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Pump Up The Jams: What's Team USA Listening To?


With the Olympics underway, we decided to start a feature called Pump Up the Jams. That's where we check in with members of Team USA in Rio to find out what's playing in their headphones during training, practice and competition. The first Olympian to tell us what music gets her going is a member of the USA women's taekwondo team. This is her second Olympics.

PAIGE MCPHERSON: Hi. My name is Paige McPherson. I have the honor to represent Team USA and USA T, as in USA Taekwondo, and I am from Miami, Fla. I'm a huge music fan.


DRAKE: (Singing) I think I'd lie for you. I think I'd die for you, Jodeci "Cry For You."

MCPHERSON: Really any of the A-list top hits of hip-hop and R&B artists. That's usually the playlist that a lot of my teammates and I play during our taekwondo trainings. But when we actually go to a gym for our strength and conditioning, I really like to listen to more of the electronic-techno vibe (laughter) when I'm doing my cardio. My favorite electronic song would have to be "Trndsttr - Lucian Remix."


BLACK COAST: (Singing) Fire when the strobe hits you.

MCPHERSON: The beginning, you know, is kind of slow, but it ends up building up into this really big bass. It's very high energy. And I just love to listen to that type of beat, that type of rhythm when I'm running. So when I run fast, I can kind of keep up with the beat in the music at the same time (laughter).


BLACK COAST: (Singing) Bulletproof on another level ahead of the crew. Select never settles. It only gets better the more...

MCPHERSON: I love all types of genres, really, but there is actually one song that I really love the lyrics of it. And it's from Nicki Minaj, and it was an old song of hers called "Moment For Life." One of the rhymes is in this very moment, I'm king, in this very moment, I'm going to slay Goliath with a sling.


NICKI MINAJ: (Singing) In this very moment, I'm king. In this very moment, I slay Goliath with a sling. In this very moment I bring, put it on everything that I will retire with the ring.

MCPHERSON: In my type of sport, I am naturally a very short competitor. My height is 5'8, and the girl that I ended up fighting my very first fight - she was 6'5 (laughter). And it was such a hard fight, but it was a David-and-Goliath moment. I ended up beating her, but it was just such a drastic difference between us. But at the end of the day, you know, I went into the ring to win it all.


MINAJ: (Singing) 'Cause in this moment, I just feel so alive, alive, alive. I wish that I could have this moment for life.

SUAREZ: That was Paige Mcpherson. She returns to Olympic competition in Rio this year after winning a bronze medal in London in 2012. Her first taekwondo match is scheduled for Friday, August 19. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ray Suarez

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