knew, after the pandemic, Master Wrin (did not have his martial arts school), but I didn’t know Master Wrin had started up a new school,” Nolan said. “I thought the facility was beautiful and the space we have with the mirrors; that definitely reminded me of all the other schools I trained at. That’s exactly how they looked.”
It has everything he needs when he is not working out at the Olympic Training Center, he said.
“The mats were nice and clean. All the equipment is all the stuff you could possibly need to train for this sport,” Nolan said. “Everybody there is super nice in that class, too.”
Miles said during his training he works on balance, quickness moves and learning to make adjustments. He said there are a lot of footwork drills and focus on hip strength so he can lift his leg above his head and have good leg control and flexibility.
He added, “The bulk of it is tactical stuff. It’s a very intelligence-based game. You train, get the ability to do stuff, but most importantly is executing it and seeing it in the game.”
Wrin said he’s glad to have elite athletes such as Nolan and Holden to coach in his hometown facility.
“It’s absolutely huge (to have that type of athlete here) and it just elevates our entire program,” Wrin said. “The adults, teenagers I’ve gotten in here, everyone was in kind of shock when they watch Nolan work out and train. He gives every last cent of energy he has. It inspires me to be a better coach, and it inspires my other fighters to get better at their craft, also. It’s a great honor.”
Nolan said he is hoping that conversation will come naming him as a member of the Team USA group that will compete in the 2024 Olympics.
“I’m just looking to get that official, contract I guess, to be part of the (Olympic) team and just looking forward to working with them and figuring out this game,” Nolan said of his tae kwon do goals. “I’m focusing on that first before I can start thinking about the Olympics. That’s the icing on the cake, to compete internationally.
‘I think I’m extremely close …. I’ve received a lot of good feedback,
but there hasn’t been anything official said yet.”