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51

GLOBAL MEMBERSHIP

EUROPE Albania Andorra Armenia Austria Azerbaijan Belarus Belgium Bosnia & Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Georgia Germany Great Britain Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy

World Taekwondo has 210 Member National Associations worldwide. The “+1” stands for refugees.

45 PAN AMERICA Antigua & Barbuda Argentina Aruba Bahamas Barbados Belize Bermuda Bolivia Brazil British Virgin Islands Canada Cayman Islands Chile Colombia Costa Rica Dominican Republic Cuba Dominica Ecuador El Salvador French Guiana Grenada Guadeloupe

Guatemala Guyana Haiti Honduras Jamaica Martinique Mexico Curacao Nicaragua Panama Paraguay Peru Puerto Rico St. Lucia St. Kitts & Nevis Surinam St. Vincent & the Grenadines Trinidad and Tobago Uruguay USA Virgin Islands Venezuela

52 AFRICA

Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Cape Verde Central African Republic Chad Comoros Cote d’Ivoire Congo Djibouti D.R. of the Congo Egypt Equatorial Guinea Eswatini Ethiopia Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya Lesotho

Liberia Libya Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Niger Nigeria Rwanda Sao Tome & Principe Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa Sudan South Sudan Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda Zimbabwe Zambia

Kosovo Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Faroe Islands Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Malta Moldova Monaco Montenegro The Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia San Marino Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey Ukraine

43 19

OCEANIA American Samoa Australia Cook Islands Fiji French Polynesia Guam Kiribati Marshall Islands Micronesia Nauru

New Caledonia New Zealand Palau Papua New Guinea Samoa Solomon Islands Tonga Tuvalu Vanuatu

ASIA Afghanistan Bahrain Bangladesh Bhutan Brunei Cambodia China Chinese Taipei Hong Kong India Indonesia Iran Iraq Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Korea Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos Lebanon Macao

Malaysia Mongolia Myanmar Nepal Oman Pakistan Palestine Philippines Qatar Saudi Arabia Singapore Sri Lanka Syria Tajikistan Thailand Timor-Leste Turkmenistan United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Vietnam Yemen


PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

Dear members and friends of the World Taekwondo family, It is with great excitement that together we embark upon a new Olympic year, and our first Paralympic year. The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of sport. Our top athletes’ tickets to Tokyo are already confirmed via rankings. Other athletes’ track to Tokyo will lead them through Continental Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Tournaments taking place between February and April. Tokyo 2020 marks taekwondo’s sixth consecutive Olympic Games, following our debut at Sydney in 2000. That makes this year the 20th anniversary of our Olympic inclusion. Moreover, it will be the first time that taekwondo has been included in the Paralympic Games. We are one of just a handful of sports represented at both the Olympics and the Paralympics. This reflects our total commitment to be the most inclusive and accessible combat sport. Of course, the taekwondo year is not just about the Olympics. In May, Herning, Denmark will host the 2020 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, taking this inclusive discipline from strength to strength. The Beach Championships, which prove taekwondo is a flexible and dynamic sport that can be practised anywhere, anytime, by anyone, will be held in August. In October, Sofia, Bulgaria will stage the World Taekwondo Junior Championships before Wuxi, China, hosts the World Taekwondo World Cup Poomsae Championships and World Cup Team Championships in the same month. In November, the Cancun 2020 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final will be held, and in December, the Wuxi 2020 World Taekwondo Grand Slam Champions Series will kick off. We will continue to work with our Member National Associations to strengthen them in the year ahead. And we will continue to ensure that our athletes have the best opportunities, the best welfare and the best protection as they fight in a clean, fair and safe sport. However, taekwondo is about more than competition. In recent years, we have leveraged the power of sport to bring joy and inspiration to those who need it most. Through World Taekwondo Cares, through the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation and through our agreements with other International Federations we will continue to empower refugees and displaced people around the world. We will also continue to promote gender equality among our athletes, our referees and our leadership. In the latter regard, I am pleased to say that in 2019 we named our first female vice president. Building on the commitments made at our Council meeting in Moscow in 2019, we will prioritize transparent governance and ensure that no discrimination of any kind exists within World Taekwondo. There is a much to do and much to look forward to in 2020. What keeps us motivated, united and excited on this great journey is that despite our many past achievements, we all know we have enormous future potential that is still to be realised. I look forward to working with all of you to make this Olympic year progressive, fruitful - and fun!

Chungwon Choue President, World Taekwondo


Official Publication of World Taekwondo 107

2020

TABLE OF CONTENTS 2

World Taekwondo Global Membership

4

President’s Message

PART 1: COMPETITIONS

PART 2: AROUND WT 76

In Historic First, Taekwondo Gladiators Honored in Colosseum

80

WT Demo Team: Italian Tour 2019 Photo Gallery

88

Chiba 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix

94

Athlete in Focus: Magda Wiet Henin (France)

8

2020: 20 Years of Olympic Taekwondo

10

Taekwondo Mixed Team Event Joins 2022 Youth Olympic Games

96

Athlete in Focus: Mirhashem Hosseini (Iran)

12

Expect the Unexpected: Antalya 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships

98

Athlete in Focus: Hatice Kubra Ilgun (Turkey)

18

Athlete in Focus: Shoko Ota (Japan)

100

Chiba Mayor Earns 6th Dan Black Belt

19

WT, Taekwondo Europe to Focus on Education and Development

100

Tokyo 2020 Test Event in Chiba Goes According to Plan

19

Para Taekwondo on Target to Inspire at Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games

20

Para Taekwondo Heading to Paris

110

Athlete in Focus: Ruth Gbagbi (Cote d’Ivoire)

21

Athlete in Focus: Lisa Gjessing (Denmark)

112

Athlete in Focus: Shuai Zhao (China)

22

Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships

114

Athlete in Focus: Saleh Elsharabaty (Jordan)

27

4 New Athletes Elected to WT Athletes’ Committee

116

Athlete in Focus: Jingyu Wu (China)

35

Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships Win Top Honor

118

Athlete in Focus: Christian McNeish (Great Britain)

44

Athlete in Focus: Bradly Sinden (Great Britain)

119

WT Demo Team Perform ‘Red Rose of the Balkans’

45

Choue Meets Refugee Team in Manchester on Eve of Battle

120

Moscow 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final

46

Athlete in Focus: Jae-Young Sim (Korea)

126

Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade

47

Athlete in Focus: Simone Alessio (Italy)

128

Lima 2019 Pan American Games

48

IOC President Graces World Championships

130

Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships

51

WT Flag Passes from Manchester 2019 to Wuxi 2021

137

Athlete in Focus: Waranya Talatngoen (Thailand)

52

WT S-class International Kyorugi and Poomsae Referees

138

Athlete in Focus: Zafabek Karimov (Uzbekistan)

54

Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships Photo Gallery

139

Athlete in Focus: Ava Lee (USA)

58

Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships Medal Tables

140

Kicking Kids Tell Tashkent: ‘Taekwondo is for All’

60

Roma 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix

142

Wuxi 2019 WT World Cup Poomsae Championships

67

WT President Choue Meets CONI President Malago in Rome

148

Wuxi 2019 WT World Cup Team Championships

68

Poomsae Makes Grand Prix Debut at Roma 2019

154

Sahl Hasheesh 2019 World Taekwondo Beach Championships

71

Athlete in Focus: Da-Bin Lee (Korea)

72

Athlete in Focus: Ruslan Zhaparov (Kazakhstan)

102

Sofia 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix

178

2019 WT Gala Awards

186

WT Council Meeting

188

General Assembly 2019 Sets Sights on Governance Upgrades

192

Conference Gives Guidance on Global Best Practices

194

WT Extraordinary Council Meeting

196

Council News

198

MNA News

200

Iran Celebrates International Taekwondo Day

201

Faroe Islands joins World Taekwondo

201

WT Hosts 1st Workshop with CU Presidents

202

Visits by Ethiopia, Hong Kong

232

WT and THF Get to Grips with International Judo Federation

203

Guinea-Bissau Scouts Taekwondo Talent ahead of 2022 Youth Olympics

232

Hockey and Taekwondo Offer Sport, Hope to Refugees

203

WT Head Asked to Form Small States Federation by San Marino Officials

233

WT, THF and Muaythai to Empower Refugees, Migrant Youth

204

CISM Salutes Taekwondo Troops

233

Taekwondo Joins Hands with Sambo

204

WT Marches in Lock Step with CISM

234

Taekwondo, Wrestling ‘Aspire 2gether for Peace’ at Azraq Refugee Camp

205

Taekwondo Deploys Major Presence at World Military Games

238

7 Taekwondo Players on Track for Tokyo as 2020 IOC Refugee Team Shapes up

206

WT Education

240

Azraq Center Produces 9th Refugee Black Belt

207

Readying Referees for Tokyo 2020

241

Chair of China Huamin Charity Foundation Awarded Honorary 7th Dan Black Belt

208

25th Anniversary of Taekwondo’s Olympic Adoption Celebrated

242

Taekwondo in Central Role at 1st DMZ Peace Festival

210

WT, ITF and IOC Gather to Celebrate a Quarter Century of Olympic Taekwondo

243

Taekwondo the Highlight at 2019 GCS International Convention

214

Boards Smash, Hands Clap at United Nations

244

WT Chief Takes Center Stage at Peace and Sport Forum 2019

216

Taekwondo Hits the Streets

245

Choue Details Cross-Sport Collaboration for Refugees

218

WT Head Awarded Australian Honor

245

World Taekwondo Pledges Commitment to Refugees at First-Ever Global Refugee Forum

219

Choue Talks up THF Mission at United Through Sports Conference

246

220

WT Adds Momentum to Sustainability Initiatives

WT Cares Allies with Asia Development Foundation on Nepal Projects to Assist Vulnerable Populations

221

IOC, Dow Award WT for Sustainability Commitment

247

Nepal Taekwondo Academy Named WT Regional Training Center

222

Great Night for Taekwondo

247

ADF Donates US$90,000 to WT

PART 3: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

163

Arab Taekwondo Union’s 1st Female Vice President Focuses Energy on Empowering Women, Anti-Bullying

224

WT Boosts Olympic Broadcasting Services and Olympic Channel Cooperation

248

WT Kicks off Taekwondo Cares Project in Cambodia with ADF Funds

73

Respect Rewarded: Zhaparov, Cho Win Special Recognition

164

Wuxi 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Slam Champions Series

226

Booyoung Delivers Dreams with WT

248

WT Cares Empowers Sri Lankan Street Children

74

Athlete in Focus: Elizaveta Ryadninskaya (Russia)

172

World Taekwondo Continental Union Championships

230

World Taekwondo Continental Union Presidents’ Messages

249

Event Calendar 2020


2020: 20 Years of Olympic Taekwondo From Sydney to Tokyo, taekwondo has evolved, innovated and improved

SYDNEY 2000

8

ATHENS 2004

BEIJING 2008

fter exploding onto the global stage at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games as a demonstration sport, taekwondo got the thumbs up at the 103rd IOC Session in Paris in 1994, becoming an official Olympic medal sport. Taekwondo first competed as a medal sport at Sydney 2000 across four weight classes each for men and women. Since then, taekwondo has maintained its status in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016. Taekwondo will appear in both Tokyo 2020 - where para taekwondo will make its Paralympic debut - and Paris 2024. Olympic taekwondo has not stood still. Over the last 20 years, WT has evolved rules and regulations, while innovating new technologies that place taekwondo on the cutting edge of global sport, earning it an unofficial nickname - “techkwondo.” To ensure fairness and transparency,

LONDON 2012

a Protector and Scoring System (PSS), in which electronic impact sensors were added to the athletes’ trunk protectors, was adopted in London 2012. When impact is made with correct parts of the foot, points flash up on the scoreboard wirelessly. The PSS obviates human error in judging and makes scores instantly visible to the crowd in real time. A system of three corner judges and Instant Video Replays (IVRs) was also instituted in London 2012, doubling down on fairness. In Rio 2016, the PSS was extended to the head protectors, and the mats were made octagonal rather than square, requiring athletes to use livelier footwork. WT has also reduced the length of rounds and mat sizes - changes that force athletes to fight from the get-go, maximizing action. The addition of extra points for the most difficult techniques - such as spin-

RIO 2016

ning kicks and head kicks - ensure that taekwondo’s full technical repertoire remains in play, and make the game a stunning spectacle of athleticism. Tactically, they make it possible for an athlete who is behind to win even in the final second of the final round, ensuring constant combat from the first second of a match to the last. Innovations will continue at the 2020 Games. A 4D camera rig will be used for the first time, enabling extraordinary, video game-style visuals, and removing any possible blind spots for IVR judges. Stylish new uniforms, giving athletes a more svelte, streamlined look, will also make their debut in Tokyo. A mixed-gender team competition - a highly exciting format - will be showcased between the individual matches for the first time. And of course, the sport will make its Paralympic debut.

TOKYO 2020

9


Taekwondo Mixed Team Event Joins 2022 Youth Olympic Games

T

he quota for taekwondo athletes has been increased from 100 to 120 players at the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal, and a mixed-team event will be added to the competition for the first time ever. In addition to five individual weight categories for both male and female athletes, the mixed-team competition will be contested in Dakar. The last Youth Olympic Games, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, had only five individual weight categories. The good news about Dakar 2022 was conveyed to WT in a letter from IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper, referencing a Dec. 3, 2019, decision made on the matter by the IOC Executive Board. That decision was reached based on WT requests and recommendations from the Olympic Program Commission, the letter explained, in “alignment with youth development pathways, overall gender equality, innovation and understandability and credibility” of the events. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a mixed-team showcase will take place during the taekwondo competition. “We are extremely gratified by the IOC decision, which fortifies our ambition to promote team taekwondo, a highly entertaining format of our sport,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “The mixed-team event further enhances gender equality, and I am sure all taekwondo athletes and fans around the world will join me in hailing the IOC decision.”

10

11


EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED Shock results were the name of the game at the 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships

Shock results were the name of the game at the 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships

ANTALYA 2019 WORLD PARA TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS ANTALYA, Turkey (Feb. 5 - 6)


Antalya 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships

DAY

1

Written by IPC Volunteer Writer Lee Reaney Photos provided by Taekwondo Federation of Turkey

Wild – that’s how to describe the first day of competition at the World Para Taekwondo Championships in Turkey, with favorites falling, new nations emerging, and new world champions in multiple divisions. The day was highlighted by unexpected wins for Great Britain’s Matt Bush in the M+75kg, and China’s Yujie Li in the W-58kg division. In a sign of the rapid growth of the sport, neither had been ranked in the top 10 world rankings. More incredibly, both athletes had taken up the sport less than two years ago. China and Thailand both crowned para taekwondo champions for the first time yesterday, while Great Britain saw its first male World Championship win – in either able-bodied or para taekwondo.

Britain’s Bush Scores ‘Sleeper’ Victory Bush walked a tricky path to become Britain’s newest champion. He had to fight through Iran’s No. 3-ranked, two-time World Champion Asghar Aziziaghdam and Russia’s No. 5-ranked 2015 runner-up Zainutdin Ataev, the latter in a thrilling golden point title fight. The achievement, however, didn’t seem to phase the laid-back Brit.

China’s Li Catches a Break China emerged as a force in the sport after crowning two new world champions on Day 1. Perhaps the must stunning result of the day was Yujie Li’s triumph in the women’s middleweight division. Unranked before entering her first international competition, Li looked strong from the get go, upsetting No. 4-ranked hometown favorite Gamze Gurdal and Mexico’s No. 6-ranked Jessica Garcia Quijano. An injury to the division’s top fighter, Denmark’s undefeated Lisa Gjessing, left room for a new champion to emerge. Li bested Serbia’s No. 9-ranked Marija Micev, also appearing in her first international final, in a tight middleweight final.

Denmark’s Gjessing Forced out Li’s win was overshadowed by the loss of Gjessing, one of the sport’s biggest stars. Gjessing was forced to withdraw from her semi-final match after re-injuring the arm she broke while winning her fourth European championship last June. “We’re para taekwondo fighters – we know pain,” said Gjessing. “But this was different.” After x-rays came back negative, the Danish fighter speculated that pins in her arm from her last surgery might be covering a fracture. She’s expected to miss up to nine months, which could impact her Paralympic preparation. 14

Antalya, Turkey

Thailand Crowns World Champion In another unexpected result, Thailand’s Khwansuda Phuangkitcha emerged as one of the strongest fighters in the women’s lightweight -49kg division. She captured her second international title in just her third tournament, becoming Thailand’s first world champion in the process. She shocked Turkey’s No. 2-ranked Meryem Betul Cavdar in the first round before getting by Azerbaijan’s No. 11-ranked Royala Fataliyeva in the semi-final. Fataliyeva had an upset of her own, surprising Mexico’s No. 3-ranked Claudia Romero in her quarter-final fight. Phuangkitcha capped her first world championship after Mongolia’s top-ranked Enkhtuya Khurelbaatar was disqualified for an illegal kick.

Upsets, Upsets, Upsets In a sign that parity has reached the top end of the divisions, new faces from new places shocked their more experienced opponents throughout the day. There was no shortage of top-ranked fighters who failed to live up to pre-tournament expectations. Only three of the 15 top-five seeded fighters in the K44 divisions made it to the semi-finals; four top-five seeds didn’t make the quarter-finals. The men’s heavyweight division lost Croatia’s Ivan Mikulic (No. 1) and Russia’s Aliskhab Ramazanov (No. 4) before the quarter-finals, while the women’s middleweight -58kg category lost the USA’s Brianna Salinaro (No. 2) and Turkey’s Gamze Gurdal (No. 4) in the Round of 16. The women’s lightweight division saw Uzbekistan’s Ziyodakhon Isakova (No. 4) crash out early, while Turkey’s Meryem Betul Cavdar (No. 2) didn’t emerge from her first fight, a disappointing quarter-final loss to Phuangkitcha.

Dominant Performances in K43 Ukraine’s Vika Marchuk showed why she’s the top fighter in the women’s lightweight K43 division with a dominant 20-point win for her sixth world title. She looks set to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and put her counterparts on notice that she’s a force to reckon with. Turkey’s Mehmet Vasif Yakut also put on a clinic in winning the men’s heavyweight K43 division. He outscored his opponents 42-2 in two fights and is certain to become the division’s sole No. 1 seed.

15


Antalya 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships

Antalya, Turkey

More Shocks DAY

2

Written by IPC Volunteer Writer Lee Reaney Photos provided by Taekwondo Federation of Turkey

Day 2 was highlighted by unexpected world titles for Mexico’s Juan Diego Garcia Lopes in the men’s middleweight division (-75kg) and Brazil’s Debora Menezes in the women’s heavyweight (+58 kg) division. The victories mark the arrival of the Pan American players as legitimate contenders for Paralympic gold at Tokyo 2020. They also offer a tantalizing taste of this summer’s Parapan American Games.

After multiple shocks on Day 1, yet more of the sport’s most accomplished athletes fell early on Wednesday. None was more shocking than Iran’s Mahdi Pourrahnama’s Round of 16 exit in the men’s middleweight division to Japan’s Shunsuke Kudo. Pourrahnama has lost only one fight in the last eight years and had won four straight world titles before falling in Turkey. Later, Great Britain’s 2017 World Champion Amy Truesdale failed to replicate teammate Matt Bush’s success from yesterday when she was shocked in the quarter-final by Japan’s Shoka Ota. She was leading with less than 10 seconds to go in the fight before the setback. “I just needed to finish it off,” she said. “But my congratulations to Debora [Menezes] on a well-earned victory [in the gold medal match].”

Latin Surprises Ranked No. 6 in the world coming into the World Para Taekwondo Championships, Garcia Lopes bested a record 39 other competitors in the difficult men’s middleweight division, capping it with a confident 8-4 victory over Russia’s No. 3-ranked Magomedzagir Isalibirov. “It was difficult to deal with the techniques from the new athletes,” he said. “They were quite a surprise.” The Mexican federation is elated with the unexpected win. “The [Mexican federation] president is very happy with Juan’s win,” said Team Chair Veronica Sanatana Rangel. “He’s just shocked - just wow!” Brazil’s No. 8-ranked Debora Menezes felt much the same way after capturing Brazil’s first para taekwondo world title with a clinical 7-3 win over Uzbekistan’s No. 4-ranked Guljonoy Naimova. “I can’t find words to express how it feels,” she said after her win. “I just want to share this with all the people working with me from the beginning.” The result puts her right back into contention to qualify for next summer’s Paralympic Games. She needed a last-second score to squeeze past Nepal’s Palesha Goverdhan in her first fight – “I almost didn’t make history,” she recalls. 16

Favorites Follow Through There was a bit more predictability on Wednesday, especially in the men’s lightweight divisions. Mongolia’s No. 1-ranked Bolor-Erdene Ganbat won his fourth straight world title after getting by Russia’s No. 3-ranked Daniil Sidorov in an entertaining final. He topped the biggest division in para taekwondo history, with 43 fighters trying to topple the Mongolian legend. None came closer than Turkey’s No. 6-ranked Ali Can Ozcan, who rallied from 20 points down in the semifinal before falling 40-37 in what will surely be one of the best fights of the year. On the K43 side, France’s Bopha Kong breezed through the division to pick up his fourth world title – but also his first since 2015. “We trained very hard for this,” said Kong. “It was important to not leave again without the gold medal [like in 2017].” But there is always more work. “Tomorrow morning, we train at 6:00 am,” said Coach Oury Sztantman with a smile. “Well...maybe on Friday!”

Land of the Rising Stars Japan proved that it is more than ready to host the inaugural Paralympic para taekwondo competition. Both Shunsuke Kudo in the men’s middleweight and Shoka Ota in the women’s heavyweight divisions shocked the world’s top seeds in their divisions with stunning golden-point victories. Both went on to win bronze medals. Japan had just a single fighter at the last world championships, but sported a full team in Turkey, including coaches, managers, and support staff. The emergence of Japan is remarkable – both Kudo and Ota picked up the sport only recently. Kudo lost his hand a couple of years ago and took up the sport just last year. Ota started in 2016, well after para taekwondo had been named a Paralympic sport. Both are now world championship medalists and serious contenders at Tokyo 2020.

17


ATHLETE IN FOCUS

Shoko Ota

Japanese Para Player Hopes to Shine in Tokyo 2020

Shoko Ota was born on July 27, 1989 with a congenital defect to her left hand, but it has not held her back in life: The former Winter Paralympic athlete is now aiming at the Summer Paralympics as she shifts from skiing to taekwondo. For the former para-skier, three-time Paralympian and silver and bronze medalist in separate Winter Paralympics, to shift sports so radically represents a massive challenge. But it is a challenge she has willingly accepted, and is now ninth ranked in her category – meaning she has a real chance in Tokyo 2020, the year para taekwondo makes its Paralympic debut. Ota joined her local ski club in the third grade of elementary school and in 2003, when she was a junior high school student and was selected as a national team member of the Japan Para-Ski Federation. From there, her talent blossomed. At the 2004 World Cup in Canada, she participated in cross-country skiing. At the Torino 2006 Paralympics, she was the youngest player in Japanesee Paralympic history, and won bronze in the biathlon. In 2007, she first won the Biathlon World Cup in Finland, and achieved an overall season victory in the event. The following year, she won the 2008 World Cup Finland Cross Country Ski Classic Sprint. She also won both classical shorts and sprints in the World Cup in Norway, and achieved second place in the overall season. At the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics, she won silver in the cross-country skiing classical sprint. In 2014, she was the Japan flag-bearer in the Sochi Paralympics, and retired from para-skiing in April that year. She came across para taekwondo at a promotion for para sports, then, at a taekwondo training event, met Yoriko Oka-

18

moto, the Sydney 2000 Olympic bronze medalist. Their meeting took place in 2015 – the year it was announced that para taekwondo would make its Paralympic debt at Tokyo in 2020. Ota’s interest was piqued. When she heard that there was not a single female para taekwondo player in Japan at that time, she decided to take up the sport, hoping to become a practice partner for new players aiming for the Tokyo Paralympics. Though she participated in the Asian Para Taekwondo Championships in 2016 and won bronze, her plan – to be a supporting player – did not change. In 2017, she did not compete. She decided to go for it and aim for the ultimate goal – the Paralympics – when she participated in the All-Japan Taekwondo Championships in January 2018. There, she took gold. In October that year, she changed her job to SoftBank Corp, which granted her an environment in which she could focus on para taekwondo. Besides training camps, she attended a taekwondo gym and worked on her physical conditioning. Her training paid off when she won the para title in the All Japan Taekwondo Championships in February 2019. That made her the only player designated as a national team member in female para taekwondo. At the 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships in Antalya, Turkey, she won a bronze. Now the 29-year-old’s eyes are set on Tokyo, para taekwondo’s biggest ever moment. And with the hometown advantage – it’s game on. “I can finally play a game like taekwondo,” she said. “Will there be a medal? Now that I can practice well, I think it will follow if my strength improves…I think I should be able to get it.”

WT, Taekwondo Europe to Focus on Education and Development World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue stressed to Taekwondo Europe the importance of new education and development programs for the sport worldwide. Choue was speaking at the Taekwondo Europe Extraordinary Council meeting that took place on Feb. 7 on the sidelines of the Antalya 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships. IOC Vice President Ugur Erdener from Turkey also attended the meeting. After reviewing 2018, the WT leader discussed 2019. The main theme for the year is “Development” – that is, building the capacities of members through education and support. Admitting the failure of past WT ed-

ucation and development programs, Choue vowed a bold new approach. He noted that all related programs will now be upgraded, with online courses replacing offline courses in order to obviate travel times and expenses. Related initiatives include national-level education courses to help grow the grass-root level, while the best referees for the Tokyo Olympic Games will organize joint training camps with coaches. The newly opened Wuxi Center in China will serve as a hub for taekwondo education. On the humanitarian front, Choue said WT will build two more academies for refugees in Djibouti and Rwanda. Meanwhile, the Taekwondo Cares program will reach out to homeless

children and will try to empower women all over the world, particularly in Islamic regions. With the IOC showing an interest in esports, Choue noted that WT is moving forward in this area, and has already demonstrated some developments to the IOC. Related technologies are to be showcased at the Manchester World Championships. And with 2019 marking the 25th anniversary of the IOC’s inclusion of taekwondo in the Olympic program, Taekwondo Europe were also briefed on upcoming joint demonstrations to be held by WT and the International Taekwon-Do Federation, set for Lausanne and Geneva in April.

Para Taekwondo on Target to Inspire at Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games The Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) confirmed on Oct. 8, 2019 that para taekwondo has been included on the official program of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games. The 4th edition of the Asian Para Games will take place on Oct. 9–15, 2022. The excitement and drama of para taekwondo will be on display for the first time at the event. Para taekwondo’s inclusion in the Asian Para Games is the latest example

of the sport’s growing global popularity. Para taekwondo has already been included in the Parapan American Games and African Para Games. Notably, para taekwondo will make its Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020. It has also been confirmed for inclusion at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. “We are grateful to the Asian Paralympic Committee for granting us this privilege and we are committed to proving to them that it was the right decision,”

said WT President Chungwon Choue upon receipt of the news. “Para taekwondo is an inclusive and exhilarating sport and will be like nothing the Asian Paralympic audience has seen before,” Choue continued. “We are sure our athletes will put on a great show in 2022, helping to change attitudes and inspire people throughout Asia to engage in sport.”

19


ATHLETE IN FOCUS

Lisa Gjessing

Para Taekwondo Heading to Paris

Gjessing Gearing up for Paralympic Glory Danish star has won everything but an Olympic medal. That may change in Tokyo

Para Taekwondo confirmed for 2024 Paralympic Games

W

orld Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue welcomed the news that para taekwondo had been confirmed as part of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games sports program. Para taekwondo’s position on the program was announced by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board following its meeting on Jan. 25, 2019. The 21 other sports on the program are: athletics, archery, badminton, blind football, boccia, canoe, cycling, equestrian, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis. “We are delighted that para taekwondo has been included in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games sports program,” said World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue. “We would like to thank the IPC for their continued trust in our sport and we have no doubt our great athletes will repay this trust by putting on a wonderful show.” Choue noted how much work WT has invested in para taekwondo, which has resulted in massive growth in terms of the numbers competing, and massive improvements in the athleticism of the players. He expressed full confidence in the sport’s upcoming Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020. “We cannot wait to see our athletes light up the Paralympic Games,” Choue said. “I guarantee they will provide something completely new and exciting for the global Paralympic audience.”

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or World Para Taekwondo Champion Lisa Gjessing, taekwondo is the gift that keeps on giving. The undefeated Danish fighter has won it all – World Championships and European Championships titles – but it is Paralympic glory that she has yet to achieve. Training with the Danish national para taekwondo team at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics test event on Sept. 28, that was something she was hoping to put right next summer. Gjessing is one of para taekwondo’s superstars; she has already been iden-

tified by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as a face to watch. Born in 1978, she is one of the older athletes on the circuit, but what she lacks in youth she more than makes up for in experience. Almost 20 years ago, Gjessing was competing for Denmark in the 2001 and 2003 WT World Taekwondo Championships. However, in 2007 she was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, and underwent different treatments. In 2012, her lower left arm was amputated. It was a difficult time, but taekwondo gave her hope. She got in touch with her coach, Bjarne Johansen, who spoke

to her about para taekwondo. She got back into training and practiced alongside elite athletes at Johansen’s training centre. Not long after, she entered the World Para Taekwondo Championships in Switzerland in 2013 in the -58kg category. She emerged with gold. Since then she has not looked back. She has fully recovered from her cancer and has not lost as a para taekwondo athlete. She is confident she can crown her career by winning gold at Tokyo 2020. “I heard from Johanssen in the summer of 2012... [since then] taekwondo has become a very big gift to me,” she said. “It will be a great challenge for me to advance to the Tokyo Paralympics.”

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DAY 1

MANCHESTER 2019

WORLD TAEKWONDO

CHAMPIONSHIPS GB’s taekwondo Mecca delivers biggest, best World Championships in sport’s history MANCHESTER, Great Britain May 15-19, 2019

The Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships got underway on May 15 at the Manchester Arena with a spectacular opening ceremony featuring local dance troupes and the famed WT Demonstration Team. A record 927 athletes from 145 countries, plus one refugee team fighting under the World Taekwondo flag, were registered to compete in 16 weight categories, making the Manchester event the largest in the sport’s history. “It is a pleasure to be back in this great city, a city that truly loves taekwondo and a city that will provide a fantastic atmosphere for our athletes over the next five days,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “Athletes from 145 countries plus one refugee team are in this arena – united by their love of taekwondo. This is the beauty of our sport: it is universal.” Action took place on seven mats over five days. Semis and finals were broadcast live on the BBC and across the world. A major innovation in Manchester was the 4D camera rig that was used for the semis and finals. Having been pioneered in the Wuxi Grand Slam series, the futuristic equipment, which enables “Matrix”-style freeze frames from all angles, will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. Day 1 featured semi-finals; the title fights kicked off on Day 2.


–46kg The opening final of the 2019 World Championships saw Korea’s reigning World Champion Jae-young Sim do battle with Iran’s Mahla Momenzadeh. The first round saw both athletes struggle to get past their opponents’ defence. Sim scored an early kick to the body to take a 2-0 lead. The second round saw more of the same with Momenzadeh varying her technique and landing to the body to even the scores, then Sim scored to the head, then the body, to go 7-2 up. Momenzadeh provided an immediate response at the start of the third round to get back into the game and pushed Sim to the wire, but Sim, the 2017 World Champion, showed her experience to retain her title and win gold, 11-6. Xueqin Tan of China and Thailand’s Julanan Khantikulanon took bronzes.

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

DAY 2

–58kg The second final of the night was between Korea’s teenage sensation Jun Jang and Mexico’s Brandon Plaza Hernandez. A punch and a crescent kick to the head gave Jang an early 4-0 lead. Hernandez, working on the inside, landed a kick to the body of his own but just as Hernandez was hitting his stride, Jang landed multiple blows to the body for a commanding 11-2 lead. Jang extended his lead further in Round 2 with a mixture of shots to go 19-6 ahead. In the third, Hernandez lifted his intensity but the Korean wunderkind weathered the storm and built on his lead to take gold with a sizzling score of 25-9. Portugal’s Rui Braganca and Argentina’s Lucas Guzman had to be satisfied with bronzes.

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The final of the W-73kg pitted the experience of Mexico’s Maria Espinoza against the youth of Korea’s Da-bin Lee: Espinoza had first appeared at the Worlds in 2007 while Lee was making her first appearance at the championships. A body shot gave Lee an early 2-0 lead. Espinoza responded with a punch and tried to counter but Lee blocked well and launched an attack of her own to go 7-1 up. At the start of Round 2, Lee took a 9-1 lead. Espinoza kept firing, but to little avail, as the Korean built a 14-2 lead. In the third. Lee maintained her work rate and kept landing to both body and head, winning her first World Championship title, 22-2. Marie Paule Ble of France and Turkey’s Nafia Kus took home bronze medals.

4 New Athletes Elected to WT Athletes’ Committee Four new athletes were elected on May 18 to serve on the World Taekwondo Athletes’ Committee for a four-year term from 2019-2023. The new members were elected by their fellow athletes during the Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships. It was the first time that World Taekwondo has held elections for its Athletes’ Committee and reflects the federation’s commitment to ensuring that the athlete voice continues to be represented in the governance of the sport.

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

–73kg

The four elected athletes are: Jingyu Wu (China) W-49kg Nikita Glasnovic (Croatia) W-57kg Benjamin Haines (Great Britain) M-68kg Stephen Lambdin (USA) M+80kg In order to ensure the committee is globally balanced, no more than one athlete per country could be elected and male and female athletes had to be equally represented. Jordan’s Nadin Dawani and France’s Pascal Gentil continue to serve as co-chairs of the committee, and sit as ex-officio members on the World Taekwondo Council.

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–54kg

+73kg The opening final of the night was the latest installment in a fierce rivalry as two-time World Champion Bianca “Queen Bee” Walkden of Great Britain stalked onto the mats against Olympic gold medalist Shuyin “Beautiful Giraffe” Zheng of China. The pair last met at 2018’s Grand Prix final in Fujairah, where Zheng came out on top. Walkden took an early lead in the first round. Zheng evened the scores with a kick to the body at the start of the second round and by the start of the third round was ahead. However, in torrid combat, she racked up 10 penalties resulting in automatic disqualification and a third world title for Walkden. The bronze medals were won by Mexico’s Briseida Acosta and Croatia’s Doris Pole.

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The M-54kg final saw a battle of youth as 2016 Youth World Champion Jun-seo Bae of Korea faced Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games gold medalist Georgy Popov of Russia. Both fighters kicked off at a frenetic pace. Bae took an early lead landing a kick to both head and body, winning the first round. The intensity slowed at the start of the second with both fighters appearing fatigued, but this quickly passed. Bae showcased the constant kicking associated with Korean fighters and was landing consistently. Popov fought back manfully, but Bae showed no sign of slowing down, and the Korean won gold after a spectacularly high-scoring 53-24 match. The bronze medals were won by Paulo Melo of Brazil and Armin Hadipour Seighalani of Iran.

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

DAY 3

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The last final of the night drew hometown favourite Bradly Sinden of Great Britain against Javier Perez Polo of Spain. Sinden took an early lead after a penalty and followed up with a twisting kick to the body. However, a double chop kick to the head put Perez Polo ahead. Body kicks from both athletes took the score to 8-6 at the end of the first. In the second round Perez Polo landed to the body to extend his lead once again. In see-saw combat, an ax kick put Sinden ahead but there was only one point in it with little to choose between the two. A head shot with eight seconds to go until the end of the round looked to have given Perez Polo the lead, but Sinden responded immediately with a head kick of his own. In the third, another head shot from Sinden gave him a four-point lead, then a kick to the body with 10 seconds to go put him 24-19 up. Polo Perez attacked and forced two gam-jeoms but it wasn’t enough and to the crowd’s delight, Sinden won Great Britain’s first ever male World Championship gold. The bronze medals were taken by Korea’s Dae-hoon Lee and Russia’s Alexey Denisenko.

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MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

–68kg

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–74kg Jordan’s Rio 2016 gold medalist Ahmad “The Desert Wolf” Abughaush and Italy’s Simone Alessio started the second final of the evening in intense fashion, with Alessio scoring 6-1 with a head shot, body shot and punch. In the second round, Alessio used his 19-inch height advantage to hunt his opponent’s head. Abughaush fought back with four punches, but the second round finished 14-7 to the Italian. The final round saw both players go all out, fighting and colliding. With 25 seconds left, Abughaush caught up with a series of punches, but was ultimately defeated by Alessio who took his first World Championship gold, 18-11. Bronzes were won by Spain’s Daniel Quesada Barrera and Kairat Sarymsakov from Kazakhstan.

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-49kg The first final of the night was the W-49kg with Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist Panipak Wongpattanakit taking on twotime Olympic champion Jingyu Wu of China. Wu is in the midst of a comeback, following the birth of her daughter. Wu took a fall at the start of the first, giving Wongpattanakit the first point, and the Thai followed up with a head shot and two body shots for an 8-0 lead. The second saw Wongpattanakit extend her lead with a range of blows, finishing the round 16-0. Wu went all out in the final round landing body kicks and a punch, but ultimately could not match Wongpattanakit, who won the gold 18-5. Even so, it was a great silver medal performance from the Chinese legend and super-mom. Kristina Tomic of Croatia and Rukiye Yildirim of Turkey won bronzes.

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

DAY 4

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-57kg The most anticipated final of the night was between Great Britain’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Jade ”The Headhunter” Jones and Korea’s Ah-reum Lee. Jones grabbed two points with a body kick in the first four seconds. Lee opened her scoring with a punch; Jones replied with a punch of her own to go 3-1 up. The second round saw Jones score with three body shots; she finished the round in the lead, 10-3. In the third, Lee forced Jones into conceding two gamjeoms but Jones hit back with a body shot. With less than 30 seconds left, Lee went into overdrive but Jones’ defense proved solid and she landed her first World Championship title with a 14-7 victory. Skylar Park of Canada and Lijun Zhou of China won the bronzes.

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In a city that is home to two world-famous football clubs, sport is in the blood. So, to be recognized for holding Manchester’s top sporting spectacle is a true honor - an honor granted to GB Taekwondo. In a glittering October ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, attended by sporting royalty and multiple VIPs, the 2019 World Taekwondo Championships at Manchester Arena (May 15-19) were named “Sports Event of the Year” at the Manchester Sports Awards 2019. The tournament produced three British world title winners - Jade Jones, Bradly Sinden and Bianca Walkden - while bumper attendances justified the decision of the world governing body to award the tournament to Great Britain for the first time. Almost 1,000 athletes from 145 countries attended the championships, which also yielded a bronze medal to 16-year-old Yorkshire schoolgirl, Aaliyah Powell. The five-day competition was watched by over 18 million people across 13 global broadcasters. The tourney delivered an economic injection of £2.6 million, with £4.7 million of media value delivered to partners. “The Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships saw the culmination of many years of hard work by both our events and performance teams,” said GB Taekwondo Chief Executive Officer Matt Archibald. “The event was a stunning success in every department and it will live long in the memories of those involved.” “The event team set the stage brilliantly and our athletes performed with pride, courage and great skill to win an amazing three gold and one bronze medals,” Archibald continued. “Our partners Manchester City Council and GB Sport also deserve special praise for sharing our vision and supporting the project so wholeheartedly.” Manchester has been the GB’s capital of taekwondo for more than a decade. It is home to Team GB’s training center, hosted the first-ever World Taekwondo Grand Prix and previously staged the 2012 European Championships. Looking ahead, it will host not only the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in 2021 but the 2022 Euros along with the 2023 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final.

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships Win Top Honor

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–87kg In the M-87kg final, Vladislav Larin from Russia faced off against Brazil’s Icaro Miguel Martins Soares. As action got underway, Larin gave away an early point with a gam-jeom and at the end of Round 1, that penalty was the only thing separating the two fighters. Round 2 began with Martins Soares scoring a body shot followed by a punch; Larin returned fire with a head and a body shot. The final round started off 4-5 to Larin, who pushed the score up 5-10 with hand and foot work. With less than 30 seconds to go, Martins Soares gave it his all but it was the Russian who took the gold, winning 19-9. Ivan Sapina of Croatia and Zhaoxiang Song of China both won bronze medals.

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MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

DAY 5

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MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

-62kg

+87kg In the M+87kg final, Rafael Alba of Cuba took on Carlos Sansores of Mexico. Alba’s towering 202 cms in height did not stop Sansores from scoring a head shot within the first 40 seconds - though the kick was followed by a body shot from Alba. The second round started with Alba scoring a head shot, putting him in the lead 6-4. The final round saw kicks to the body from both Alba and Sansores, but with one minute to go the score was frozen at 6-4. With 20 seconds left, Alba scored another head shot, winning 9-5. Maicon Siqueira of Brazil and Hamza Kattan of Jordan took home the bronzes.

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For the W-62kg title, Irem Yaman of Turkey did battle with Brazil’s Caroline Santos. In the first round, Santos opened the scoring with a single punch. The second saw more punches from both opponents and a fall from Santos, but Yaman connected with a head shot, bringing her score up to 8-2. With one minute to go of the final round, both fighters increased their intensity, but it was Yaman whose target radar was locked on, and she landed the greater number of kicks. Despite Santos’ best efforts Yaman won the fight, the gold and the title, 21-7. Bruna Vuletic of Croatia and Magda Wiet Henin of France took bronze.

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In the W-67kg event, China’s Mengyu Zhang took on defending World Champion Nur Tatar Askari of Turkey. Zhang landed an early kick to the body to establish the lead but Tatar Askari responded quickly, hitting back with a head shot. The second round started with Zhang scoring two body shots followed by a head shot. Tatar Askari was fighting valiantly, but by the end of the round, lagged behind, 4-11. The final round started with Tatar Askari scoring to the head, but with one minute to go, the score was 13-9 to Zhang, who contined to land on target. Tatar Askari lost her balance for a gamjeom and Zhang became the 2019 W -67kg World Champion with an 18-9 victory. Farida Azizova of Azerbaijan and Milena Titoneli of Brazil went home with bronzes.

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

-67kg

–80kg In the M-80kg final, the stylish Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan took on Greece’s Apostolos Telikostoglou. Beigi Harchegani was the first to score, but Telikostoglou followed up with a head shot. Beigi Harchegani punched; the Greek scored another head shot, evening out the score, 6-6. In the second, Beigi Harchegani was adding the points, notably with a beautiful spinning head kick, ending the round up 15-6. The third round was fast and furious, with the Azeri knocking Telikostoglou down twice. The Greek gave it his all, but ultimately, Beigi Harchegani took his second World Championship gold, winning 22-12. Woo hyeok Park of Korea and Moises Hernandez of the Dominican Republic took bronzes.

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For the W-53kg title, Thailand’s Phannapa Harnsujin went onto the mats against Tatiana Kudashova of Russia. Battle commenced with two body shots from Harnsujin, followed by a body shot from Kudashova, but Harnsujin’s head kick put her in the lead. In the second round, the women both fought aggressively, resulting in a gamjeom for Harnsujin. Kudashova scored her second body shot of the match, but was still behind Harnsujin. The third round started with another kick to the body from the Thai, followed by another three gam-jeoms to Kudashova. Result: gold for Harnsujin, 20-10. Aaliyah Powell of Great Britain and Inese Tarvida of Latvia won the bronze medals.

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

-53kg

–63kg In the M-63kg final, Rio 2016 gold medalist Shuai Zhao of China faced off against Iran’s Soroush Ahmadi. Zhao scored first with a kick to the head and body. The second round saw both men punching, but Ahmadi took a fall and received a gam-jeom. As the match approached the halfway point Zhao appeared to be comfortably ahead - but Ahmadi caught up. As the final round got underway, Zhao needed to do something decisive - and he did, landing a spinning body kick, a head kick and a spinning head shot consceutively. Superb techniques and a superb victory for Zhao, 27-7. Bronzes went to Germany’s Iordanis Konstantinidis and Belgium’s Jaouad Achab.

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Hometown Hero Becomes GB’s First Male Champion At just 20 years of age, Bradly Sinden has managed what no British man has done before: Sinden is Team GB’s first-ever male World Champion. Speaking to him on the sidelines of the event after his 24-19 victory over Spanish favorite Javier Perez Polo in the M-68kg, it was apparent he was taking it all in his stride. “It is amazing, it still hasn’t sunk in,” he said. “I went out there to see what I could do. Ultimately, I put the work in and that is what got me the gold medal. It is the only thing I came here for, and I am really happy I got it.” How does it feel to be the first? “Being Britain’s first male champion is also great and I am really lucky to be the first one from the team,” he said. “The girls are so dominant in the sport, so the men need to step up our competition.” Indeed, Team GB’s top-notch female squad is well known and feared across the game; the men’s squad, less so. Still, for Sinden, even though the women are the most recognizable faces in British taekwondo, there is no gender rivalry between them. “I want the team to do well, I want everyone to do well,” he said. “There is a bit of friendly competitive banter, but we all support each other.”

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Regardless of male or female, hometown advantage seems to be real. “It’s even better that I am on home soil,” Sinden said. “It is great to hear everyone cheering me on and having my family here to support me.” Clearly, though, the road to Manchester has been rocky: A late-season defeat in Wuxi required a major rethink. “After my emotional defeat during the Grand Slam last December, I looked at what I needed to do better,” he said. “I implemented everything I needed to change in my next three events leading up to the World Championships and went to training camp. “My fighting style is aggressive, but I believe in my flexibility, fitness and ability 100%. I have the best fitness in the game and as an athlete, I believe in my coach.” “I knew I had to be physically and mentally strong - if you’re not mentally strong you can’t do anything.” With the world title, he has broken a jinx. Now, he is targeting another first. “I want to come home with the first men’s Olympic gold medal. I have had a lot to improve on, but I have a lot of drive.” Will he manage it? Watch this space.

Choue Meets Refugee Team in Manchester on Eve of Battle

World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue met with members of the Refugee Team on May 17, just ahead of their participation in the Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships. This year’s championships are the first in World Taekwondo history to feature a Refugee Team and this reflects the federation’s commitment to providing oppor-

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

ATHLETE IN FOCUS Bradly Sinden

tunities for all to practice the sport. During the meeting, Choue encouraged the athletes to compete at their very best in the Olympic qualification tournament in Milano and encouraged them not to give up their hopes of competing at the Olympic Games. The members of the Refugee Team are: • Abdulah Sediqi (Belgium, M-68kg) • Kasra Mehdipournejad (Germany, M-74kg) • Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi (Netherlands, W-46kg) • Amir Mohammad Hosseini (Germany, M-58kg) Taekwondo is a sport that can be practised by anyone and the federation has made excellent progress in delivering opportunities for refugees and displaced people to engage in it.

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Jae-Young Sim

‘Keep Attacking!’

ATHLETE IN FOCUS

Less than 24 hours have passed since Jae-young Sim successfully defended her world title, but it was clear the young Korean has no intention of resting on her laurels. On the mats, Sim overcame a spirited performance by Iran’s Mahla Momenzadeh to win her second consecutive World Championship title in front of a packed crowd at the Manchester Arena. Sim led from the beginning but Momenzadeh kept her on her toes throughout. With just a five-point lead, some fighters may have become nervous and decided to defend to protect what they had. But that isn’t Sim’s style. “My style is to keep attacking! Attacking is most important for me so I try and attack as much as I can and don’t defend too much,” she said. “In Korea, we are taught to continuously kick and that’s what I tried to do.” In fact, Sim did not feel the pressure you would expect if you were fighting to retain your crown as World Champion: Experience, it seems, pays off. “In Muju [at the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships] I was more nervous as it was my first try to win a World Championships. Many of the people in the crowd were from Korea and I knew some of them, so that did make me feel more comfortable but I was still more nervous there.” “Here in Manchester, I felt some pressure as I didn’t have the same

support from the audience but I was very focused as I was trying to win to maximise qualification points for the Olympics.” Naturally, Tokyo 2020 is a massive motivation for Sim - it will be her first-ever Olympic Games. “Obviously I would love to get gold at Tokyo 2020 but this is my first Olympics so really I just don’t want to get nervous and to go out and do my best,” she said. “I am working hard to improve my physical skills because I am not the biggest in my category. I am smaller than the other athletes and so I tried to step a lot.” With the track to Tokyo getting shorter by the day, Olympic considerations are rising - especially injury management. “My first goal is to participate in the next Olympic Games,” Sim said. “I was focused on winning this final, but I am also focused on avoiding getting injured. I got injured before and this was my first event this year; without injury I can keep performing.” Last April, Sim injured her knee and was out of the game for two months; avoiding a recurrence is at the forefront of her mind. When fighting she can’t feel the injury, she said, but as a hardcore trainer, she has to manage her schedule to give her the best chance in Tokyo. Before heading to Rome for the next round of Grand Prix battle, Sim plans to take a vacation where she will rest as much as possible. Having won her second world title there is no doubt her rest is well-earned.

Simone Alessio

Alessio Electrifies Team Italy by Winning First World Title The Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships broke many records, but for Italians it was Day 4 which saw the most important record being broken. In the M-74kg final, an Italian teenager took to the mat with the hopes of a nation on his broad shoulders: Simone Alessio was hoping to win his country’s first-ever taekwondo World Championship title. Stood opposite him was “The Desert Wolf” - Jordan’s Ahmad Abughaush who knows a thing or two about breaking records for his country, having won Jordan’s first ever Olympic gold medal in any sport at the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Alessio towered over Abughaush, but what Abughaush lacked in height he made up for in experience over his counterpart. But despite his inexperience, it was Simone who came out on top on the night, winning a historic gold medal after an action-packed 18-11 final. “I am so happy and proud of my achievements,” the young Italian said. “This has been my dream since I was a child, so it was really great to arrive in the best condition I have ever been in and win gold. I had to train really hard for this competition because I knew Abughaush was going to be very strong. When I won, I couldn’t believe it, and I think this is only the start.” Alessio’s height advantage was noticeable, and while some believe this gives him a natural advantage, he doesn’t necessarily agree. “I guess I have a small advantage

because of my height, but if my opponent is quick and smart, I find this difficult. It is not always easy. But my favourite action is kicking, which I am good at because of my long legs!” Alessio played a smart game of “tallkwondo,” landing a number of crescent and axe kicks to Abughaush’s head. But as he says, speed can be difficult for him to deal with, and tall fighters are disadvantaged at close range. Abughaush threatened in the final round by landing a number of punches to the body. Despite his achievement, Alessio is not thinking as far as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Instead, the World Champion is staying focused on what’s around the corner. “I go from competition to competition. I am looking forward to the Roma Grand Prix in a few weeks, which I hope to win. Tokyo 2020 is a dream, but I am not looking that far ahead. I am living in the present and just trying to be the best I can be.” So next up for Alessio and the rest of Team Italy is Rome - home turf. “I am so proud of my team,” he said. “Even though I was the only one to leave the World Championships with a medal, they all did great and I can’t wait to keep training together. “I want to thank them all for the support and I am excited for our next competition together.” Stand by.

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ATHLETE IN FOCUS

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MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

IOC President Graces World Championships Bach joins Choue, meets athletes, watches fights

I

nternational Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach joined World Taekwondo (WT) President Chungwon Choue and a packed crowd on May 18, the penultimate day of the World Taekwondo Championships, where he watched matches, met players and got a sneak peek at the development of etaekwondo. Bach, who was joined by IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, was treated to the very best of competitive taekwondo as athletes showcased the awesome athleticism and breathtaking drama which is synonymous with the sport. Under Bach’s eyes, and encouraged by the deafening crowd, Great Britain, Thailand and Italy took golds.

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Choue also introduced Bach to young taekwondo athlete Maisie Catt. Catt, a double leg amputee, is part of the National GB Taekwondo Academy squad and an inspiration to young taekwondo practitioners around the world. In the arena, the two leaders visited the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) booth, where they met with members of the Refugee Team competing at the event. They were also treated to a preview of the in-development taekwondo esports game by Athletes’ Committee Co-chair Pascal Gentil - himself, a double Olympic medalist. The first-person, interactive game is currently being developed. It fuses the virtual world with real-life exercise as

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WT Flag Passes from Manchester 2019 to Wuxi 2021

Pascal Gentil, a real-life Olympian, showcases WT's esports initiative in Manchester

MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

players are immersed in a virtual taekwondo match where they themselves have to kick and punch to win. “These were truly spectacular world championships with the sporting action matched only by the excitement and enjoyment of the crowds,” Bach said. “Taekwondo is really showing that it is a global sport for big and small nations alike.” The IOC chief is hardly a stranger to the World Taekwondo Championships: He previously visited the 2017 event in Muju, Korea. “It was a pleasure to host IOC President Thomas Bach here in Manchester for our record-breaking World Championships,” Choue said. “President Bach has always supported our beloved sport and I thank him for being here with us to witness some of the world’s best taekwondo athletes in action.”

The closing ceremony saw the World Taekwondo flag officially passed from the Manchester 2019 Organising Committee to the hosts of the 2021 World Championships, Wuxi. The following awards were presented at the end of the ceremony:

•Women’s MVP – Jade Jones (Great Britain) •Men’s MVP – Jun Jang (Korea) •Best Women’s Team – Korea •Best Men’s Team – Korea •Best Men’s Team Coach – Claudio Nolano (Italy) •Best Women’s Team Coach – Chang-geon Lee (Korea) •Best Women’s Referee – Linfang Zhu (China) •Best Men’s Referee – Stefan Raileanu (Moldova) •Fighting Spirit Award – Canada •Active Participation Award – Brazil

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WT S-class International Kyorugi Referees (as of January 14, 2020) CONTINENT

COUNTRY

IR Number

NAME

PRO DATE

GENDER

Asia

Chinese Taipei

010-0568 010-0560 010-0570 029-0098 034-0138 006-0257 024-0987 038-0011 018-0852 018-2053 025-0002 025-0027 025-0030 025-0026 038-0176 034-0143 040-0013 040-0015 001-0154 001-0155 002-0282 002-0088 016-0753 002-0083 002-0118 002-0070 002-0086 016-0752 016-0766 016-0737 016-0750

Sung Kuang Sen Sa Ok Kim Mao Kee Lung Chun-Feng Chen Wang Wen Hsien Charles Mok Hung Fai Myoung Gon Moon Chi Ying Yeung Acen Tanuwijaya Herman Andikara Mojtaba Nazmdeh Nasser Bagheri Mehdi Kashanian Yadollah Rezvani Mohammad Amin Namjou Tareq M.T. Al-Wiher Ahmed Izzat Othman Yasin N.aimat Chang Nam Moon Jeong Boo Hong Hyun Sup Park Kyu Hyung Lee Jung Ho Choi Kang Ein Kim Ki Yong Kim Sun Jang Kang Sang Hyun Lee Sang Jin Han Kil Lae Kim Soo Gon Oh Myeong Soo Chang

2000/12/31 2002/12/31 2004/06/30 2015/12/31 2019/12/31 2002/06/30 2010/06/30 2019/12/31 2011/12/31 2012/12/31 2010/12/31 2015/12/31 2015/12/31 2017/12/31 2017/12/31 2015/12/31 2019/12/31 2019/12/31 1994/09/10 1994/09/10 1998/06/30 2000/12/31 2000/12/31 2001/12/31 2002/06/30 2003/06/30 2003/12/31 2008/06/30 2008/06/30 2008/12/31 2009/12/31

Male Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male

Hong Kong

Indonesia Iran

Jordan

Korea

CONTINENT

COUNTRY

Macau Malaysia

Europe

Nepal Philippine Saudi Arabia Singapore U.A.E Vietnam Austria Croatia Cyprus France Denmark Germany

Greece Israel Italy Netherlands

IR Number

NAME

PRO DATE

GENDER

025-0004 029-0004 034-0114 038-0075 038-0169 038-0200 025-0001 015-0687 015-0692 015-0685 024-2121 025-0107 006-0594 025-0211 034-0179 038-0054 021-0952 021-2092 021-2091 013-0623 035-0031 030-0006 013-0640 021-1128 030-0014 025-0208 029-0114 008-1034 035-0033 001-0170 038-0215

Hwa Ryong Kim Seok Han Kang Dong Cheon Ham Young Hwan Choi Sang Joon Choi In Jae Hwang Wai Pui William Wong Kalanayagam A.R. Nadarajan Tai Loke Woon Deep Raj Gurung Roland Gayo Campos Abubakr A.K. Kordi Teong Chin Lim Ishak Mohamed Xuan Thanh Vu Gholam Reza Shojaie Aliabadi Miroslav Brezan Svetlana Gvozdic Panikos Loizou Benjamin John Denis Odjo David Coupar Jin Kun Baek Constantin Zabbal Thekla Oetjens-Breitenfeld Kostas Kaloudis Avi Kadouri Tricoli Lorenzo Federico Zanette Myung Soo Seo Frans Flinsenberg

2012/12/31 2014/12/31 2014/12/31 2017/12/31 2019/12/31 2019/12/31 2013/12/31 2008/12/31 2008/12/31 2010/12/31 2017/12/31 2013/12/31 2001/06/30 2016/12/31 2018/12/31 2017/12/31 2011/12/31 2019/12/31 2015/12/31 2008/12/31 2015/12/31 2019/12/31 2008/06/30 2015/12/31 2019/12/31 2017/12/31 2014/12/31 2000/12/31 2019/12/31 1998/12/31 2017/12/31

Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Male Male

CONTINENT

COUNTRY

IR Number

NAME

PRO DATE

GENDER

Norway Poland Portugal Russia Spain

025-0020 021-1125 038-0243 030-0002 016-0787 025-0018 035-0038 038-0226 029-0134 013-0632 013-0654 025-0102 015-0712 038-0163 001-0162 008-0572 015-0684 029-0045 020-0936 038-0037 038-0164 020-0938 020-0945 033-0036 012-1061 015-0703 022-2077 029-0132 033-0002 013-0604 033-0031 020-1104 001-0175 005-0225 002-0281 002-0069 002-0100 019-0861 002-0072 013-0625 019-2059 019-0866 019-0910 029-0141 029-0143 019-0865 029-0142 038-0025 038-0067 015-0673 038-0005 029-0145 038-0068 027-0202 018-0848 018-1082 013-0634 013-0633 028-0101 029-0123 029-0042 034-0172 020-0939

Jessica B. Stenholm Dariusz Nowicki Nuno Grossmann Sergey A.Danilov Sang Soon Lee Chang Yang Kim Camilo Aleman Macias Carmen Navarro Ingles Chakir Chelbat Galip Ziya Yalginkaya Tong Wan Shin Ian Leafe Maria Andrea Mancuso Jose Eduardo Cornelio Byung Kyu Lee Ken Wai-Kin Cheung Myung Ok Yu Linda Kwan Denis Yew Pyn Chen Antoine Achkouti Song Chul Kim Nelson Brizuela Cortes Wen Hong Huang Sue Jionschyon Kim Morales Sergio Chavez Rafael Jesus Ruelas Reyes Roberto Lopez Lopez Miguel Angel Carrillo Jorge Reynoso Cruz Varo Barragan Benites Reinaltt Arles Javier Ramon Olivieri Sanchez Young Keun Lee Koang Woong Kim Young Sam Kim Eui Bin Lee Dong Sup Kim Bruce Harris In Kon Park Gregory S. Kailian William Sullivan Leon Preston Myung Chan Kim Stephen C. Dring Bernard Ellis Robinson John Holloway Valerie A. Long Chuong Tien Pham Anne Gray Chase Raymond Hsu James Charles Montgomery John Curtis Seiber Linda Vira Litchford Maria Nelly Chacin L. Ki Young Jeong Mohamed Riad Ibrahim Yong Kwang Kim Snosy A. Mohamed Benali Youssef Samuel Michael Loiacono Khim Hua Seng Rene Raymond Leveaux Stephen Liu

2010/12/31 2014/12/31 2019/12/31 2010/12/31 2014/12/31 2015/12/31 2015/12/31 2018/12/31 2011/12/31 2009/12/31 2015/12/31 2013/12/31 2012/12/31 2018/12/31 1994/09/10 2002/12/31 2007/06/30 2012/12/31 2014/12/31 2018/12/31 2019/12/31 2011/12/31 2013/12/31 2016/12/31 2005/12/31 2010/06/30 2015/12/31 2015/12/31 2015/12/31 2006/08/02 2017/12/31 2016/12/31 1994/09/10 1996/01/01 2000/12/31 2000/12/31 2000/12/31 2000/12/31 2006/06/30 2010/06/30 2011/12/31 2012/12/31 2013/12/31 2014/12/31 2015/12/31 2016/12/31 2016/12/31 2017/12/31 2017/12/31 2018/12/31 2018/12/31 2019/12/31 2019/12/31 2019/12/31 2006/12/31 2010/12/31 2007/06/30 2009/06/30 2018/12/31 2010/12/31 2014/12/31 2015/12/31 2011/12/31

Female Male Male Male Male Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Female Male Female Male Male Male Female Female Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male Male

Sweden Turkey GB Pan-am

Argentina Aruba Canada

Costa Rica Ecuador Guatemala Mexico

Panama Peru Puerto Rico USA

WT S-class International Poomsae Referees (as of January 14, 2020) CONTINENT COUNTRY IR Number NAME

PRO DATE GENDER

Asia

2018/12/31 2016/12/31 2017/12/31 2016/12/31 2016/12/31

Europe Africa

Korea Singapore Germany GB Egypt

006-0021 006-0055 001-0127 003-0018 001-0001

World Taekwondo

In Ok Yang Teong Chin Lim Bruckel Wolfgang Tong Wan Shin Ki Young JEONG

Female Male Male Male Male

Africa

Venezuela Egypt Libya

Oceania

Morocco Australia

New Zealand

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MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS 55 54


MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS 57 56


MANCHESTER 2019 WORLD TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS

Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships:

Medal Tables

WOMEN TEAM

58

RANK

NOC

1

MEN TEAM

PARTICIPANTS

RANK

NOC

8

1

8

8

289

7

Thailand

280

5

Turkey

6

TOTAL POINTS

REGISTERED

COMPETED

Korea

320

8

2

China

297

3

Great Britain

4

PARTICIPANTS TOTAL POINTS

REGISTERED

COMPETED

Korea

315

8

8

2

Russia

221

8

8

7

3

China

167

8

8

4

4

4

Great Britain

149

8

8

240

8

8

5

Azerbaijan

148

8

8

Mexico

96

8

8

6

Italy

140

6

6

7

Brazil

94

8

8

7

Cuba

129

2

2

8

Croatia

88

8

8

8

Mexico

124

7

7

9

Russia

76

8

8

9

Brazil

119

8

8

10

Iran

69

6

6

10

Jordan

99

8

8

10

Spain

99

8

8

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ROME, Italy June 7-9, 2019

DAY 1

In the first final of the Grand Prix, superstar Dae-hoon Lee of Korea faced Mirhashem Hosseini of Iran in one of the game’s most competitive categories. Hosseini was first to strike, taking a 2-0 lead. Lee got himself off the mark with a kick to the body then a punch, but a near-immediate response from Hosseini restored his two-point lead. At the start of the second round, a crescent kick to the head gave Hosseini an 8-4 lead, which he extended to 10-4 with a few seconds of the round remaining. In the third, a punch from Lee reduced the point deficit to five and he quickly followed up with a kick to the head to shorten Hosseini’s lead further. A gam-jeom brought Lee within one point of his opponent. One minute remained. Hosseini landed a punch to break Lee’s momentum and followed up with a kick to the body. With ten seconds of the match remaining the score was 13-11 to Hosseini - and that was where it finished, with Hosseini taking gold. The bronze medals were won by Great Britain’s Bradly Sinden and China’s Shuai Zhao.

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Croatia’s Matea Jelic met Korea’s Jan-di Kim in the W-67kg final. Strong defences from both fighters saw neither manage to register a point in the opening round. The second round continued in the same vein with both fighters struggling to break through each other’s defences. At the end of second round it was just 1-0 to Kim. Action hardly heated up until, with 45 seconds remaining of the final round, Jelic evened the score with a punch to the body. Now, it was game on. Kim returned with a punch of her own to regain the lead. With 10 seconds left it looked like Kim would secure gold - but a spinning back kick followed by a front kick from Jelic in the last few seconds saw her win the match 8-3. Bad luck for Kim, who had been ahead for so long, but great down-to-the wire play by Jelic. Magda Wiet Henin of France and Egypt’s Hedaya Malak took home the bronzes. 61


The M+80kg paired Russia’s Vladislav Larin and Kazakhstan’s Ruslan Zhaparov. The final followed a similar pattern to the W-67kg final that had preceded it, with both fighters testing each other without registering any real points. Zhaparov was the first to break the deadlock as he landed a punch midway through the second round. The relative calm of the first two rounds disappeared in the third as the fight exploded into action. Zhaparov landed a kick to the body and a spinning kick to take a commanding 7-1 lead with just 30 seconds to go. But Larin fought back valiantly and landed a flurry of kicks to take the score to 7-6 and then 7-7. With very little time remaining the Russian completed his comeback and landed a kick to the body to win the match and the gold medal, 9-8. The bronze medals were won by two veteran warriors: Sajjad Mardani of Iran and Mahama Cho of Great Britain.

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DAY 2 The first final of the night pitted Turkey’s Hatice Kubra Ilgun against Ah-reum Lee of Korea. Lee broke the deadlock with a punch but a kick to the body from Ilgun took the Turk into the lead. Lee made good use of punching from close range to give herself a 5-2 lead but Ilgun responded with one of her own just before the end of the round. Lee came out strongly in the second, landing a kick to the body and a kick to the head in quick succession. A punch from Ilgun brought the scores to 10-4 at the end of the second round. In the third, another punch followed by a kick closed the gap to three points with a minute of the match to go. Ilgun increased her intensity with 30 seconds left, delivering a number of powerful kicks - however, none of them registered points. Lee soaked up the pressure and expertly hit on the counterattack, landing a kick to the body and to the head to win gold with a very professional 18-8 win. The bronze medals were won by Canada’s Skylar Park and USA’s Anastasija Zolotic.

The last final of the night was between Da-bin Lee of Korea and Briseida Acosta of Mexico. Both fighters showed their intent early on as they tried to land crescent kicks to the head. Acosta was the first to register points as she landed a power punch to the body and followed up with a kick to the body. Lee replied with a kick to the body to slash Acosta’s lead just before the end of the first round. In the second round Acosta landed another monster punch but a gam-jeom kept the difference in scores to just one point. Lee evened the scores at 4-4 just before the close of the second round with a punch to the body. As the third got underway, the head kick continued to prove elusive for Acosta but Lee did not fail in her attempt to land a kick to the body and took the lead for the first time in the match. Two gam-jeoms gave Lee an 8-4 lead with 30 seconds remaining. Acosta was so close to at last landing the headshot she craved, but in doing so left herself exposed to the counter and Lee landed a kick to the body to win the match 10-4. Gabriele Siqueira of Brazil and Poland’s Aleksandra Kowalczuk shared the bronze medals.

The M-58kg final was contested by 2019 World Champion Jun Jang of Korea and Jesus Tortosa Cabrera from Spain. Highly unusually - for Jang in particular is a high scorer - the pair demonstrated a wide range of techniques but neither was able to land them effectively. The first round finished scoreless. As Tortosa Cabrera attempted to force the issue in the second round he committed a number of gamjeoms and the round finished 2-0 to Jang. The final round saw more of the same with both fighters trying valiantly to land but successful kicks proved elusive and further gam-jeoms for both players saw the match finish 3-2 to Jang. The bronze medalists were Tae-hun Kim of Korea and Russia’s Mikhail Artamonov.

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DAY 3 WT President Choue Meets CONI President Malago in Rome The ever-entertaining Maksim “Red Machine” Khramtcov of Russia and Raul Martinez Garcia of Spain met in the last final of the Grand Prix. Khramtcov landed a punch to the body to take a one-point lead in the first round. A front kick to the head in the second round brought the score to 4-0. But as the fight threatened to get away from Martinez Garcia, he landed a kick to the head followed by a punch and another kick to the head to go 7-4 up in the space of a few seconds. With combat now in full swing, Khramtcov responded with a crescent kick to even the scores at 7-7. The intensity continued in the third round. Khramtcov landed a kick to the body again - only for Martinez Garcia to respond with one of his own and even the scores once again. With 30 seconds remaining the scores were tied 10-10. Khramtcov took the initiative and landed a punch-head kick combination. Martinez Garcia attempted spinning back kicks to get back into the fight but on both occasions failed to land and hit the mat in the process giving away two gam-jeoms. Khramtcov won the match 16-10. Achraf Mahboubi of Morocco and Rio 2016 gold medalist Cheick Sallah Cisse of Cote d’Ivoire won the bronze medals.

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Elizaveta Ryadninskaya and Jae-young Sim of Korea contested the first final of the night. In the first round the two fighters struggled to find the angle needed to land any points and it was their defences which came out on top. Ryadninskaya broke the deadlock 20 seconds into the second round with a kick to the head. She added to her lead with a punch at the beginning of the third round and followed up with another kick to the head to go seven points clear. Sim fought back, landing a head kick to take the score to 7-3. A punch from Sim reduced the point difference further but her progress was undone by a gam-jeom. Ryadninskaya took gold, winning 8-4. The bronze medals went to Miyu Yamada of Japan and Thailand’s Thi Kim Tuyen Truong.

Ahead of the Roma Grand Prix, World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue met with Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malago at the CONI headquarters in the Italian capital on June 6. The two discussed the development of taekwondo in Italy, which has seen significant growth in recent years, and Rome is now a popular and regular Grand Prix host. Malago spoke of the impact hosting the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Rome last year has had on the sport in Italy. Choue congratulated President Malago after Team Italy won their first-ever World Championship title last month in Manchester. Choue also updated Malago on the successful World Taekwondo Demonstration Team tour of Italy which has seen them travel to Turin, Milan, Naples, Matera and Lecce. Malago committed to watching their Rome performance, and presented Choue with a commemorative Rome 1960 Olympic medal.

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POOMSAE MAKES GRAND PRIX DEBUT AT ROMA 2019 The second day of the inaugural Poomsae Grand Prix saw Korea, Mexico and Italy win the gold, silver and bronze medals of the Freestyle Pair over 17, respectively. All three duos delivered exceptional performances which drew huge applause from the packed crowds at the Foro Italico Arena.

In a first for the Grand Prix Series, a poomsae event took place in Rome alongside the kyorugi to showcase the non-combat discipline. Yuhan Lin of Chinese Taipei won gold in the Freestyle Individual Male over 17 and Ji-young Lee of Korea won the Freestyle Individual Female over 17. 68

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ATHLETE IN FOCUS Da-Bin Lee

Muscle to the Max T aekwondo is a sport which combines speed, skill and power. There are many different ways to win a match but for Korea’s recently crowned Grand Prix Champion Da-bin Lee, power is a major priority. Lee won gold at the Roma 2019 WT Grand Prix, overcoming Briseida Acosta of Mexico 10-4 in the W+67kg final. It was Acosta who showed the early promise, going 3-2 up in the first round. The second round finished 4-4 but in the final round Lee stepped up a gear as she landed a series of kicks on the counter to take the gold medal. It was a result Lee was very proud of - not least because of her concerns about not having enough time to train following the World Taekwondo Championships in Manchester in May. In Manchester, Lee was competing in the W-73kg, which she finds easier as her opponents are not as tall or powerful. And indeed, when the smoke had cleared, she was world champ. In the Grand Prix, however, which features Olympic categories, she fights at W+67kg. That puts her face to face with the biggest hitters in the women’s category. “At the next Grand Prix in Chiba there will be more powerful athletes who come so I want to do more weight training,” Lee said. “I want to train more for the physical side.” Competing in the heavyweight category, it is perhaps not surprising that power is a key focus for Lee. With fighters often falling into the clinch, it is critical that they do not allow their opponents to out-muscle them. Yet taekwondo is more than just a physical sport - a fact that Lee, who came back from behind against Acosta, is very aware of.

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“In the fight [against Acosta] I overcame on the mental side. Before that competition, when I was in a bad situation, it was hard for me to overcome it. But against Acosta I came from behind and achieved on the mental side.” This combination of physical grunt work and mental resilience training is time consuming but such is the lot of champions. “I train in the morning for two hours and in the afternoon for another two hours. When I practise taekwondo, I feel very happy. Once a week I self-train after dinner. When I am self-training it is just image training.” Tall and leggy, one technique she dedicates a lot of time to in training is the head kick. “My favourite kick is the higher kick. Especially when the body score is not so good, like it was in Rome, I try more head kicks. I am very good in the short distance. I am fast. I try to make opponents keep guessing as I move quickly.” This dedication is driven by her love of taekwondo, a sport which she has been practising since middle school when her best friend inspired her to take it up. But now, it is the drive for success which motivates her most. “When I get a gold medal - that feeling makes me very happy,” she exalted. Tokyo 2020 features prominently in her pursuit of happiness. “My first goal is to qualify,” she said - no easy task, given the wide and deep talent pool Korean selectors can dip into. “If I get that, I want to get gold at Tokyo Olympics.”

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ATHLETE IN FOCUS Ruslan Zhaparov

Athlete, Fighter, Gentleman All athletes, in any sport, compete to win. It is that competitive lust for victory which inspires last-second comebacks, dramatic upsets and excites crowds. But taekwondo is about more than winning. It is also about respect and sportsmanship. Nowhere in the Roma 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix were those values made clearer than at the conclusion of the M+80kg semi-final fight between Kazakhstan’s Ruslan Zhaparov and Great Britain’s Mahama Cho. Cho was leading in the second round but a thirdround burst from Zhaparov saw the Kazakhstani reverse the situation and make it through to his first-ever Grand Prix final. After the fight, the two fighters drew widespread support from the crowd as they embraced on the field of play - demonstrating that there can be moral victory in both winning and losing. The friendship between the pair was apparent - but Zhaparov is clear on the need to show respect to all, not just some, fighters. “It is a sport; we are not enemies,” he said. “Respect is very important. Taekwondo is a beautiful sport, we have to respect each other.” Zhaparov and Cho have fought many times. Cho won on the last occasion during the London 2017 World Taekwondo Grand Prix, but Zhaparov went into his Rome fight feeling confident that he could avenge that last defeat. “Cho is seven years older than me. After the fight he said to me I had grown up a lot since we last met. He

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said I had progressed well over the last two years. He is very good; I respect him.” Cho reiterated this when speaking to the Recap Show. In his usual humble style the big Brit said, “Zhaparov was much better than me on the day; technically and physically. He was absolutely clinical in every aspect.” Unfortunately for Zhaparov he was not able to strike as clinically in the final against Vladislav Larin. The Russian took the gold, but that did not stop the Kazakh reflecting very proudly on what he had achieved. “It feels really good. It is my first Grand Prix medal. I am very happy. I feel like my work has paid off - it was amazing fights! One by one! And really difficult fights! It is a big experience for me. I am very happy.” The scale of his achievement is even greater when you factor in that Zhaparov has only returned to training in the last month following a fourmonth absence recovering from a broken hand. He is also staying positive about the lessons he can learn from his defeat in the final. “My coach says if you want to be the best you have to beat the best,” he mused. “It is a big experience for me and I will prepare for the next Grand Prix and aim to take the gold.”

Respect Rewarded: Zhaparov, Cho Win Special Recognition

As a full-contact, high-impact, combat sport, respect is arguably more critical in taekwondo than in more genteel sports. That respect was recognized on June 8 when WT President Chungwon Choue presented Kazakhstan’s Ruslan Zhaparov and Mahama Cho of Great Britain with Sportsmanship Awards. The special awards were presented in recognition of an outstanding display after their semi-final clash at the Roma 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix. The two fighters met in the +80kg category; Zhaparov emerged victorious. However, the fight was just as memorable for the events that took place following the final buzzer as those that took place before it. The Kazakh and Brit warmly embraced at the end of the match then both dropped to the floor in the centre of the mat to perform a short prayer. The crowd, realizing something special was underway, applauded the spectacle.

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ATHLETE IN FOCUS Elizaveta Ryadninskaya

In her first major battle in the senior division, a Russian rookie won decisively against a highly experienced opponent in Rome. The final of the W-49kg category looked like a foregone conclusion. In the red: Jae-young Sim, a mainstay of the Korean women’s team, a double World Champion. World rank: 4. In the blue: Elizaveta Ryadninskaya of Team Russia, a rookie barely out of the juniors, whose biggest win was a Buenos Aires Youth Olympics gold. World rank: 22. But in sport, nothing is certain. Round 1 proved to be a cagey business. The Russian had the longer legs – and the most vocal support from her teammates in the crowd – but the Korean had fancier, circling footwork. Both fighters were on the bounce, flicking out front-leg kicks, throwing punches, and falling into the clinch, but neither were committing and neither scored. The first round ended 0-0. In the second, Ryadninskaya found

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the range with a big, arcing crescent kick to Sim’s head that netted her three points. Sim responded with kicks to the body and attempts at head shots, but was not able to make the distance against the leggy Russian, who was dominating the center of the mats and keeping her front foot busy. This forced Sim to circle around in defense, and try and break into range to attack – to no avail. The round ended 3-0 to the young Russian. Round 3 would be a classic. It started fast, with both players firing off head kicks. Sim was putting the pressure on, but in a too-fast-to-see-it exchange, Ryadninskaya connected, picking up another point. Sim was now on the attack – moving forward, pushing and kicking off the push. But the Russian’s distance-management was spot on and by attacking, Sim was forced to commit – putting herself in the danger zone. With one minute and 20 seconds left on the clock, in a close-range exchange, Ryadninskaya’s rear leg round kick snaked up and around to the back of Sim’s head. Hit! Now the Russian was 7-0 ahead. Sim had to act decisively. She final-

ly round the distance with a front-leg hooking kick that flicked up to Ryadninskaya’s face for three points, meaning that, with a minute left to play, the score was 7-3 to the Russian. The ante upped once again. Sim unleashed kick-punch combos, while Ryadninskaya continued to ply her long, dangerous crescent kick up high. But that arcing head kick granted Sim an opening: She evaded and buried her fist into Ryadninskaya’s torso protector, gaining another point, raising her score to 4-7. But her point rally did not last. Sim made a mistake, falling in the clinch, so losing a point on gam-jeom. Sim’s coach demanded a video replay. With just 13 seconds left on the clock, both fighters were granted a breather before the final showdown. After the judges checked the slow-motion replay, the point stood, leaving the score 8-4 to Ryadninskaya. The final seconds were marked by a desperate, all-out attack by Sim, but the young Russian held her ground, gave as good as she got, and took gold with an 8-4 victory over a highly experienced opponent. Compounding her win was the tough trail she had battled through to reach the final. Prior to facing Sim, Ryadninskaya had dispatched four opponents, including three big names: 2016 Rio gold medalist So-hui Kim of Korea; France’s highly experienced Yasmina Aziez; and Japan’s Asian Games bronze medalist Miyu Yamada. Still, Ryadninskaya’s response to the biggest victory of

her career was not exuberance. Instead of jubilating, she offered a clinical analysis. “I am very happy about this, but I know that we cannot stop,” she said. “We need to work, correct mistakes, and move on.” The Moscow native started taekwondo in her second year at school “after my friend showed me a few kicks.” She committed to the sport, found a talent, and started to compete. In addition to her Rome win, Ryadninskaya won gold at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018, and medaled at the Belgium Open in 2019. These successes, plus her surprise win at the Roma Grand Prix, make the promising young senior a welcome injection of new blood into Team Russia’s squad. She is well placed. In last year’s fighting season, Russia garnered more overall medals than any other team, and is now widely recognized as a powerhouse, with a men’s squad that boasts the deadly trio of Alexey Denisenko, Vladislav Larin and Maksim Khramtcov. What is behind Team Russia’s rise? “I think because the team is very close-knit, has a great desire to work,” she said. “Also, the coaching staff is very strong, ready to support and guide everyone.” Russia is also one of the friendliest teams in the game. “All the guys of the national team are excellent, friendly, and responsive,” she said. “I’m good with everyone!” Her favorite fighter at present is fellow Russian Vladislav Larin, but on the women’s side, she admires Team Great Britain’s double Olympic gold medalist. “I love the work of Jade Jones: She has strong kicks, the right tactics, and character,” Ryadninskaya said. “Despite all her merits, she does not stop, she is quiet and does not elevate herself over others.” So what lies in the future for the Russian wunderkind? “I’m interested in taekwondo; I want to connect my future with it,” she said - but in a nod to singing aspirations added: “My dream in the future will get on [audition show] ‘The Voice.’” Despite her young age and competitive successes, Ryadninskaya’s feet are planted on firm ground. Asked to name her best-ever fight, she responded: “I can’t say it as there are no perfect fights… in every fight, there are mistakes and misses.” In the near-term, she is concentrating on “the next competition.” In the mid-term, she is eyeing Tokyo 2020. Beyond that, she is staying mum. “It is very difficult to talk about plans, as they depend not only on me,” she said. “But I plan to continue to be engaged and to put all of my soul into this sport.”

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In Historic First, Taekwondo Gladiators Honored in Colosseum Roma 2019 WT Grand Prix heroes enjoy unique moment in ancient world’s most famed arena

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t was one for the history books. On June 9, World Taekwondo staged the first-ever medal ceremony of a modern sport inside arguably the world’s most famous sporting structure - the Colosseum in Rome. Medalists from the Roma 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix posed with their prizes inside the nearly 2,000-year-old amphitheatre, on a location where the bloody gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome were once fought, watched by emperors and jeered and cheered at by the crowd. Athletes in attendance included Jun Jang from Korea, Jesus Tortosa Cabrera from Spain, Matea Jelic from Croatia, Hedaya Malak from Egypt, Shuai Zhao from China, Ruslan Zhaparov of Kazakhstan, Hatice Kubra Ilbun from Turkey, and Anastasija Zolotic from USA. They were joined by WT officials including WT President Chungwon Choue.

It was the first time such an event had been hosted inside the Colosseum; the ceremony had been arranged by Italian Taekwondo Federation President and World Taekwondo Council Member Angelo Cito. The occasion was marked by a short performance of the World Taekwondo Demonstration Team. WT President Chungwon Choue, who joined the athletes on the day, was affected by the ambience.

“Standing here, you are struck by history: As you look around you can imagine what the atmosphere must have been like when it was full of tens of thousands of cheering Romans,” Choue said. “And over the last three days, during the Roma 2019 World Taekwondo Championships, we witnessed first-hand the noise the people of this city can make when supporting athletes.” Prudently, the WT head added, “Thankfully our sport is a lot safer than what took place here in the Colosseum nearly 2,000 years ago...!”

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WT Demo Team: Italian Tour 2019 World Taekwondo's high-flying ambassadors astonished audiences in Turin, Milan, Naples, Matera, Lecce and Rome Photos provided by Italian Taekwondo Federation

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In foretaste of Tokyo 2020, Grand Prix hits Japan for first time ever

Christian McNeish of Team GB took on Iran’s Mirhashem Hosseini in the final. The two would give the crowd a superb, high-scoring battle. The Brit scored first with a body kick as the Iranian advanced, sounding his war cry. Then Hosseini landed a head kick on the counter, felling McNeish and going 4-2 up. McNeish landed a head kick but fell, bringing the score to 6-6. More head kicks! More falls! More action! Round 1 ended 11-9 to McNeish. Round 2 saw intense clinches with both seeking to land close-in head kicks. The Brit took a 13-9 advantage before the Iranian fell after a punch to the jaw. After a video replay, the board was adjusted to 10-13. In intense action, McNeish finished the round 15-14 up. In the third, both were still alive with energy. Both landed head kicks; the board hit 19-19. Another punch to the face saw the referee flash his red card as Hosseini struggled to rise. The score was 20-19 to the Iranian. With one minute left, Hosseini engaged top gear. In whirlwind combat, Hosseini went to 2520, then 27-20, then 31-20 thanks to both head kicks and falls by McNeish. With 25 seconds left, the British coach called a video replay. Denied. McNeish was finally looking tired: he tried a flying kick but fell. Result: Gold to Hosseini with a tremendous 36-20 victory. Korea’s Dae-hoon Lee and Edival Pontes of Brazil took home bronzes.

-68kg

CHIBA, Japan

Sept. 13-15, 2019

DAY 1

-57kg

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In the final, Nada Laaraj of Morocco took on Hatice Kubra Ilgun of Turkey. Round 1 saw both fighters feeling each other out, but despite brief flurries, neither connected. The first ended 0-0. The Turk looked more dangerous as the second got underway, nearly scoring with a long head kick but Laaraj, leaning well back, kept out of danger. Round 2 also ended on an empty scoreboard. In the third, Laaraj landed a body kick for two points and the Turk was penalized for a low kick, putting the Moroccan 3-0 ahead. Kubra Ilgun sought to launch a big shot but Laaraj controlled the distance with a front leg jab and clinches. The seconds counted down. The score was 3-1 to the Morrocan. A video replay was called with just two seconds remaining – no score. Had Laaraj won it? Action resumed. The Turk unleashed a long, high round kick at the Moroccan’s head. Boom! Connection! The last-second strike gave Kubra Ilgun a 4-3 victory, a gold medal and a superb end to a mediocre bout. Phannapa Harnsujin of Thailand and Tatiana Kudashova of Russia won bronzes.

In the final, triple World Champion Bianca “Queen Bee” Walkden of GB faced Rio Olympic Champion Shuyin “The Beautiful Giraffe” Zheng of China. These two have clashed many times, but at this year’s Worlds, Walkden kept her title, setting the scene for a grudge match in Chiba. Walkden attacked immediately with side kicks, then landed a punch for a one-point lead in a far faster start than her regular pace, then – bang! Another punch from Walkden – and yet another. A body kick raised her score 5-0, where the round ended. In the second, Zheng was more active, but Walkden did not yield an inch; the second ended 5-1 to the Queen Bee. In the third, Walkden appeared to have a problem with her leg. Zheng attacked and raised her score to two points – then an out-of-nowhere round kick shaved Walden’s head guard. Suddenly, it was 5-5. So - golden round. Walkden stormed forward with jackhammer sidekicks. Zheng timed her counter – a round kick to the torso – perfectly: two points for the win and the gold. Svetlana Osipova of Uzbekistan and Maria “Fist of Fury” Espinoza of Mexico won bronzes.

+67kg

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DAY 2

+80kg

-58kg The final of the category presented two of the top players from two of the top teams in the game: Jun Jang of Korea versus Armin Hadipour Seighalani of Iran. Round 1 started slowly, with neither player committing – then the Iranian landed to the body for two points. He started head hunting and landed a wickedly fast shot to go 5-0 up. Yet more trouble followed for Jang as he tumbled, losing another point. Finally, Jang connected to the body for two points with a relaxed-looking kick. Now he had found the range, he followed with another. Round 1 ended 6-4 to Hadipour Seighalani. 90

The second got underway with some nice work at multiple ranges, with the referee letting the play flow. Oddly, despite a high kick rate from both fighters, the round ended with minimal change: 7-5 to the Iranian. In the third, Jang equalized with a long side kick to the torso: 7-7. Then, in a brilliant bit of leg control, Jang landed two arcing head hits – one from each side – with the same leg. The audience gasped; Jang’s score soared to 13. Then, a long, chopping kick to the Iranian’s face raised Jang’s score to 16 points – before the Iranian, counterattacking fast, chased him out of the area, raising his own score to nine points. A video replay request by Iran was ineffectual – but Hadipour Seighalani landed a high kick after play recommenced, rising to 12 points. The clock ticked and it was all action, with kicks flying from every angle. It finished 22-14 and gold for Jang, after a scorching finale that made up for the lackluster early rounds. Bronzes went to Adrian Vicente Yunta of Spain and Vito Dell’Aquila of Italy.

-67kg

Russia’s Vladislav Larin took on Kyo-don In of Korea for gold in the heavyweight category. Larin had the height advantage but In – nicknamed “The Bear” – looked more powerful. Larin opened the scoring to the body almost immediately. In close range, In equalized with a heavy-looking kick, before losing a point for not fighting. Then Larin fell. Both men were on three points – where the round ended. Round 2 was a war of nerves, with both faking and landing glancing kicks. The round ended 3-3. For the third time this evening, all would be decided in the third. It started fiercely. Larin probed forward, forcing In back and landing a punch, going 4-3 up. Another punch and Larin was 5-3. In had to attack, but Larin controlled distance with his front leg jab. With just seconds left, In unleashed a heel hook kick that shaved Larin’s head – and won him both the fight, and the gold, 6-5. Masterly last-minute play by In, and a deserved silver for an unlucky Larin. Radik Isaev of Azerbaijan and Iran’s Sajjad Mardani had to be satisfied with bronzes.

Matea Jelic of Croatia took on France’s Magda Wiet Henin for the gold. The Croatian had the height advantage but the French fighter looked faster and landed to the body, going two points up. Jelic dominated the center of the mats and looked dangerous with a high kick, but Round 1 ended 2-0 to Wiet Henin. The pace slowed in the second as both maneuvered for advantage and probed. Jelic advanced, forcing the French fighter to dance around the perimeter of the mats. As the round neared its

end Jelic landed a spin back kick to the torso. Round 2 ended 4-4. Round 3 would, again, decide everything. Jelic attacked. Wiet Henin danced, unintimidated; a punch put her ahead by one point. With ten seconds left, the Croatian launched an all-out attack, but despite a head kick that looked like it connected, the board remained at 5-4, granting Wiet Henin her first Grand Prix gold. Bronzes were won by China’s Yunfei Guo and Uzbekistan’s Nigora Tursunkulova.

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DAY 3

-49kg

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The final pitted Panipak Wongpattanakit of Thailand against Jingyu “Superkicker” Wu of China. The latter, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is making a triumphant return to elite-level taekwondo after giving birth to a daughter. These two have clashed many times before – the last time at the Worlds in Manchester, where the Thai emerged with gold, Wu with silver. Wongpattanakit is tall and leggy; Wu is short but with versatile technique and a brilliant tactical radar. The two started off slowly before the Thai scored with a body kick and Wu returned fire with a clean head shot that – unluckily – did

not score. Wu went onto the offensive; Wong kept cool. From the clinch, the Thai landed a punch, and Wu attempted another head shot that fell short. Round 1: 3-0 to Wongpattanakit. In the second, Wu forced Wongpattanakit back, but not off the mats. Then the score soared as Wongpattanakit landed two head kicks, though a fall gave Wu a point. The board stood at 9-1 to the Thai. A penalty gave Wu another point, but it was successfully appealed. Round 2 ended 9-1 to Wongpattanakit. Wu now faced an uphill task. Again she thrust forward, looking faster and more dangerous than the Thai, but was not breaking the latter’s defences, her ax kick falling short by a hair’s breadth and her front-leg kick not scoring. A fall from the Thai gave Wu her second point, but it ended 9-2 to Wongpattanakit. It had been a professional tactical performance from Wongpattanakit, and an unlucky bout for Wu. Still, Grand Prix silver marks a landmark in her ongoing renaissance. Jae-young Sim of Korea and Tijana Bogdanovic of Serbia took home the bronzes.

-80kg

In the final of this super-competitive category, Maksim “Red Machine” Khramtcov of Russia took on Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan. It was a dream match. Both are physically gifted, technically versatile and hugely entertaining; the Azeri delivers flawless technique, while the Russian is noted for his unorthodox play. Could the bout deliver on its promise? It could – in spades. Combat started at a torrid pace with both going to the clinch and the Russian drawing first blood with a body kick. They briefly slowed down and the Azeri won a point via gam-jeom. The impact of a power kick could be heard across the width of the arena as the Russian went 4-2 up. Then the pace sped up. Both athletes unleashed kicks on mid- and high lines, and the board ended 10-10. The furious pace resumed in Round 2. Ax kicks flew and Beigi Harchegani drew ahead 12-10 – then it shifted 13-12 to Khramtcov. The crowd gasped at the audible thwacks of kicks impacting. The score seesawed and a picture-perfect head kick took Beigi Harchegani’s

score to 17-13. Both men were firing their entire arsenals: middle kicks, high kicks, spin kicks, clinch work. Incredibly, the Azeri landed a jump spinning heel kick - taekwondo’s most difficult blow – dropping Khramtcov. He got up and tried some jump spinning kicks of his own. A superb round for the Azeri, who ended 23-13 up. In Round 3 the Russian charged forward with a war cry, but the Azeri’s target radar was locked on and his score surged to 33-16. Khramtcov attempted to force him off the area, but the Azeri did not yield an inch. Punches, ax kicks and cut kicks flew in furious action and Khramtcov was penalised for grabbing Beigi Harchegani’s leg and punching. In the last 20 seconds the Russian pulled his score up with multiple kicks from all angles, but the point gap was too wide. The match – which resembled an action movie sequence more than a sporting bout – concluded 38-28 to Beigi Harchegani. It won a standing ovation. Toni Kanaet of Croatia and Anton Kotkov of Russia won bronze medals.

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ATHLETE IN FOCUS

Magda Wiet Henin

Punching above her Weight It was evening on Day 2 of Chiba Grand Prix, and the final of the W-67kg pitted Croatia’s Matea Jelic of Croatia against France’s Magda Wiet Henin. From ringside, it was clear that the Croatian had a significant height advantage – and from the opening seconds, Jelic dominated the centre of the field of play. But not only was the French fighter not intimidated, she opened the scoring with a torso kick, while her fast, never-stand-in-one-place footwork was a lot livelier than the Croatian’s. Jelic threatened with her head kick but Wiet Henin’s distancing kept her out of trouble. The round ended 2-0 to the French athlete. The pace slowed in the second as both probed each others’ defences. Jelic advanced, forcing the French fighter to dance around the perimeter of the mats, and the score board rose. As the round neared its end, Jelic landed a spin back kick to the torso. Round 2 ended 4-4; meaning Round 3 would decide everything. Jelic attacked. Wiet Henin danced out of danger – and deployed a thwacking punch that put her ahead by one point. With ten seconds left and just one point behind, the Croatian charged into all-out attack, but Wiet Henin kept cool and stuck to her game. Despite a last-second head kick attempt by Jelic, the board remained at 5-4 – giving Wiet Henin 94

her first-ever Grand Prix gold. So – unusually in taekwondo – it was a punch that won it. And punching is Wiet Henin’s DNA. Both her parents wield skilled fists: Her mother was a boxer, her father a boxer and mixed martial arts fighter. Their daughter, however, never pulled on the gloves. “My parents were both world champions, though they are retired now,” Wiet Henin said. “They never wanted me to do boxing – too rough! Taekwondo is more about strategy and spinning kicks; it is not as rough as boxing.” Even so, something must have been passed down, as her knuckles have become game-winning instruments. “At the end, I won it with the punch,” she said. “It was my second time to win with the punch!” Now 24, Wiet Henin started taekwondo at age six. Her skill was apparent, and she joined the French Junior National Team at 15, winning a gold at the World Junior Championships in Sharm El Sheikh in 2012. By age 18, she was on the French National Team, relocating from her home in Nancy to Paris to train full time. Now she is peaking: Her gold in Chiba follows a bronze at the Worlds in Manchester earlier this year. The Grand Prix win was particularly sweet for France, which had not won a gold in the series since 2015. In a sport where the financial rewards are few and where the fame is fleeting, the moment of victory in Chiba was worth a great deal. “The reward is to feel like someone

special,” Wiet Henin said. “That feeling is priceless.” The win was a particular delight for Wiet Henin’s mother. “My mom is really happy, she was crying,” Wiet Henin said. “She is normally at the Grand Prix; she knows the level of the fights; and she knows that my opponents are all taller and bigger than me.” Though Wiet Henin likes to practice taekwondo’s trademark spectacular moves – back kicks and spinning kicks – they are low-frequency weapons. “The fighters I have to fight are taller, so I have to control the fight with the front leg, and I have developed an explosive cut kick and follow up,” she said. Her modest height for her category requires her to play a conservative game – and against Jelic, there was a clear plan. “My coach said that, because she is bigger, I have to do no-risk actions, control the match and engage only when I am 100 percent sure,” she said. She has some advice for anyone taking on bigger opponents. “Don’t be scared! Their size does not mean they will win, it means you have to use other weapons,” she said. “Their weapon is size – we have a lot of different weapons.” One of those, of course, is the punch – a close-range weapon that favors smaller players. In terms of her own strengths, Wiet Henin mentions speed, precision and conditioning. “I can go three rounds and keep going, going and going,” she said – but

when asked to reveal her endurance routine, she countered with, “That’s a secret!” As she showed against Jelic, she can’t be intimidated. That is a result of mental conditioning. “We prepare for every match, so when I come, I know how to get ready in my head,” she said. Wiet Henin uses mental focus and breathing exercises to suppress pre-fight jitters. “I am not stressed – I know how to manage it,” she said. “I know what I have to do in my matches.” Like every athlete, she knows the career time window is only open for a limited time. “This is my passion,” she said. “I know this will not be my job in the future.” She is currently pursuing a masters degree in human resource management in Paris, though, given her preparations for Tokyo 2020, will not finish the degree this year. For now, she is loving the game. And not only is fighting in her blood, her boyfriend Dylan Chellamootoo is also on Team France, fighting at -68kg. “It’s a lot of fun,” she said. ‘I go everywhere with the team, my boyfriend with me - we go to China, the US and Japan.” Obviously, she is hoping to return to Japan next year for the “Greatest Show on Earth.” “I have dreamed about the Olympics since I was six,” she said. And it is not just her own dream: Her mother never got the chance to box in the Olympics but now may see her daughter kick her way to glory. “It was my mother’s dream,” Wiet Henin said. ”Now, it is my dream.”

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ATHLETE IN FOCUS

Mirhashem Hosseini

OUT OF THE DARKNESS 96

“For some seconds, I could not breathe,” Mirhashem Hosseini recalled of the moment when he found himself lying on the mats looking up at the ceiling of the venue at the Chiba Grand Prix. “Everywhere was dark.” The Iranian had been fighting in the final of the M-68kg when an accidental punch from his opponent, Great Britain’s Christian McNeish, slammed into his neck. Hossieni hit the mats. Hard. It was the second punch he had eaten in an intense, high scoring bout. “It was a very hard punch,” he said. “I felt a lot of pain.” Still, the light returned, breathing resumed and – as he had earlier – he struggled to his feet and shook off the effects of the strike. With his head cleared, he re-engaged his battle plan and shifted into top gear. It was the third round. A minute remained on the clock. The board stood at 20-19 to Hosseini, but with just a onepoint difference separating them, either fighter could come out on top. Hosseini was not prepared to play it safe and win a onepoint victory. In whirlwind combat, the Iranian started ringing up big scores: The board went to 25-20, then 27-20, then 31-20 as he fired multiple head kicks and McNeish hit the deck. With 25 seconds left, the Briton’s coach called a video replay. It was denied. McNeish, in a gallant effort to raise his points, attempted a flying kick but fell. End result: 36-20 and gold to Hosseini. The victory had more to do with good planning than good luck. “The strategy was all-out attack in the last minute,” Hosseini said in an interview the day after his win. “We saw McNeish’s earlier matches and I knew he kicks a lot but his energy comes down at the end, so we would fight in the third. That was our plan.” Coach Fariborz Askari was delighted. “Everything I wanted him to do, he did on the court,” he said. Chiba was just the latest big win

for Hosseini, a 20-year-old from the Iranian city of Mianeh who has stormed into the global spotlight over the last year. In 2018, he captured Asian Games gold in Jakarta; this year, he has won gold at the 2019 Roma Grand Prix and another gold at the Universiade in Italy. Having started the game at the age of nine after watching a Jackie Chan movie, Hosseini now has eleven years of experience under his third-dan black belt. On the physique front, he is custom-built for the game. He is tall for his category, with long legs. In the run up to the Olympics, Team Iran are in training camp 24-7, building endless endurance. His favorite technique is the arcing head kick, fired from up close. “In camp, we train the clinch a lot,” Hosseini said. “I try to find an opening – up or down, left or right. I have a lot of techniques in the clinch: I can kick both ways.” Even so, his main weapon is not inside the clinch – it is inside the head. “For me, the first thing is the mind,” Hosseini said. “In the camp, I am always thinking about the next competition, the next strategy, the next opponent – always thinking about attacking and defending.” In Rio, in 2016, the highly regarded and high-powered Iranian men’s team was expected to bring home a truckload of medals. To the surprise of the pundits and to the shock of Iranian taekwondo, they left Rio with none. “Rio was a very big surprise for us: For three years Iranian taekwondo was in shock,” admitted Askari. “Now, we are slowly growing up and waking up. We should use those bad dreams from Rio and change them.” Even so, Iranian taekwondo remains hugely competitive – as is clear from the level of expertize in Hosseini’s little hometown of Mianeh. “My city is a very small town, but the only medal we don’t have is an Olympic medal,” Hosseini said. “They have every other medal: Juniors, Cadets, Worlds, Grand Prix – everything! The dream is to get Olympic gold for the city.”

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Hatice Kubra Ilgun

ATHLETE IN FOCUS

Lean, Long and

Strong It looked set to be one of the dullest finals in recent months. But in taekwondo, matters can change in an instant. It was Day 1 of the Chiba Grand Prix, and in the last match of the W-57kg category, Hatice Kubra Ilgun of Turkey stalked onto the mats to do battle with Nada Laaraj of Morocco for the gold. Round 1 saw both fighters feeling each other out in a slow-paced start. Despite brief flurries of action, neither connected and the first ended 0-0. As the second got underway, the Turk looked more dangerous – nearly scoring with a head kick fired from long range. But Laaraj, leaning well back, kept out of danger. Round 2 also ended on an empty scoreboard. The crowd was not making much noise. Only in the third round would this match finally pick up. Laaraj landed a body kick for two points, then the Turk was penalized for a low kick. The Moroccan was now 3-0 ahead. Kubra Ilgun had to fight forward. She sought to launch a big shot but Laaraj controlled the distance with a front leg jab and, when the Turk passed her guard, went to the clinch, stymying the Turkish athlete and eating time. It was a sound tactical game, and Kubra Ilgun was clearly getting frustrated. She picked up one point, but the clock was ticking. With just two seconds remaining, a video replay was called. The judges perused their screens, stood and crossed their arms. No score. The board stood at 3-2 to Laaraj. Surely, Laaraj had won it? Action resumed. With no time to maneuver or close the distance, the Turk unleashed a long, high round kick to the Moroccan’s head. Boom. Connection! Game over. That last-second reversal of fortune gave Kubra Ilgun a 4-3 victory, a gold medal – and a superb end to what had been a mediocre bout. “One second!” Kubra Ilgun recalled. “I can’t believe it, but at that moment I was hearing the signal and – I was so happy!” Still the end result had not been a given. It had not been an easy fight.

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”It was the first time I had had a match with her,” the Turk said of Laaraj.”She was tough.” On the mats, things had not gone according to plan, Kubra Ilgun admitted: She and Laaraj were cancelling each other’s techniques out. So how did she know what to do in that last critical moment? “My coach, Technical Director Ali Sahin, told me her body side was closed and she was defending the body, so I had to bring the knee up and kick to the head,” she recalled of the last-second guidance. “I believe in myself – I can’t explain my emotions! – it was like it was impossible. But I got it!” For Kubra Ilgun, it was a career milestone: Her first Grand Prix gold. Now 26, she started taekwondo 14 years ago though a family contact. Now a member of the world-beating Turkish women’s squad, she has, in addition to her gold from Chiba, a 2017 World Championship

silver from Muju, a 2018 Universiade gold from Taipei and a 2018 European Championships silver from Kazan under her second dan black belt. As a fighter she focuses on the mental game. “You have to be ready before matches: After that, comes technique and skill,” she said. “I always make myself calm down as I am always thinking – I want too much! – so I want to be cool.” She also has the perfect physical attributes. “My advantages are that my legs are very long, and I am strong and slim,” she said in a self–assessment. Moreover, she has a capacity for serious training. “I work hard! And I know that everything is possible if you want it, you can do it. I believe that.” As a tall leggy fighter she does not like the clinch game, preferring to settle matters in open play. Her favorite weapons are the crowd-pleasing round kick and back

kick: Classic old-school techniques. Naturally her eyes are focused on Tokyo. “Now I am sixth ranked, but after this gold medal I will go to third rank,” she said. Even so, she plans to make certain of her berth by fighting in both Sofia and Moscow – the two last Grand Prix events before next year’s 2020 Olympic Games. “I am really hard working,” she said. “And I really want to be there.” A medal at Tokyo would be a life changer. Ankara awards successful European, World or Olympic medal-winning athletes with monetary compensation and post-career coaching positions. ”That is good for building my future,” she said. “Taekwondo is not that famous, and that makes me a little sad for the taekwondo family – we are as hard working as any football player,” she said. But then she added: “I will fight under the Turkish national flag! That is more important to me than money.”

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Chiba Mayor Earns 6th Dan Black Belt

Tokyo 2020 Test Event in Chiba Goes According to Plan

World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue presented an honorary 6th dan black belt to Chiba City Mayor Toshihito Kumagai at the Makuhari Messe Hall in recognition of his contribution to the sport on Sept. 28. Chiba, a coastal suburb of Tokyo, hosted Japan’s first-ever World Taekwondo Grand Prix in September and will be the home of the taekwondo competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Choue and Kumagai discussed matters necessary for the successful delivery of the Olympic taekwondo and Paralympic para taekwondo competitions next year, and also discussed the taekwondo test events for Tokyo 2020, which were successfully held on Sept. 27 and 28. “We appreciate your huge support - all the World Taekwondo family expect to see successful events in 2020,” Choue said. “Therefore, I am delighted to present the honorary 6th dan black belt certificate to you today.” Mayor Kumagai responded: “During the Chiba Grand Prix, not only myself, but also about 300 children who watched the WT Demonstration team’s awe-inspiring performance at [a local] elementary school, were hugely delighted. We learned the true value of taekwondo. We will do our best to be one of the best event hosts in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

World Taekwondo held a two-day test event over Sept. 2728 in Chiba, Japan, for both regular and para taekwondo. The event trialed a series of innovations that will be showcased at Tokyo 2020 when the world’s best athletes come together to compete for Olympic and Paralympic glory. Kyorugi athletes competed in the M-58kg and W-49kg categories for the first time wearing the brand new, hightech uniforms which will be used during the Olympic Games. The uniform was developed following interviews with athletes and meetings of the Technical & Development Committee and Athletes Committee during the 2018 and 2019 Grand Prix Series and Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships. The uniforms were presented in a showcase at the World Championships in May. The new competition uniforms, which attach to the arm and shin guard, have been designed to be more practical for athletes and more fan and media-friendly. One innovation that was not tested during the test event but that will be used at Tokyo 2020 was the 4D camera rig that was pioneered at the Wuxi Grand Slam series. The 4D cameras provide 360-degree, “Matrix”-style views of the action. The cameras not only showcase taekwondo’s most spectacular techniques for fans, they also provide ultra-accurate video replays for referees at the edge of the field of play, eliminating all blind spots. “The test event was a great success and only heightens our excitement for Tokyo 2020,” said WT President Chungwon Choue.


The president of the Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation stated that his country’s significant investments in the sport are a gift to the youth of his country, while the president of World Taekwondo revealed upcoming innovations ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The two were speaking, together with some of the world’s top taekwondo athletes, at a press conference held on Oct. 17, the day prior to the World Taekwondo Grand Prix Sofia – branded “Best of the Beasts” – kicked off its three-day run at the Exhibition Forum Event Center at the city’s landmark Hotel Marinela. It is the first time the elite World Taekwondo Grand Prix series has come to Bulgaria – which in 2020 also hosts the World Taekwondo Junior Championships. Bulgaria considers hosting taekwondo events a gift for the future. “We have government support, we have the support of the whole country,” said President of the Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation Slavi Binev. “This is the best investment ever in the future of our country and our athletes – we will try to build a model for our youngsters to follow.” The Grand Prix will be a test event for the World Juniors and will also present new opportunities for Bulgarian players. The Bulgarian federation next year celebrates its 30-year anniversary. Bulgarian players have not yet medaled in a Grand Prix event, but hope to leverage hometown advantage. “I am very happy that one of the best and most difficult tournaments is here in my homeland,” said Bulgarian athlete Vladimir Dalakliev. “In the past we have

had difficulties traveling abroad, but this is our homeland and this is where we will do our best and achieve great results.” World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue, who had earlier met Bulgarian Minster of Youth and Sports Minister Krasen Kralev, discussed some innovations to come at Tokyo 2020. Some of the world’s top players were also on hand at the press conference. Team Korea’s Dae-hoon Lee – arguably, the top fighter in the male game at present – noted that, given the rise of formidable, young competitors, he could no longer rest on his laurels. “I was at the top level, but I think it is a positive thing that a lot of rivals can compete with me,” he said. “I am also learning a lot of things from young players, so this is a positive thing.” Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist Shuyin “The Beautiful Giraffe” Zheng of Team China was asked to comment on her fierce rivalry with Team Great Britain’s Bianca Walkden. “Bianca is a great opponent and a rival for me,” she said. “She makes me practice more during my training time.” Walkden’s best friend and roommate, double Olympic champion Jade “The Welsh Wonder” Jones, was asked about her ambition of winning a third gold in Tokyo – which would be a historic feat no other taekwondo fighter has yet achieved. “It is amazing to have a chance to do something nobody has done before, that is why I get up in the morning, that is why I am here and that is why I am training,” she said. “I believe it can be me! I will put my heart and soul into trying to do that.”

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The final pitted Korea’s multiple World Champion Dae-hoon Lee against China’s 2016 Olympic Champion Shuai Zhao. Lee had been racking up stratospheric points all day, but it was Zhao who opened the score with body kicks, while keeping a tight, cagey defense with excellent blocks. Round 1 ended 4-0 to Zhao. In the second, Lee added pressure, fighting forward and trying head shots, but it was Zhao who scored, before Lee grabbed a point with a punch. Action grew intense, but Zhao continued sniping accurately, and the round ended 13-4. In the third, Lee continued to do maximum work for minimal returns: He raised his points to six, while Zhao extended his to 15. An IVR request by Lee’s coach proved fruitless. Lee maneuvered Zhao to the edge of the mats, furiously kicking with both legs; Zhao, unhittable, landed yet another body kick. The board rose to 17-7 before both tumbled and the match ended on that score – granting Zhao a remarkable gold over Lee, a fighter of near-legendary talent. Iran’s Soroush Ahmadi and Chinese Taipei’s Yu-jen Huang won bronzes.

Team Korea had not struck gold in the first two finals, but was guaranteed it now: The final was a Korea-Korea battle of Tae-hun Kim versus team mate Jun Jang. However, this would be a real fight: Both fighters seek Olympic qualification. It started with fast tempo and clean, open taekwondo. Jang drew first blood, landing a long, arcing round kick to Kim’s head. Round 1 ended 3-0 to Jang. In the second, Kim looked aggressive, but impaled himself on Jang’s punch as he attacked; Jang then attacked and landed another. Kim, meanwhile, could not connect, and the round ended 5-0 in Jang’s favor.

In the third, Kim was dropped by Jang’s side kick. Jang now started varying his techniques, firing head and spinning kicks while controlling the distance. He landed a closerange head kick, but fell, giving Kim his first point. Still there was no question who was in control: The match ended on 12-1, with gold for Jang. Armin Hadipour Seighalani of Iran and Vito Dell’Aquila of Italy had to be satisfied with bronzes.

The final was another China-Korea clash: Lijun Zhou versus Ah-reum Lee. Both got straight down to business with minimal feeling out. Lee landed a punch for the first point, but Zhou stabbed in a short side kick to the body for two points, then added a third, ending the round 3-1. In the second, both fighters mirrored each other, firing kicks in open play. Lee landed another punch, then a fall from Zhou made it 3-3. More punches, more body kicks – and Round 2 ended 8-8. In the third both fighters added intensity. Zhou went to 10-8, before Lee equalized, then drew ahead, 12-11 – but only briefly. Zhou raised her score to 13-12, then 15-12 – where the match ended, giving the Chinese player her first-ever Grand Prix gold. Bronzes went to Tatiana Kudashova of Russia and Hatice Kubra Ilgun of Turkey. 104

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The final pitted Great Britain’s Lauren Williams against Cote d’Ivoire’s Ruth Gbagbi, two fighters known for explosivity. They have met many times before, producing smoking matches. Williams bulldozed forward with round kick-punch combinations. Driving the Ivoriean back, she landed a flying punch for the first point, added two more with a body kick, then overpowered Gbagbi who fell in mid-spin, raising her score to five points. Then, something extraordinary: Gbagbi’s flying reverse turning kick landed to Williams’ head. Score: 5-5. Amid a ferocious flurry, more athleticism: Gbagbi’s back kick-reverse turning kick to the head combination landed. Suddenly Gbagbi was 13 -6 up. In the second, Williams charged forward, head hunting. Gbagbi remained cool, but Williams’ punch was doing sterling work, as she forced Gbagbi to backpedal. An IVR was called by Gbagbi’s

coach, giving both fighters a break. As action resumed, feet and points flew fast and furious. Brilliant technique by Gbagbi – consecutive jump turning kicks – as an awesome pace was stet by Williams. Round 2 ended 18-16 to Gbagbi. The third was anyone’s game. Williams stabbed forward. Gbagbi shot back. 22-19. Gbagbi attacked; Williams tried to drop her ax to the head. A punch by Williams reverberated, but the board stayed in Gbagbi’s favor as she swerved and danced while somehow firing accurate kicks. In the last 20 seconds, Williams finally slowed. It ended 25-20, with gold for Cote d’Ivoire after a brilliant display of athleticism, tactics and cool-headedness by Gbagbi and superb aggression, intensity and stamina by Williams. Nur Tatar Askari of Turkey and Julyana Al-Sadeq of Jordan took the bronzes.

The final featured the biggest rivalry in the game: Bianca Walkden of Great Britain versus Shuyin Zheng of China. In their last two clashes, at the Manchester Worlds and the Chiba Grand Prix, they have both won one each. This could go either way. As always, Walkden started aggressively, stabbing forward as Zheng danced. Walkden landed a punch and Round 1 ended 1-0 to the Brit. In the second, Zheng proved less willing to give ground and there was fierce dueling. Walkden kicked, punched and closed to clinch, but the scores remained frozen until Zheng equalized with a penalty. Round 2 ended 1-1. In the third, Walkden kept Zheng on her back foot. Both connected but did not score; one error could change the game. Walkden scored as Zheng was pressed backward and in the last seconds, Zheng attacked. Amid torrid kicks, Zheng landed to the body – seizing gold with a 3-2 victory. Bronzes went to Milica Mandic of Serbia and Mi-na Myeong of Korea.

In the heavyweight final, Korea’s Kyo-don In took on Maicon Siqueira of Brazil. It started with a war of nerves: faking and probing. Round 1 ended 0-0. In Round 2 the Brazilian stabbed forward, chasing In, and finally there was action, but no score. Things returned to slow speed ahead. Both men were penalized for not fighting, then In suffered a gam-jeom for retreating. The second ended 2-1 to Siqueira, with neither fighter having yet landed a kick. In the third, the Brazilian finally scored a flick kick to the body. In now had to get busy. The two briefly battled. In added another point as the Brazilian went high, and fired his patented back kick. It failed to score, but the Brazilian was forced off the mats giving In a point. But it was too little, too late: It ended 4-3 to Siqueira. Hongyi Sun of China and Ivan Sapina of Croatia won well-deserved bronzes. 106

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In the final of the category, Korea’s 2016 Rio gold medalist So-hui Kim took on China’s Beijing 2008 and London 2012 gold medalist Jingyu “Superkicker” Wu of China. Wu is in the midst of the sport’s biggest-ever comeback, following a two-year layoff during which she gave birth to a daughter. Wu opened at lightning speed, appearing to surprise Kim and scoring immediately with one, then two body kicks. Kim returned fire with her own kick from open play, grabbing two points with a skipping side kick. Round 1 ended 4-2 to Wu. In the second, Kim attacked, trying to force Wu off the mats, but Wu stood her ground and stayed cool in the clinch. Wu side kicked and flicked out face kicks, then – as Kim attacked – executed a circular back step combined with a body kick - real technical mastery. Kim also landed, and Round 2 ended 6-4 to Wu. With just a two-point difference, either athlete could win it in Round 3. Wu stabbed in another side kick in to go to eight then to 10. Kim now had to advance. Wu backpedaled and bided her time before landing a perfect face kick to Kim – then another! The crowd started cheering. In the final seconds, Kim landed again, but the match ended 24-8 to Wu. Make no mistake: A taekwondo legend has returned. Bronzes were won by Tijana Bogdanovic of Serbia and China’s Yuntao Wenren.

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The final pitted Jordan’s Saleh Elsharabaty against Egypt’s Seif Eissa. Round 1 saw a swift start by both men as they fought to dominate center mats. Eissa unleashed his long front leg, alarming the Jordanian who employed some nifty footwork, and countered with a side kick and back kick, before the Egyptian landed a monster punch for the first point. Round 1 ended 1-0 to Eissa. In the second, the Jordanian shifted up a gear, landing two head kicks, and suddenly Eissa was in trouble. But he countered with a high round kick, for 5-6. The Jordanian nearly planted a back kick to Eissa’s face that drew gasps from the crowd, and Round 2 ended 6-5 to El-Sharabaty.

In the third, the Egyptian landed first, going up to eight with a spin kick; another heavy body shot and Eissa was on 10. Elsharabaty now needed to work; he ducked under the arcing leg of the Egyptian and continued plying his side kick. The Jordanian bought his score up to nine with a kick in the clinch and then a cobra-like round kick to the head, and 12 points rang up on the board. Elsharabaty exulted for a split-second, but battle continued as the seconds counted down. It ended 12-10 to the Jordanian, who dropped to his knees and raised his fists, celebrating his first Grand Prix gold. Icaro Miguel Martins Soares of Brazil and Moises Hernandez of Dominica took home the bronzes.

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Ruth Gbagbi

A new kick has been added to the arsenal of taekwondo: Let’s call it the “Ruth Gbagbi” kick. It was invented in mid-combat, in the final of the W-67kg at the Sofia Grand Prix. The Cote d’Ivorian fighter was engaged in torrid battle against the most ferocious fighter in the female division: Great Britain’s Lauren Williams. In Round 1, Williams bulldozed forward with round kickpunch combinations. Driving the Ivorianback, she landed a flying punch for the first point, added two more with a body kick, overpowered Gbagbi who fell in mid-spin, and raised her score to 5-0. Then it happened. Gbagbi, forced back to the edge of the mats, dived for cover and unleashed a jump reverse turning kick. Both feet were off the mats, and her kicking leg was higher than her head as her heel connected to Williams’ head protector. It was an extraordinary feat of athleticism – and doubly extraordinary for being fired, while under massive pressure, in the midst of battle. The scoreboard rang up 5-5. And Gbagbi was just getting started. In a ferocious flurry, Gbagbi let fly with a back kick-reverse turning kick to the head combination. Both landed. Suddenly the African fighter was 13 -6 up. In Round 2, Williams charged, head hunting and driving Gbagbi backward. Yet Gbagbi remained cool. Williams’ punch was doing sterling work, as she forced Gbagbi to backpedal. An IVR was called by Gbagbi’s coach, giving both fighters a break. Action resumed. Feet, fists and points flew fast and furious as yet more brilliant technique was displayed by Gbagbi – consecutive jump turning kicks, fired defensively from the edge of the mats. An awesome pace was being set by Williams, but Round 2 ended 18-16 to Gbagbi.

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The third was anyone’s game. Williams stabbed forward. Gbagbi shot back. 22-19. Gbagbi attacked; the Brit tried to drop her ax on the Ivoirian’s head. A punch by Williams reverberated around the arena, but the board stayed in Gbagbi’s favor as she kinked, swerved and danced while still, somehow, landing kicks. In the last 20 seconds, Williams finally slowed. The epic battle – some at ringside were calling it the best female fight they had ever seen – ended 25-20, with the gold going to Cote d’Ivoire. It had been a brilliant display of athleticism, instinctive fighting and cool-headedness by Gbagbi, amply overcoming the aggression, intensity and pace of Williams. “She is very powerful and very creative,” said Philippe Bouedo, the WT’s technical delegate to Tokyo 2020. “She has a full palette of techniques.” Looking back on her battle the following day, the 25-year-old from Abidjan admitted that she did not realize how awesome her fight had been: In the heat of combat Gbagbi, like most fighters, experienced tunnel vision. And her spectacular bootwork? All in a day’s work, apparently. “It was instinctive! I did not have a plan about that,” Gbagbi said of her Hollywood-style kicks. “When the action came, I reacted in that way. I did not really practice it…” Gbagbi has been practicing taekwondo for 16 years, first pulling on a dobok in 2003, following a cousin who was practicing taekwondo. The rest is history: She has been surging through the competition in what is arguably the most competitive category in the women’s division. She won an Olympic bronze in Rio in 2016, and has one World Championship title from Muju in 2017, two Grand Prix titles from Moscow 2017 and Sofia 2019, and one

Grand Slam win from Wuxi in 2017 under her belt. “I am a fighter!” she said. “The more difficult it is, the more I like it!” Assessing her own style, she cites cardio as a key strength. Technically, she likes double kicks, but admits she is an instinctive fighter rather than a tactician: “I don’t care about the opponent, I focus on myself, not the other.” Regarding the fearsome Williams, she said: “I was not intimidated, as I know her style. I knew what she would do straight away.” Among the male fighters in the game at present, she likes Team Russia’s Alexey Denisenko. “I like the way he fights, he is very clever, and he also likes the double kick.” Among the female fighters she cites Rio gold medalist So-hui Kim of Korea. “She is small for that category, she works the distance very well and she is very clever,” Gbagbi said. Gbagbi is currently ranked number eight in her division so

is focused on qualifying for Tokyo 2020: That means a grueling end-of-season schedule. Only after that is done will the Tokyo work-up begin. “Once I know I am qualified, then my coach will prepare a special program,” she said. Despite her athletic talents, and formidable fighting focus, Gbagbi is surprisingly soft spoken. Pundits and colleagues, however, are more than willing to sing her praises. “She is amazing! She is the reason we all love taekwondo: To see amazing players pull off amazing displays of athleticism,” said Team USA fighter Stephen Lambdin. “When you watch her kick it is like she is swinging a baseball bat! I absolutely would not want to fight her.” “She is the perfect aspect of taekwondo – we want to show people how exciting the game is!” added Bouedo. “In championships, some players minimize risk, but not Gbagbi. She has no limits.”

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Shuai Zhao

The Great Wall of China Team Korea’s Dae-hoon Lee is the most admired male player in the sport and on Day 1 of the Sofia Grand Prix he had been firing on all cylinders, consistently delivering match scores north of 30 points. Then, in the final of the M-68kg, the consummate attacking player came up against the consummate defensive player: Team China’s Shuai Zhao. As battle commenced, anyone who expected the Korean kicking machine to be the first to light up the scoreboard would be disappointed: It was the taller Chinese who opened the score with body kicks, while maintaining the distance and a tight, cagey defense with excellent blocks. Round 1 ended 4-0 to Zhao. In the second, Lee shifted into top gear, fighting forward and trying head shots, but, again, it was Zhao who scored, before Lee finally grabbed a point with a punch. Action grew intense, but Zhao kept cool and continued sniping accurately. The round ended 13-4. In the third, the pattern continued, with Lee doing maximum work for minimal return: He raised his points to six, while Zhao extended his to 15. A video replay request by Lee’s coach proved fruitless. A clearly discomfited Lee maneuvered Zhao to the edge of the mats, furiously kicking with both legs. But Zhao, unhittable, landed yet another body kick. The board rose to 17-7 before both tumbled in torrid action. The match ended on that score – granting Zhao a remarkable gold over Lee, a fighter of legendary stamina and stratospheric point-scoring abilities. “They have fought before in the Grand Slam and Lee beat Zhao like an old carpet, so this time, Zhao obviously prepared a game plan to execute,” said WT Director of Broadcast Operations John Cullen. “He kept Lee at the end of his long legs, he frustrated him and he has a great defensive style – the Great Wall of China!”

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The 24-year-old from Liaoning Province agreed. “My coach has a lot of experience, especially with Lee!” Zhao said the day after his match. “We learned a lot from him and we know his strong points. Lee is a great fighter, so defense was more important than attack.” Playing defense offered plentiful opportunities to impale the charging Korean on Zhao’s long legs. “When I defended, it was a good position to counter,” he said. “Also, a good defense can make an opponent lose his confidence and lose his spirit.” Assessing himself as a player, he cites his physical advantages –“ I am tall” – and the resultant tactical advantage –“I am good at distance control, so I know where the opponent is and where to attack.” His favorite blow is the high-scoring and crowd-pleasing spinning back kick – an ideal weapon for a defensive fighter. Still he does not always fight at long range: “For some opponents it is good to stay away, for some, it is better to stay in close.” The Grand Prix gold was yet another addition to Zhao’s trophy cabinet which already contains such precious metals as two World Championships golds – from Muju 2017 and Manchester 2019 – and of course, his Rio 2016 gold medal. That was a life changer. “Of course, there were changes, after that competition, a lot of people knew me,” he said. Returning home from Rio, he was inun-

dated with offers to join organizations and to participate in events; strangers came up to him on the street to greet him. The Rio win was doubly sweet for Zhao as his girlfriend, Shuyin Zheng, also won an Olympic title. Now, the two top guns of Team China are on a dual quest for Olympic gold medal number two at Tokyo. But although he is number-three ranked in the world, Zhao is not guaranteed a berth at the Olympics. While the top five Olympic ranked players can reasonably expect to get tickets to Tokyo, the points in his highly competitive category are so close that Zhao is going to have to kick his way through the Grand Prix Finals in Moscow and then the Grand Slam in Wuxi. That means he is not going to have a very relaxing year end, for even this defensive maestro admits to pre-match jitters. “I have to overcome nerves, I have to tell myself, to be confident, to not be afraid and to not get tense,” Zhao said. In all this, he turns to a trusted companion. Like Zheng’s great rival – Team GB’s Bianca Walkden, who works out with, and roars in-match tactical advice to her beau, Moldova’s Aaron Cook – Zhang’s relationship with Zhao extends beyond the romantic to the professional. “During training we always stick together,” he said. “During matches, she makes me more confident. She inspires me a lot.”

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Saleh El-Sharabaty

Jordan Rising It is impossible to name the best category in the game at present, but by any standard, the M-80kg should be a serious contender– and the division’s final at the Sofia Grand Prix was especially interesting. With the three key fighters in the category – Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan, Cheick Sallah Cisse of Cote d’Ivoire and Maksim Khramtcov of Russia – all skipping Sofia, the field was wide open. After a day of combat, two warriors stepped onto the mats to do battle for gold: Jordan’s Saleh Elsharabaty and Egypt’s Seif Eissa. While the Egyptian had the height advantage, the Jordanian looked stronger. Both had been delivering blistering bouts all day. And the two know each other well. “Seif and I have played many times – this is the fifth time – and we know each other too well: I know this kick, he knows that kick,” said El-Sharabaty. “He is very good player, very fast and very tall. The plan was stay focused and don’t give away any points.” In fact, that plan was to go awry in Round 1. The match saw a swift start by both men as they fought to dominate the center of the mats. Eissa unleashed his long front leg, alarming the Jordanian who employed some nifty footwork, and countered with side and back kicks. But it was the Egyptian who landed a monster punch for the first point, and Round 1 ended 1-0 to Eissa. In the second, the Jordanian shifted up a gear, landing two head kicks. Suddenly, Eissa was in trouble – but he countered with a high round kick, for 5-6. The Jordanian appeared to plant a wicked spinning back kick to Eissa’s face that drew gasps from

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the crowd, but it did not score, and Round 2 ended with a close 6-5 to El-Sharabaty. “When we played before, I did that kick and it scored,” Elsharabaty said of his face strike in the second. “Not this time!” In the third, the Egyptian landed first, going up to eight with a spin kick; another heavy body shot and Eissa was on 10 points. Elsharabaty now needed to work. He ducked under the arching leg of the Egyptian and continued plying his side kick. He brought his score up to nine with a kick in the clinch, and then landed a cobra-like round kick to the head. Twelve points rang up on the board and Elsharabaty exulted for a split-second at the success of his special weapon. “Coach said, before we got into the match, that this kick – down and then into the face! – would score,” said the Jordanian. “So I kept it hidden for the last seconds!” Battle continued at a furious pace as the seconds counted down, but it ended on 12-10 to the Jordanian – who dropped to his knees and raised his fists, celebrat-

ing his first Grand Prix gold. It had been an extraordinary victory for the 21-year-old fighter from Zaraq’a who only got into the game in 2016. Or rather – got back into the game in 2016. “I started taekwondo when I was young – I used to be a bad boy, and my mother wanted me to be a good boy, so she sent me to a taekwondo center,” Elsharabaty said the day after his victory. “Now, I am not a bad boy!” Perhaps – but in the early days of his return to taekwondo, he was not an ideal student. “At the start, he did not listen to me, he was lazy!” said Coach Faris Al-Assaf. “But not now! Now he has started to get good, and he is getting the medals.” The year he returned to the sport, 2016, was a historic one for Jordanian taekwondo – and, indeed, for Jordan as a sporting nation. That year, on the mats in Rio, virtually unknown fighter Ahmad “The Desert Wolf” Abughaush astonished the taekwondo world when – in spectacular, jump-kicking style - he won his country its first ever Olympic medal in taekwondo. And that medal was gold. Unsurprisingly, the sport – which had previously boasted a surprisingly high number of master-grade black belts – surged across the country. “Now in Jordan taekwondo is the number one sport, more than football,” said Al-Assaf, who is both Abughaush’s and El-Sharabaty’s coach. “All the children in Jordan play it in school,

and in clubs after school.” The federation is aiming to make a big mark at the 2022 Youth Olympics in Senegal with its new generation. “The aim is two golds,” said Al-Assaf. But there is more pressing business before then. “Maybe three [Jordanian players] will qualify for Tokyo 2020,” he said. Elsharabaty hopes to be among them. But with his current ranking, his place is not guaranteed. “We hope Moscow will be our ‘Stalingrad’ [ie a decisive victory] to ensure qualification in the early stages,” said Ali Al-Asmar, Executive Manager of the Jordan Olympic Committee. A good result at the Moscow Grand Prix Finals in December would grant Elsharabaty precious ranking points – meaning he would not have to battle through the bruising Continental Qualifications in early 2020. Powerful and confident, he brings a range of combative attributes to the mats. His coach says he blends the power and high-altitude kicks of old school taekwondo with the tactical smarts and front leg game of the new school. In terms of physique, Elsharabaty cites winning leg strength: “When I push kick, I can move the opponent with my strikes,” he said. Even so, his favorite shots – on full display in Sofia – are head kicks. He has no problem with confidence. “I always say to myself I am the best in my weight, that I can do it,” he said of his prematch ritual. “Then I pray.” Still, the coming weeks and months are not looking easy. “I will be training hard, working hard,” he said. “Right now, I am challenging myself. If I beat myself I can beat anyone else.”

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Jingyu Wu

There were some tremendous finals at the Sofia World Taekwondo Grand Prix, but surely the most extraordinary was the W-49kg. It pitted Korea’s 2016 Rio gold medalist So-hui Kim against China’s Beijing 2008 and London 2012 gold medalist Jingyu “Superkicker” Wu of China. Wu opened at lightning speed, appearing to surprise Kim and scoring immediately with one, then two body kicks. Kim returned fire with her own kick from open play, grabbing two points with a skipping side kick that flew across the mats. Round 1 ended 4-2 to Wu. In the second, Kim attacked, trying to force Wu off the mats, but Wu stood her ground and stayed cool in the clinch. Wu side kicked and flicked out face kicks, then – as Kim attacked – executed a circular back step combined with a body kick. This was real technical mastery, but Kim also landed, and Round 2 ended 6-4 to Wu. With just a two-point difference, either athlete could win it in Round 3. Wu stabbed in another side kick in to go to eight, then to 10. Kim now had to advance. Wu backpedaled and coolly bided her time before landing a perfect face kick to Kim – then another! Wu’s radar was now locked on and the crowd started cheering. In the final seconds, Kim landed again, but the match ended 24-8 to Wu. That was an extraordinary score for Wu against such a top-tier player - but what is more extraordinary is who Wu is and what she represents. For lovers of taekwondo, Wu needs no introduction. But let us refresh our memories, for one of the game’s greatest stars is now in the midst of an incredible comeback. Wu first laid claim to fame 11 years ago, on home turf at the Beijing Olympic Games, where she struck gold. In 2012, she repeated that feat in London. That made her a member of a tiny elite: only six taekwondo fighters have won two Olympic golds.

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Could Wu make it a historic hat trick in 2016? It was not to be. Wu crashed out in Rio, failing to make it even to the quarter-finals. “I was not at my best, there were a lot of expectations, I had a lot of stress, I was not fully focused,” Wu said. “I had never lost a game at such a big event.” Post-Rio, she dropped out of the game. She became vice president of the Chinese Taekwondo Association, and gave birth to a daughter, Shao-yu. But though she had disappeared from pundits’ radars her fighting spirit continued to simmer. “I did not think of giving up – I never think of giving up!” she said. “If I had got a medal in Rio, I might have quit, but I lost. I want to win again!” Now aged 33, Wu returned to the rigorous training of the super athlete. Wu was known in the community for her manic, five-hour training sessions, but was forced to restart from scratch: In the Chinese

phrase, she had to “eat bitter.” “I had to go back to basics – even running!” she said. “Honestly, it was too hard: At my age, I need more rest.” In February, after a two-year, three-month retirement, she loped onto the mats at the Fujairah Open in UAE. “I was nervous,” she admitted. “Very nervous!” When the smoke cleared, Wu had a gold medal around her neck. In addition to her back-to-basics training, she had to rebuild her Olympic ranking points from scratch. That meant a grueling competitive schedule. More 2019 golds followed – at the Presidents Cup Asia, the German Open. At the elite level, she won silver at the World Championships in Manchester, GB, and another silver at the Grand Prix in Chiba, Japan. And now – gold in Sofia. Fight watchers were electrified. “I don’t know how she came back after giving birth!” said Laurence Rase, performance director of Team Belgium and herself a former athlete and mother. “She is fighting against the clock. I remember when I turned 30, my body changed and I lost that aggressiveness. That is why I follow her!” “She is an amazing fighter, someone I have always looked up to,” added Jade “The Welsh Wonder” Jones, who also seeks a third

Olympic win in Tokyo. “It would be magical if we could both get golds.” “There is no difference among all the top players physically, with her, it is her work ethic and her self-belief,” said Karim Dighou, coach of Team Australia. “When push comes to shove – she shoves!” Wu looks at least a decade younger than her 33 years. Tiny and deceptively fragile looking – she fights in the -49kg weight class – she is a mixture of shy and upbeat who just can’t seem to stop herself from smiling. Despite her superstar status, she has time for all. “She is an amazing fighter but she is also kind and humble,” said Rase. “She says hello to everyone, she is always respectful.” Wu has some sound advice for all mothers. “Even if you are a mother, you need to have a dream, a wish, because your ability and your actions affect your child,” Wu said. Speaking of Shaoyu, she said: “I have taught her courage, to not be afraid of difficulties – you have to challenge yourself even when you are very little!” But what drives her to keep playing one of the Olympics’ roughest sports? She credits higher powers. “I think I was meant to be in taekwondo,” she said. “It was the choice of the gods.” Whether the fight gods will favor her in Tokyo cannot be known. But 2020, she insists, is not about precious metal; there is a deeper drive. “Since that first gold in Beijing in 2008, medals mean nothing to me,” she said. “I just want to try and do something that others cannot – I want to see what I can do.”

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Christian McNeish

Heading into Battle of the Beasts The Sofia Grand Prix – headlined “Best of the Beasts” – had much to live up to, given that the previous edition of the championships, held in Chiba, Japan, had featured a truly remarkable quality of combat. Day 1 had featured a particularly sensational battle as Iran’s Mirhashem Hosseini took on Great Britain’s Christian McNeish for the gold in the M-68kg category. The Brit scored first with a body kick as the Iranian advanced, sounding his war cry. Then Hosseini landed a head kick on the counter, felling McNeish and going 4-2 up. McNeish landed his own head kick but fell, bringing the score to 6-6. More head kicks! More falls! More action – and Round 1 ended 11-9 to McNeish. Round 2 saw intense clinch work with both seeking to land close-in head kicks. The Brit took a 13-9 advantage before the Iranian fell after a punch to the jaw. After a video replay, the board was adjusted to 10-13. In intense action, the scores evened at 13-13, then McNeish finished the round 15-14 up. In the third – despite their phenomenal work rate – both athletes were still alive with energy. Both landed head kicks; the board rang up 19-19. Another accidental punch to Hosseini’s face saw the referee flash his red card as the Iranian struggled to rise. The score was now 20-19 to the Iranian. With one minute left, Hosseini engaged top gear. In whirlwind combat, Hosseini went to 25-20, then 27-20, then 31-20 thanks to both head kicks and falls by McNeish. With 25 seconds left, the British coach called a video replay. Denied. McNeish was finally looking tired; he tried a flying kick but fell. It ended with gold for Hosseini with a tremendous 36-20 victory – but it had been an epic fight. 118

On the eve of the Sofia event, the British fighter was not disappointed with his performance in Chiba. “I am happy with how the day went, I had some good fights, and I improved over my previous performance at GPs and at the Worlds,” McNeish said. “I am definitely happy with how it has gone and I hope to continue to improve on my performance. So what went wrong in Round 3? “I started giving him too many points,” McNeish admitted. “I would not say I gassed out – I lost my composure a bit. That is why I opened up.” Still, McNeish has plenty of opportunities ahead. Aged 22, from Plaistow, London, he has battle in the blood: His father was a kickboxer – the sport his son played until switching to Olympic taekwondo in 2013. “I was from kickboxing, which is the same sort of thing [to taekwondo],” he said. The transition from one combat sport to another was not a great challenge: “My persona is I adapt well, I am good at learning.” Under the tutelage of Team GB’s coaching and conditioning staff in Manchester, McNeish has been racking up the wins. His trophy cabinet contains, among other metalwork, a Youth Olympics gold from Nanjing in 2014, a Grand Prix bronze from Moscow in 2017, a European Championships gold from Kazan in 2018; and now a Grand Prix silver from Chiba in 2019. Asked to assess his own style, he said: “Obviously leg control – but my favorites are any things that are a bit more erratic and dynamic.” On the technique front, his favored blows are all crowd-pleasers: back kicks, double kicks and – very much on show during his Chiba final high kicks delivered from within the clinch. Clearly he is at home in both open play and the close-in ruck. “I try to be balanced,” he said. He also prioritizes stamina – “I push my fitness, so I can push the fight” – which explains hia extraordinary work rate. Above all, he is a self-believer. “I rate myself as a fighter and I don’t over-rate other fighters,” he said. “My dad calls me ‘champion.’” However, while he continues to do battle at the elite end of the game, his track to Tokyo is far from certain: Teammate and current World Champion Bradly Sinden fights in the same weight category. That presents Team GB selectors with a devilish decision to make ahead of 2020: Only one fighter of each nationality can be represented in each Olympic weight category. Still, McNeish is a sports fan as well as a sports man. That means – regardless of who gets the nod to represent GB at the Olympics – he will be heading east next summer. “I will be in Tokyo!” he vowed. “Whether I am competing at the Games or not.”

WT Demo Team Perform ‘Red Rose of the Balkans’

The world’s highest flying taekwondo practitioners – the WT Demonstration Team – bought their unique brand of excitement to Bulgaria, generating buzz in advance of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in the capital, Sofia. Hundreds of Bulgarians watched two stadia performances, entitled “Red Rose of the Balkans” at the Sport Hall Mladost in the city of Burgas on Oct. 15, and in the Strudjenie Pluven Sporten Klub Cherno More in the city of Varna on Oct. 16. Some 16 team members showcased kicks, flips, poomsae, self-defense and of course their famous high-speed, high-altitude aerial board breaks in the two 40-minute performances. The team also performed at the Grand Prix’s opening ceremony.

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World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final Action was fast and furious in the last Grand Prix of the year

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he Moscow 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final got underway at the Krylatskoye Sports Palace, as 125 of the world’s best athletes from 42 countries gathered to compete. The opening ceremony captivated spectators with a local pop-dance group display and a truly phenomenal demonstration by the Russian Taekwondo Union (RTU) team. World Taekwondo President

Chungwon Choue thanked the RTU for its support and professionalism in hosting the 2019 Grand Prix Final. The first day of the event saw the preliminaries and semi-finals played out. The finals got underway with a message from President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, who congratulated World Taekwondo and the organisers for successfully hosting such an important event on the international sports calendar.

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-49kg

+67kg Shuyin Zheng of China secured gold over Serbia’s Milica Mandic. China’s Pan Gao took the bronze in the category after the withdrawal of Great Britain’s Bianca Walkden due to injury.

A highly entertaining W-49kg final saw Tijana Bogdanovic of Serbia take gold, after a head kick in the final seconds of the third round secured victory over Chinese legend Jingyu “Superkicker” Wu. Rukiye Yildirim of Turkey won bronze with a win over Jae-young Sim of Korea.

-80kg The home crowd spurred on Russia’s Maksim “Red Machine” Khramtcov, who won gold in an incredibly close M-80kg final against arch-rival Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan. Nikita Rafalovich of Uzbekistan maintained his composure and won bronze over Egypt’s Seif Eissa.

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-58kg It was neck-and-neck as rising Italian star Vito Dell’Aquila secured a tremendous gold over Jun Jang of Korea, who has dominated the category this year. For the bronze, Georgy Popov of Russia fought back in the third round to secure victory over Iran’s Armin Hadipour Seighalani.

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-67kg It was also an incredibly close W-67kg final, with just one point between the athletes, but Ruth Gbagbi of Cote d’Ivoire sustained her late lead and secured gold, with Matea Jelic of Croatia picking up silver. Just a point differentiated athletes for a third time in the bronze medal contest, as Paige McPherson of USA defeated Magda Wiet Henin of France.

-57kg Zongshi Luo secured China’s second gold medal, leaving Hatice Kubra Ilgun of Turkey with the silver. In the bronze medal contest, Anastasija Zolotic of USA made a powerful comeback to win bronze over Skylar Park of Canada in golden round.

+80kg Despite Iranian Sajjad Mardani’s powerful and consistent advances, Kyo-don In of Korea secured gold in the M+80kg final. Rio gold medalist Radik Isaev of Azerbaijan overcame Slovenia’s Ivan Konrad Trajkovic in the bronze medal contest by just one point.

-68kg Lastly, the M-68kg final saw a dominant performance by Dae-hoon Lee of Korea, winning gold over Bradly Sinden of Great Britain. China’s Shuai Zhao was delighted to take bronze against Iran’s Mirhashem Hosseini after a late-fight comeback.

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Napoli

NAPLES, Italy Taekwondo Medals RANK

Photo provided by FISU

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G

S

B

TOTAL RANK BY TOTAL

1

 Korea

7

3

2

12

1

2

 Iran

5

0

6

11

2

3

  Chinese Taipei

2

6

3

11

2

4

 Turkey

2

0

0

2

8

1

1

1

3

4

5

Nearly 6,000 student athletes from 112 countries gathered in sunny Naples, Italy, to contest 18 sports at the Napoli 2019 30th Summer Universiade, which took place from July 3-14. For the first time in the history of the multi-sport event for student athletes aged under 25, part of the Athletes’ Village was set on board two cruise ships, both docked at the Naples cruise ship terminal. The taekwondo competition ran from July 7-13 at the city’s Palazetto dello Sport Center. The mats were kept busy as the Universiade featured both kyorugi and poomsae. Each division included both individual and team events. Korea came out at the top of the medal table, followed by Iran in second place and Chinese Taipei in third.

COUNTRY

USA

6

 France

1

0

2

3

4

6

 Thailand

1

0

2

3

4

8

  Egypt

0

2

0

2

8

9

 China

0

1

1

2

8

10

 Russia

0

1

1

2

8

11

 Uzbekistan

0

1

0

1

14

11

 Kazakhstan

0

1

0

1

14

11

 Belgium

0

1

0

1

14

11

 Mongolia

0

1

0

1

14

11

 Norway

0

1

0

1

14

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Lima 2019 Pan American Games LIMA, Peru July 26-Aug. 11, 2019

Poomsae Makes Debut at 2019 Pan American Games in Lima 128

The historic Poomsae competition at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games concluded on July 28 after two days of breath-taking action. While Kyorugi has long been part of the Pan American Games, Lima 2019 was the first time poomsae had been included as an official sport. The sport’s inclusion reflects its global growth in recent years as more people than ever are practising the non-combat discipline. The competition took place at the Regional Sports Village of Callao and involved six countries that had qualified athletes through the Pan American Games Poomsae Qualification Tournament. The opening day saw the individual men’s and individual women’s Recognized Poomsae while the second day brought the Pair Recognized Poomsae and Mixed Team Freestyle Poomsae. USA and Mexico finished joint top of the medal table with two golds and one bronze medal each. Hosts Peru finished with two silvers and one bronze. Canada won two silver medals and one bronze, while Puerto Rico and Ecuador took one bronze medal each. 129


Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships

will be your first taste of a world-level taekwondo competition. I am confident that many of you will enjoy this experience and go on to become the next generation of taekwondo stars.” Choue urged the players to look beyond the sport itself. “Championships are not just a chance to gain experience for future World Champions or Olympians,” he continued. “There is also a chance to foster new friendships and open your eyes and minds to new cultures. You will become citizens of the world. Your experiences here will be a vital part of your life education.” Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdukhakimov Aziz also addressed the stadium. “It is a great pleasure that Uzbekistan hosts international competitions,” he said. “Today more than 20,000 people in Uzbekistan practice taekwondo...I want all athletes to enjoy this event and good luck to all participants!” The day’s finals began with the M-65kg, which saw Andrei Zagorulko from Russia win gold as he overcame Chinese Taipei’s Juien Chang 17-11 in an enthralling final. The bronze medals were shared between Korea’s Chan-young Kim and Ariihei Lehartel from French Polynesia. The W-29kg saw Thailand win gold courtesy of a dominant

performance from Waranya Talatngoen against Korea’s Su-in Sin as the Thai won 29-13. Ashley Choi of the USA and Hayrunnisa Gurbuz of Turkey won bronzes. Juan Carlos Martinez Ayala from Mexico won gold in the M+65kg, overcoming Russia’s Ivan Skudrit in the final, 21-11. Mohamed Hassan Ali Mohamed from Egypt and Mohammad Mahdi Taherkhani from Iran took home the bronze medals. In the W-33kg it was once again Thailand that came out on top as Natkamon Wassana beat Russia’s Viktoriya Eremina 27-9 in the final. The Philippines’ Tachiana Kezhia Mangin and Kazakhstan’s Aidana Sundetbay took home bronzes. The last final of the day drew Iran’s Mobina Nematzadeh against Korea’s Gah-yeon Kim in the W-51kg. Nematzadeh was too strong and won gold with a convincing 24-4 victory in the final. Bronzes went to Ezoe Alberola from Andorra and Nutsa Gelashvili from Russia. Earlier in the day, President Choue had delivered a special lecture on Taekwondo History and Development to students and professors at the National University of Uzbekistan Named after Mirzo Ulugbek. The students in attendance were studying the Taekwondo and Sports Action major, which was established in November 2018.

Taekwondo’s up-and-coming talent gets chance to shine in Tashkent TASHKENT, Uzbekistan Aug. 7-10, 2019

DAY

1

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The Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships got underway in Uzbekistan’s capital with the world’s best athletes aged 12-14 competing across five weight categories. Some 550 athletes from 64 countries, plus one refugee team, took to the mats. Russia, Mexico, Thailand and Iran won the gold medals on offer on an opening day which reinforced the global strength of taekwondo and the bright future facing the sport. Before the finals began, a moving opening ceremony took place which drew senior officials including World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue, World Taekwondo Council

Member Ali Sagirkaya, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdukhakimov Aziz, Minister of Physical Culture and Sports Dilmurad Nabiev, President of the Uzbekistan National Olympic Committee Rustam Shaabdurakhmanov and President of the Uzbekistan Taekwondo Association Sherzod Tashmatov. The ceremony began with a parade of national flags and was followed by a WT Demonstration performance and a traditional Uzbek musical show. “Thank you to Uzbekistan, thank you to Tashkent and thank you to the Organising Committee for your friendship and support,” said Choue. “For most of the athletes here today, this

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DAY

2

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Iran, Russia, Thailand and Ukraine Strike Gold Another breathtaking day of taekwondo at the Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships saw Ukraine, Thailand, Russia and Iran all win gold. The day began with the M-33kg finals. Maksym Manenkov of Ukraine faced Min-kyu Park of Korea in a fight which showcased the very best of attacking taekwondo. Manenkov emerged victorious with an impressive score of 48-27. Sharing the bronze medals after strong individual performances were Uzbekistan’s Mukhammadamin Aliev and Russia’s Danila Goncharov. In an exhilarating final in the M-37kg, the scores started close, but it was Thailand’s Ittiporn Sinsang who had the

edge over Russia’s Damir Akhmetov, taking gold with a score of 21-14. The bronzes were shared between Iran’s Pooyan Jafarsalehi and Belarus’ Aliaksandr Kazlou. Team Russian continued their strong form with another gold courtesy of Ramazan Ramazanov’s 34-14 win over Bulgarian Denis Dimitrov in the M-53kg. Nizami Hajiyev off Azerbaijan and Amirhossein Mataji Nimvar of Iran won the bronze medals. In the women’s competition, the high-scoring matches continued much to the delight of the crowd in the Universal Sports Palace. Iran’s Zahra Zarin Naal Sheikhani overcame Thailand’s Pacharaporn Sukhamon 39-28 in an enthralling

W-41kg final to win gold. Zeynep Nur Saricicek of Turkey and Australia’s Tiarnagh Sweeney secured bronzes. The last event of the day brought another gold medal for Iran in the W-47kg. Mobina Bakhshi of Iran narrowly defeated Natalia Andrea Mendivelso of Colombia with a score of 15-14 in a dramatic match that had been too close to call. Great Britain’s Beth Christy and Chihyun Chiang of Chinese Taipei won bronzes. In the morning, World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue had met with the Uzbekistan National Olympic Committee President Rustam Shaaburakhmanov at the country’s NOC headquarters.

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DAY

3

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Iran, Russia, USA and Uzbekistan Seize Golds On an enthralling third day at the Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships, Iran came out on top with two gold medals, hosts Uzbekistan and the USA won their first golds of the championships and Russia added to their solid tally of first-place finishes. The day’s finals commenced with the M-41kg category. Much to the delight of the home crowd, Uzbekistan secured gold when Zafarbek Karimov won in impressive fashion, 31-11, against Amirhossein Norouzi of Iran. After fantastic efforts on the mats, Tzui Chan of Chinese Taipei and Ryan Martine of Haiti secured bronze. The second final of the day was a tighter affair as Sviatoslav Garbuz of Russia matched up against Zarko Krajisnik of Serbia in the M-45kg final. After a tense three rounds, it was Garbuz who came away victorious with a score of 11-6. Securing the first medal for Palestine, Omar Yaser Ismail joined Eduardo Malo Gutierrez of Mexico in joint third place.

Despite losing out to the host nation for gold in the M-41kg finals, it was Iran’s day in both the W-44kg and W-55kg finals. Sanaz Abbaspour Fazlabad beat Kazakhstan’s Aisha Adilbekkyzy 25-2 in the W-44kg; her compatriot Pouneh Jafar Salehi was equally convincing and beat Ji-yeon Kim of Korea 21-1 in the W-55kg. Sarah Chaari of Belgium and Elsa Hernandez Vazquez of Spain celebrated bronzes in the W-44kg, and Vitaliya Lazuta of Belarus and Peiyu Yao of Chinese Taipei took third place in the W-55kg. The last final of the day brought some of the greatest drama, as an equally matched Ava Lee of USA and Setayesh Ghahremani Mahid of Iran battled it out for the W-59kg gold. In a match that went to the very last second, it was Lee who claimed victory, 14-13, to deny Iran a hat trick of gold medals. Daria Kulakovskaia of Russia and Neus Valbuena Sanchez of Spain won bronze.

WT President Chungwon Choue’s speaks at the National University of Uzbekistan Named after Mirzo Ulugbek

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Athlete in Focus

DAY

4

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Iran, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine Grab Last Golds

Waranya Talatngoen The spectacular Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships drew to a close today with Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Turkey winning the remaining gold medals on offer. At day’s end, Iran topped the women’s team table with a total of 818 points, followed by Thailand with 366 points and Korea with 197 points. In the men’s team table, Russia came out on top with 649 points; followed by Iran with 287 and Ukraine with a close 270 points. Opening the last day’s finals was the M-49kg category which saw Kirill Korolev of Russia overcame Thailand’s Banlung Tubtimdang with a tense 11-3 victory. Taking the bronze medals on offer were Amirhossein Maleki of Iran and Mohamed Osama Husseien of Egypt. A strong 21-8 victory over silver medalist Fengyin Chang of Chinese Taipei secured Ukrainian Simur Mirzoiev the gold in the M-57kg finals. Canada’s Ayoub Bouriel and Hakan Kaya of Turkey won bronze medals. Iran’s Abolfazl Abbasi Pouya won gold in an impressive match against Aiden Bevel of USA in the M-61kg final after scoring an impressive 31-13 result. Bronze medals were shared between Chiasheng Chen of Taipei and Abarkan Hassan of Morocco. The W-37kg final matched Parnia Salmani of Iran and Kamonchanok Sikhen of Thailand. Both fighters fought well, but it was Salmani who edged it with a score of 21-18 to give Iran their second gold medal of the day. In third place were Assel Abubakir of Kazakhstan and Yulia Vitko of Belarus. The championships drew to a close with the W+59kg finals which saw an unbelievable 23-0 triumph for Zehra Begum Kavukcuoglu of Turkey over Daniela Miliushchankava of Belarus. Securing the last remaining bronze medals were Chunchin I of Chinese Taipei and Hyeon-ji Jang of Korea. In recognition of their outstanding performances, Zafarbek Karimov of Uzbekisan (M-41kg) and Iranian Abbaspour Fazlabad Sanaz (W-44kg), were awarded the Men’s MVP and Women’s MVP awards, respectively. The Best Male Referee went to Denis Kim from Russia; the Best Female Referee was awarded to Ksenia Levai from Serbia. The Best Men’s Coach went to Sergel Kosianenko of Russia and the Best Women’s Coach was awarded to Azam Durosti of Iran after they drove their teams to the top of the two boards for the overall championships. Australia was awarded the Active Participation Award, while Morocco was awarded the Good Fighting Spirit Award.

High Speed, High Energy

At the Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships in Uzbekistan, one name on everyone’s lips was that of the h i g h - e n e r g y, high-scoring Waranya Talatngoen of Thailand. The Thai earned gold in the final of the W-29kg category after annihilating Korea’s Sun-in Sin in a truly superb match. The Thai was the aggressor from the get go as Round 1 got underway, dominating center court and showing a higher work rate with a range of front-leg round and side kicks. And she was not afraid to try risky techniques – she stumbled after attempting a close-range arcing ax kick to the head. But as the round proceeded, she asserted her dominance, driving Sin back, and starting to employ front leg-rear leg combination attacks. She finished a very active first round 5-3 up. In Round 2, Talatngoen charged out with a side kick, upping the energy of what had already been a high-energy

bout. But Sin was now being more aggressive and no longer giving up the center of the mats as she had done in the first round. She was also unlucky not to score with a series of face kicks. But as Sin surged forward, the Thai deployed a new weapon from her arsenal – a beautifully timed punch that stopped Sin in her tracks. The second round ended with the Thai 12-3 up. And her fitness was apparent: When the referee signaled the end of the round, Talatngoen literally ran back to her coach. As ever, the final round would be the decider. It started off with a flurry of on-target techniques from both players, with Sin raising her score to 11, but Talatngoen was still ahead on 14. Sin then pulled the score up to 13-14, raising the possibility of a turnaround. But from that point on, the tiny Thai went to work, firing on all cylinders. Moving fast, going to the grapple in clashes and using a really sweet back circle step when she was in trouble, she was kicking, kicking, kicking. And her target radar was bang on: She extended her lead to 23-13. After a long, tense pause for a video replay – the score stood at 23-13 - action recommenced. Talatngoen struck immediately, flooring Sin with a wicked

hook kick to the head. The last seconds were all-out war, but the victor was clear: The Thai emerged with a 29-13 victory in a match that would have been the envy of any international-level senior fight. “I am so happy because I got a gold medal!” she said after her win. “It’s for my parents, my master and my nation!” “She is very good at kicking, but I already knew her style,” Talatngoen said of Sin. It was her second win over the Korean: They had previously clashed at the 3rd Asian Cadet Taekwondo Championships in Amman, Jordan. As a fighter, Talatngoen assesses her key attribute as quickness. “My best strength is speed, I step a lot very quickly and move fast,” she said. Others might consider it her aggression and fearlessness – and indeed, she alluded to that when she said, “When I do taekwondo, I feel so fun. Also, I like fighting!” When she is not practicing taekwondo or doing school work, the 13-year-old enjoys mobile and computer games and reading. But as a member of Thailand’s national cadet team, her two cadet gold medals have not sated her ambitions in the sport. “I want to be a junior national taekwondo player in the future,” she said.

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Athlete in Focus

Athlete in Focus

Zafarbek Karimov

Ava Lee

Local Lad Grabs Host’s First Gold

American Head Hunter Aims High

There are few better sensations in sport than winning gold in front of a home crowd; many athletes might go their whole

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careers without having the opportunity. Aged just 14, Uzbekistan’s Zafarbek Karimov experienced that unrivalled elation when he sent the home crowd into raptures as he won Uzbekistan’s first gold medal at the Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships. In a fierce battle against Iran’s Amirhossein Norouzi in the M-41kg final, Karimov was victorious, beating his competitor with

an imposing final score of 31-11. On top of his gold medal, Karimov was also awarded the Most Valuable Player award for this Cadet Championships. “I feel great, I never thought I would get the MVP award, as my aim was to just get a gold medal, but when I received the MVP, I was very happy,” he said. “I have never participated in Asians or Worlds, only participated at G-ranked events like the Korea Open 2018 and the Fujairah Open 2019, where I got gold medals,” he said. “Of course, World Championships are a very different feeling.” Karimov stated that his family watched all the action live at home and cried with happiness.

“I was very scared when I had my first match and from the second match onwards I found strength and started believing in myself,” he said of the event. The Tashkent gold medal, the highlight of his taekwondo career to date, was the outcome of six years of dedication to the sport which sees the young fighter train up to six times a week, for four to five hours a day.

His favorite thing about the sport is the self-discipline and tactics involved in the match, he said. Karimov was first introduced to taekwondo through classes at school. “My brother used to go there,” he said. “So I followed him and started practicing, then I won the school competitions and started liking it more.” When it comes to inspiring figures in the taekwondo community, Karimov said his favourite athletes include Incheon Asian Games winner Jasur Baykuziev and Olympic heavyweight Dmitriy Shokin - both of Uzbekistan. After taking up taekwondo at a similar age to Karimov, Shokin’s taekwondo journey and achievements make him a great role model to aspire to.

So, what is next? In the near term, Karimov hopes to get into the Junior National Team and win at the World Taekwondo Junior Championships and Youth Olympic Games. But his lifetime ambition is to match his role models by competing in the senior category and going that one step further by becoming an Olympic Champion.

“I am still in shock!” said Ava Lee, in the wake of winning a very close gold in the W-59kg category at the Tashkent 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships. “It’s just crazy I get the opportunity to fight against the best of the best in the world – it feels amazing!” It is the biggest win of her taekwondo career so far – a career that started when she took up the sport at the tender age of two and a half. “My grandpa came to America teaching taekwondo so that’s why I started,” she said. Taekwondo remains a family affair: Lee cites her father as her biggest inspiration in the sport. It was no easy route to the title of cadet world champion: Lee won the honor after a close battle against Iran’s Setayesh Ghahremani Mahid. Needless to say, the Lee family was delighted. “They are extremely proud of me,” she said. Lee has a wider taekwondo circle beyond her immediate family: In the adult game, she likes Paige McPherson of Team USA and Skylar Park of Canada. Reaching the elite stage of those two idols is a way off, but Lee has the necessary appetite for hard work – as witness her preparation for Tashkent, which must surely have

been heavy going for a schoolgirl. “My training for this tournament was about an hour and a half in the morning doing weight training and conditioning,” she recalled. “At night it was two hours on strategies and some conditioning... I spent about 12.5 hours a week training.” Despite the athletic endurance the sport demands, Lee enjoys it all – and not just the fighting. “My favorite thing about taekwondo is probably getting to travel and meet people from around the world,” she said. And she is still medal-hungry: “My next tournament will be the Presidents Cup,” she said. “Then I’d like to go to the Junior World Championships in 2021.” And beyond that? “My dream is to win the Olympics in 2028,” she said. Spoken like a champ.

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Kicking Kids Tell Tashkent:

‘Taekwondo for All’ Locals got a taste of taekwondo when a flash mob briefly took over central Tashkent

A taekwondo flash mob briefly took over the Fraternity of Peoples Square in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in a “Taekwondo for All” event on Aug. 8. The objective: Expand the popularity of taekwondo in Uzbekistan, so making people healthier and happier via the sport which teaches fitness, self-discipline and respect. World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue witnessed the display of more than 2,000 taekwondo youth practitioners, including 50 disabled students. Also attending were Minister of Physical Culture and Sports Dilmurad Nabiev; President

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of the Uzbekistan National Olympic Committee Rustam Shaabdurakhmanov; and President of the Uzbekistan Taekwondo Association Sherzod Tashmatov. After the flash mob, Choue thanked the national leader for his contributions to taekwondo in the country. “My special thanks go to President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev - without his enormous support, taekwondo wouldn’t be as popular as it is now,” Choue said. “I believe all students here will be part of the future for taekwondo in Uzbekistan!”

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Wuxi 2019 WT World Cup

Poomsae Championships

Grace and power, ability and agility were to the fore as taekwondo’s top poomsae players put the art into martial WUXI, China Aug. 22-23, 2019

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1 day

Chinese Taipei dominated the first day of the Wuxi WT World Cup Poomsae Championships which began on Aug. 22 at the Taihu International Expo Centre in Wuxi, China. The day started with Individual Recognized Poomsae, followed by Poomsae Mixed Pair performances, before finishing with the Team Recognized Poomsae Performances for both male and female groups. Chinese Taipei dominated the men’s and women’s individual Recognized poomsae competitions with a combined total of seven gold medals. USA also recorded a successful day with five golds,

while Thailand secured two victories, and Iran and Vietnam each took home a single gold medal. Juitse Yu of Chinese Taipei who won bronze at the last championships, beat Shawn Seo of USA, a previous silver medalist in the men’s Cadet Competition for Individual Recognized Poomsae, while Jingkun Dong of China and Vladimir Vanivskii of Russia took bronzes. Defending Champion Quoc viet Pham of Vietnam defeated Ryan Real of USA in the Men’s Junior Category for Individual Recognized Poomsae to earn gold once again.

Chiehen Hsueh added another medal to Chinese Taipei’s haul with bronze, while the first medal of the day for Thailand was won by Sippakorn Wetchakornpatiwong, who claimed the category’s second bronze. Yunzhong Ma of Chinese Taipei won gold in the men’s Individual Recognized Poomsae Under 30 competition with a captivating display, gaining top points for accuracy and presentation. Pattarapong Sengmueang of Thailand finished second, leaving Yuxiang Zhu of China and Ngoc Minh hy Nguyen of Vietnam to take bronzes. In the Under 40 Men’s Individual Recognized Poomsae competition, only two places were up for grabs on the podium, with Justin Wang (USA) taking gold over Sina Khalash Ghezelahmad (Iran). The Men’s Under 50 Individual Recognized Poomsae competition saw Pok-sun Yang of USA take gold over James Gies, who secured Canada’s first medal of the event, silver. Shaohung Cheng added to Chinese Taipei’s impressive first day medal count with bronze. Garth Cooley of USA won gold in the Men’s Under 60’s Individual Recognized Poomsae, beating Mohsen Kazemi of Can-

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Wuxi 2019 WT World Cup

Poomsae Championships ada to the top spot. Hsiaoyao Su of Chinese Taipei won bronze. Shuanghsia Chen of Chinese Taipei came out victorious over silver medalist Donald Cottee of USA in the Under 65 Male Category. Huoshih Chen of Chinese Tapei, born in 1952, was the oldest participant in the day’s competition. He won gold in the Men’s Over 65 competition. In the Individual Recognized Poomsae for Women Cadets, Chia jung Liu of Chinese Taipei won gold over Ratchadawan Tapaenthong of Thailand, who had also won silver at the last championships, in a close competition. Jiaqi Cheng of China and Thuy nhi Bui of Vietnam also secured bronze medal places on the podium. The Women’s Junior Individual Recognized Poomsae saw Kanokchanok Jareonying of Thailand, the category’s previous silver medalist, win gold and Pinchieh Huang of Chinese Taipei take silver. Picking up the bronze medals were Mi zah Ha of Vietnam and Megan Lee of USA. In the Under 30 Women’s competition, Ornawee Srisahakit of Thailand secured gold while Thi tuyey mai Lien of Vietnam took silver. Yuhan Ji of China and Yinghsian Lee of Chinese Taipei were awarded bronze. In first place for the Under 40 Women’s Competition, Seyedeh Masoumeh Hosseini won the first medal for Iran in female competition, and the first gold medal overall for the country. Kathy Do of USA finished second, while Wenyi Chen of Taipei won bronze. Thoa Nguyen of USA beat Tatiana Parfenenko of Russia for the top spot in the Under 50 Individual Recognized Poomsae Competition. The Women’s Under 60s Individual Recognized Poomsae saw Chinese Taipei come out on top after an impressive display by Hanwen Chang over Thur Doolittle of USA. Lisa Mae Petropoulos of Canada secured the bronze. Yu Lien Lo of Chinese Taipei took the gold over Svetlana Selezneva of Russia and Susan Cronin of the USA in the Under 65 Poomsae. The Over 65 female group saw Tweedy Nguyen of USA, the second oldest competitor of the day, take gold as the only entrant after a strong per-

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formance. In the Recognized Poomsae Mixed Pair performances, it was again Chinese Taipei which dominated with four gold medals from the men’s and women’s competition. For the Cadet Pair Poomsae, Chinese Taipei won gold, bettering their silver from the previous World Cup, while Vietnam obtained silver and USA and Thailand took the bronze medals. In the Junior Pair Poomsae, gold was awarded to Thailand, Vietnam secured another silver medal, and Chinese Taipei and Iran got bronzes. Hosts China took gold in the Under 30 Pair Competition for Recognized Poomsae. Chinese Taipei won silver while Vietnam and Thailand collected bronzes. Iran beat USA in the Recognized Poomsae Over 30 Pair Competition while Canada took bronze. The Team Recognized Poomsae lineup saw Thailand, the defending champs, again, take the gold in the men’s cadet competition, with Vietnam securing silver, while USA and China added to their respective medal tallies with bronze. In the Junior Men’s Team Competition, Chinese Taipei won gold over Thailand with silver, while USA and Vietnam claimed bronzes. The Men’s Under 30 Competition saw Chinese Taipei take gold over Vietnam. Hong Kong secured its first medal of the day by winning bronze, alongside USA. With only one entry for the Under 30 Men’s Team Recognized Poomsae performance, USA claimed gold. The Women’s Team Recognized Poomsae Cadet Competition ended with USA also taking gold, China in second place and joint bronzes for Chinese Taipei and Vietnam. For the Women’s Juniors, Chinese Taipei secured gold over Vietnam, while Russia and USA took bronzes. The Under 30 Women’s Team Recognized Poomsae competition was won by Thailand. Vietnam finished in second place over USA, and China took bronze. Lastly, for the Over 30 Team Recognized Poomsae category, Chinese Taipei took the gold. That ended the first day of competition.

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Wuxi 2019 WT World Cup

Poomsae Championships The second day of the World Taekwondo World Cup Poomsae Championships in Wuxi concluded with the Freestyle Poomsae in Individual, Pair and Mixed Teams for both men and women. The day commenced with a win in the Men’s Under 17 Freestyle Poomsae Individual Competition for a representative of the competition’s hosts, China, as Qiunan Lin secured an early gold, while Jake Evan De Guzman of USA took silver. Duc Thinh Nguyen of Vietnam and Yihsun Chen of Chinese Taipei both obtained bronze medals.

For the Men’s Freestyle Poomsae Individual Over 17 category, Dinh Khoi Nguyen of Vietnam took the gold medal over last year’s champion, Yu-han Lin of Chinese Taipei. Nathaniel Cromwell of USA and Mingda Hu of China secured the bronze medals and vital points for the final Team Standing results. In the Women’s Freestyle Poomsae Individual Under 17 category, Siriyapron of Thailand achieved a marginal average score advantage which secured her the gold over Hannah Noble of USA, who took home silver. Shiran Zhang of China and Hsinya Chen of Chinese Taipei won the bronze medals. The Women’s Freestyle Poomsae Individual Over 17 category was a tight competition, but Thi Mong Quynh Nguyen of Vietnam came out on top and obtained the gold after only achieving bronze at the last poomsae competition. Chiehyu Li of Chinese Taipei claimed silver and Kayiu Wong of Hong Kong won bronze.

In the Under 17 Freestyle Poomsae Pair, USA secured gold, closely followed by Vietnam with silver, and China and Chinese Taipei with bronze. In the Over 17 Pair Freestyle Poomsae, the hosts managed to take gold over Vietnam, while Chinese Taipei and USA won bronzes. Taking the last of the medals in the Under 17 Freestyle Poomsae Mixed Team was Chinese Taipei with gold and USA with silver for the second year in a row. Vietnam and Thailand took bronze. In the over 17 Freestyle Poomsae Mixed Team, Vietnam won gold over last year’s gold medalists, Chinese Taipei, who secured silver, and USA won bronze. At the close of the event, Chinese Taipei topped the medal table, followed by USA in second place and Vietnam in third. 146

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WUXI 2019 WT WORLD CUP

DAY

1 WUXI, China

Aug. 23-25, 2019

Teams go for broke in taekwondo’s very own ‘Battle of the Nations’ Home Teams Grab Gold and Bronze in Women’s Event he Wuxi 2019 World Taekwondo World Cup Team Championships got underway in Wuxi following the conclusion of the spectacular two-day Poomsae Championships. Throwing their hat into the ring for the women’s title were hosts China (two teams), Korea, Russia and USA. The final between China 1 Team and Russia was an exceptionally competitive match with both teams tied at 30:30 after three rounds, forcing the battle to go to golden round. Leveraging the exceptional skill and composure of Mengyu Zhang, China 1 Team secured gold in the tie-breaker. Zhang had been ably supported on the day by double Olympic gold medalist Jingyu Wu who played a key role in the team’s success with

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the speed and variety of her kicking techniques. Representing China 1 Team were: Jingyu Wu, Shuyin Zheng, Mengyu Zhang, Lijun Zhou and Xueqin Tan. After a tight final, Team Russia were thoroughly deserving of their silver medals, which were awarded to Elena Evlampyeva, Karina Zhdanova, Kristina Prokudina, Anastasiia Baklanova and Polina Khan. In joint third place with bronze was Team Korea, compromising Da-yeong Kim, Min-ah Ha, Yu-jin Kim, Do-hee Yoon and Hee-kyeong Jo. The other bronze went to China 2 Team, who played Team USA in a repechage contest, which saw the hosts secure their second medal of the day. China 2 Team was comprised of Zongshi Luo, Zeqi Zhou, Huan Wang, Xiaojing and Ju Zuo.

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WUXI 2019 WT WORLD CUP

DAY

2

Iran Carries the Day, Wins Gold in Men’s Championship

eam Iran emerged victorious in the male category of the World Taekwondo World Cup Team Championships in Wuxi, China, after narrowly beating Team Korea in a remarkably tense final. Competing were teams from China (two teams), Iran, Kakazkhstan, Korea, Russia and USA. Iran struck gold after achieving bronze in last year’s World Cup. Despite Korea winning the first three rounds, Iran ended the final round with a flourish to win a tight battle 71-68. Bringing home the gold for the Iranian side were Hossein Lotfi, Amir Mohammad Bakhshi, Erfan Nazemi, Sina Bahrami and Saeid Rajabi. The Koreans put up a great fight for the top spot and their 150

silver medal was thoroughly deserved. The country’s representatives were Dong-yun Shin, Jun-seo Bae, Woo-hyeok Park, Hyeon-seung Kim and Jee-seok Kim. Notably, Park, who had won bronze in the M-68kg category at the World Taekwondo Championships in Manchester this year, was a great asset to Team Korea. Despite losing 69-53 to Korea in the semi-finals, Russia crushed China 2 Team 69-31 to take bronze. The Russian team comprised Sarmat Tcakoev, Dmitriy Artyukhov, Dali Ishberdin Dali, Vladislav Yugay and Adrei Zemledeltsev. China 1 Team took on Team USA in the second bronze medal match. The home fans were not disappointed as they wiped out the Americans 121-47. 151


WUXI 2019 WT WORLD CUP

DAY

3

China Defends Mixed Team Crown; Iran Takes Silver

efending champions China emerged victorious once more as the World Taekwondo World Cup Team Championships came to an end with an enthralling last day of the competition in Wuxi as the Mixed Team competition played out. With an early withdrawal by the USA due to injury, the day offered a fantastic opportunity for the remaining seven countries: China, Cote d’Ivoire, Iran, Japan, Korea, Russia and Turkey. Team China conquered all before them with fierce attacks in high-scoring matches. In the final, China faced Iran, securing the top spot on the podium with a 50-26 result. Despite their impressive lead and buildup, Iran could not overcome the strength of the hosts and had to settle for silver after Manchester 2018 Grand Prix bronze medalist (W+67kg) Pan Gao aggressively worked the mats. The 2019 Mixed Team Gender Champions are Pan Gao, Hao Tang, Linglong Chen and Jie Song. The silver medalists are

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Kimia Hemati, Amir Mohammad Bakhshi, Erfan Nazemi and Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin - the latter a national heroine in Iran, having secured the country’s first-ever female Olympic medal in Rio in 2016. Iran had secured their place in the final against China after meeting Russia in the semi-final, securing a marginal 41-38 win. Iran had also scored a 47-13 victory against newcomers Cote d’Ivoire, who came directly from the African Games in Rabat, Morocco, which had ended just two days prior. Russia obtained their semi-final spot by default after the USA had to drop out at the start of the competition. After Russia was defeated by Iran in the semi-finals, the team prepared for a bronze medal contest. However, Korea and Japan had withdrawn in the repechage, granting the Russians a default bronze.

Team Russia’s 2019 bronze medalists are Kadyrbech Daurov, Yury Kirichenko, Arina Zhivotkova and Yulia Zaitseva. The battle for the last remaining bronze medal was won by Turkey, who had earlier beaten Korea with a final score of 37-30 in the quarter-final. The opponent in the bronze-medal match was Cote d’Ivoire, who secured their place in the repechage after the early withdrawal of Team USA. Turkey came out on top with a staggering score of 74-28, to take the last bronze of the competition. Turkey’s bronze medalists are Yunus Sari, Ayse Asma, Ikra Kayir and Hsan Can Lazoglu. World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue presented the trophies and prize money alongside IOC Executive Board Member Ser Miang Ng, and Deputy Secretary General of the Wuxi Municipal Committee Liang Ma. 153


SAHL HASHEESH 2019 WT

It was red hot action under a red hot sun as taekwondo’s top kickers and trickers hit the beach in Egypt SAHL HASHEESH, Egypt

Oct. 11-13, 2019

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DAY 1

BEACH CHAMPIONSHIPS

T

he third World Taekwondo Beach Championships kicked off for their three-day run on the Red Sea in Sahl Hasheesh, Egypt on Oct. 11, with Spain and Thailand securing the first golds. Barreiro of Spain secured the first gold medal in the Freestyle Poomsae Individual Male Over 17, with T. Bompenth and C. Khopana, both of Thailand, winning silver and bronze, respectively. In the Women’s Individual Freestyle Poomsae Over 17 Finals, Thailand’s K. Chomchue won gold while M. Popova of Russia claimed silver. Thailand made it a one-two success in the Freestyle Poomsae Pair Under 17 competition as duo S. Wetchakor and N. Pitinanon took gold, while W. Sianglio and K. Jareonyin finished with silver. Third place was awarded to the Egyptian team of A. Hussein M. and F. Mohamed E.

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The opening ceremony began with a flag parade and a WT Demo Team performance. “This is the first time that we have hosted the World Taekwondo Beach Championships in Egypt and the African continent,” WT President Chungwon Choue said in a speech. “I believe that this is an important milestone for the expansion of taekwondo in this region.” Choue also thanked Taekwondo Africa President Ahmed Mohamed Fouly, who wished all attendees good luck. VIPs in attendance included World Taekwondo Council Members Issaka Ide and Inseon Kim, President of the Egyptian Taekwondo Federation Amr Selim and Deputy Minister of Sports Mohamed Elkordy. World Taekwondo is committed to finding new ways to innovate poomsae competition so that fans all around the world are able to experience its power and beauty. Beach taekwondo is the first competitive format overseen by WT that takes the sport out of the arena and into the open air.

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DAY 2

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hailand continued to dominate the field, securing 12 golds on Day 2 as competition got underway in Recognized and Freestyle Poomsae, as well as Technical Breaking and Dynamic Kicks. In the Individual Recognized Poomsae Men’s Under 17 competition, Sippakorn Wetchakornpatiwong of Thailand secured gold over Aly Mohamed of Egypt. In the Women’s Individual Under 17 competition, Kanokchanok Jareonying made it double gold for Thailand, while Salma Dabbur of Egypt had to settle for silver. Shajan Sepanlou of Germany finished first and Sune Østli of Norway came in second in the Under 30 Individual Recognized Poomsae Men’s category. Thailand’s Ornawee Srisahakit won the women’s event, fending off competition from Tuva Hatlen Kjodnes of Norway who came second. In the Individual Over 30 Recognized Poomsae Men’s category, Mohammed Ali a Alabbas of Saudia Arabia won gold, while Aras Omer Mohammed Ali of Iraq took silver. In the women’s event, Baerbel Reiner won Germany’s first gold of the Championships, beating Fajar Al-Binali of Brunei, who placed second. It was a double podium finish for Thailand in the Under 17 Recognized Poomsae Pair competitions, with S. Sirisinru and N. Pitinanon finishing first over compatriots W. Sianglio and S. Chuphon. Thailand’s winning streak continued in the Under 30 Recognized Poomsae Pairs, as P. Sengmuean and P. Phaisanki took home another gold. S. Østil and T. Kjodnes won silver for Norway. S. Brummer and B. Reiner took gold

for Germany in the Over 30 Recognized Poomsae Pair competition, while A. Metwally and S. Abdelsala secured silver for hosts Egypt. In the Under 17 Recognized Poomsae Team Men’s, Thailand took home gold. Their team comprised S. Wetchakor, W. Sianglio, and S. Sirisinru. Egypt took silver with a fantastic performance by their team of A. Ghoneim, E. Wardany and A. Mohamed. Thailand struck gold again in the Under 17 Recognized Poomsae Team Women’s with K. Jareonyin, N. Pitinanon and S. Chuphon; Morocco placed second with I. El Hayek, H. Saadi and A. El Assal. For the Over 17 Recognized Poomsae Team competitions, Thailand came out on top once more as T. Bompentho, C. Khopana and P. Sengmuean secured gold for the men’s competition; while K. Chomchuen, O. Srisahaki and P. Phaisanki topped the women’s podium. Egypt took silver in both events, with the teams of A. Hesham, N. Gendy and A. Fawzy placing second in the men’s competition, and S. Attia, R. Nasr and H. Mahmoud A in the women’s. In the Under 17 Freestyle Poomsae Female, A. Sumenkov of Russia struck gold, followed by S. Chuphon of Thailand with silver and L. Costas F. of Spain with bronze. In the Under 17 Freestyle Poomsae Men’s Individual event, Thailand finished with gold and silver as W. Sianglio and S. Sirisinr took their respective places on the podium, with I. Mamdouh of Egypt finishing in third place. T. Bompentho and O. Srisahaki came first in the Over 17 Freestyle Poomsae Pairs, taking home gold for Thailand. In second place was M. Barreiro and S. Gonzalez for Spain, and Thailand took bronze with a second entry from P. Sengmuean and P. Phaisanki. In the Mixed Team All Ages Freestyle Poomsae, Thailand took gold and silver once more, while Egypt claimed bronze.

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DAY 3

160

T

hailand continued their domination on Day 3, winning 41 medals - just under half of the total 92 on offer in the competition. On the final day, athletes competed in the Free Style Dynamic Kicks and Breaking Challenge, as well as Technical Breaking and High Kick Performance. In the Men’s Free Style Dynamic Kicks and Breaking Challenge, Thailand took three of the four podium places. W. Sianglio secured gold, while silver and bronze went to fellow countrymen T. Bompentho and S. Wetchakor respectively. The second bronze medal was claimed by M. Barreiro from Spain. It was a similar story in the women’s Free Style Dynamic Kicks and Breaking Challenge, as O. Srisahaki struck gold, N. Pitinanon took silver and K. Jareonyin secured bronze. Russia’s A. Sumenkova joined the Thai trio on the podium as the second bronze medalist. In the Technical Breaking Jumping Multiple Kick competition, Thailand were on top yet again, as Suwapis Sirisinrungraung won gold over his compatriots Pattarapong Sengmueang and Thanaphat Bompenthomnumsuk, who won silver and bronze respectively. Hosts Egypt picked up the second bronze in this event after a fantastic technique showcased by Ahmed Hussein Mokhtar Aboushady. In the Technical Breaking Spinning Kick discipline, Miguel Barreiro Estevez broke Thailand’s hold on the top spot by securing gold for Spain. Thailand completed the podium, as Thanaphat Bompenthomnumsuk picked up silver and the remaining two bronze medals were claimed by Suwapis Sirisinrungraung and Sippakorn Wetchakornpatiwong. In the Freestyle Breaking Men’s category, Worapol Sianglio of Thailand won gold, while Spain’s Estevez had to settle for silver. After an impressive competition, Suwapis Sirisinrungraung of Thailand and Mohamed Ahmed Abou Laila of Egypt secured bronze. In the women’s Freestyle Breaking, Kotchawan Chomchuen of Thailand won gold with Anastasiia Sumenkova of Russia taking silver. Spain’s Lucia Costas Fernandez and Thailand’s O. Srisahaki made up the podium, each claiming bronze.

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In the Men’s High Kick Performance competition, Egypt dominated the medal tables as Ahmed Hussein Mokhtar Abousahdy struck gold for the hosts, over silver medalist Worapol Sianglio of Thailand. Abdalla Ghoneim also won bronze for Egypt, alongside Estevez of Spain. In the women’s event, Sophie Gonzalez Drescher won Spain’s first and only gold of the day, with Ornawee Srisahakit of Thailand taking silver, and Spain’s Lucia Costas Fernandez and Thailand’s Kotchawan Chomchuen finishing with bronze. At the end of the day, Thailand dominated the the medal table with 41 medals, followed by hosts Egypt with 18, and Spain in third place with 10. Morocco and Russia each won five, Germany and Saudi Arabia each went home with three, while Libya and Norway each took two. Bahrain, Iceland and Iraq each won one medal to complete the tally. The Best Male Referee award was given to Pablo Garcia of Spain, while the Best Female Referee went to Amany Abdelfalah from Egypt. Best Men’s Coach was awarded to the host nation’s Ahmed Khedr, and Thailand’s Nayeon Lee was awarded the Best Women’s Coach, after the country’s dominance throughout the whole competition. The Best Men Poomsae Athlete went to Egypt’s Abdel Fattah El Sayed, and the Best Women Poomsae Athlete was awarded to Ornawee Srisahakit from Thailand. For the Best Breaking Athlete awards, Miguel Barreiro Estevez and Anastasia Sumenkova won the men’s and women’s categories respectively. Best Team was awarded to Thailand.

Arab Taekwondo Union’s 1st Female Vice President Focuses Energy on Empowering Women, Anti-Bullying

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The future of taekwondo is changing - and Azza Fouly, who headed the Organising Committee for the 2019 World Taekwondo Sahl Hasheesh Beach Championships, is at the forefront of it. Egyptian Fouly is the first woman to be elected as a vice president in the history of the Arab Taekwondo Union. She was unanimously chosen at the Arab Taekwondo Union General Assembly in April. She is also the youngest candidate to be elected among sports federations in the Arab world. “It was revolutionary moment in Arab culture to elect a female vice president of the Arab Taekwondo Union,” she told WT. “My top two priorities in my position are to promote women’s power in Arabia and to improve the anti-bullying culture

within taekwondo.” Fouly has leveraged the World Taekwondo Beach Championships in Sahl Hasheesh as an opportunity to showcase traditional Egyptian culture beyond the global stereotypes of sphinxes and pyramids. “In Egypt, we have the beautiful Red Sea, but we also have so many young people who are passionate about sport,” she said. Fouly - who is the daugher of Africa Taekwondo President Ahmed Fouly started taekwondo when she was 13, in Cairo. She believes that the strengths of taekwondo include learning respect and instilling self-confidence. She is currently sharing her love of the sport with her children, who are currently learning taekwondo. 163


WORLD TAEKWONDO GRAND SLAM CHAMPIONS SERIES Elite fighters battle for taekwondo’s richest purse in end-of-season war in Wuxi

Dec. 18-20, 2019 WUXI, China

Croatia, Korea and Russia Reign Supreme on Day 1

DAY

164

The third edition of the elite-level, invitational World Taekwondo Grand Slam Champions Series got underway in Wuxi, China, with Croatia, Korea and Russia sharing the three gold medals - and the ample prixe money - on offer. The opening day saw the world’s best athletes compete in the M-68kg, M-80kg and W-67kg categories. The competition follows a single-elimination format with matches decided by the best of three two-minute rounds, with the gold and bronze medal matches

moving to best of five rounds in the men’s competition. (Hence, the scores below are round-round, not pointpoint.) In the star-studded M-68kg category, it was Korea’s Dae-hoon Lee who emerged victorious, overcoming home-favourite Shuai Zhao 3-0 in the final. It is the second gold medal Lee has taken at the Grand Slam, having won the inaugural edition in 2017. Lee played a dominant game from start to finish, not losing a single round in the final, semi-final or quarter-finals. China’s Zhao had overcome Great Britain’s Christian McNeish 2-1 in the semi-final to secure his fight against Lee. McNeish faced Zhao’s compatriot, Wenye Lin, who had lost to Lee in the second of the semi-finals, in the bronze medal match. In what was the closest match of the weight category, Lin secured bronze, winning 3-2.

Russia’s ever-entertaining Maksim Khramtcov won gold in the -80kg once again, beating Hwan Namgoong from Korea in the final. Namgoong fought well but Khramtcov was too strong and won straight rounds, 3-0. Khramtcov had not fared as well in the semi-final, as he lost a round to Uzbekistan’s Nikita Rafalovich, but still came out victorious, 2:1. In the second of the semi-finals Namgoong beat Milad Beigi Harchegani from Azerbaijan 2-1. Rafalovich won bronze against Beigi Harchegani 3-1 in the third-place match. In the W-67kg, Matea Jelic won her first-ever Grand Slam gold medal as she saw off the challenge from fellow Croatian Doris Pole in the final. Jelic continued the good form she had showed in the earlier rounds, winning the final 2-0 – the same score with which she had beaten China’s Mengyu Zhang in the semis. The second semi-final was another Croatia versus China matchup with Pole taking on Yunfei Guo. Pole won the match 2-1. In the all-China bronze medal match it was Guo who took third place with a score of 1-0.

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DAY

Korea, Thailand and China Strike Gold

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A second day of thrills at the World Taekwondo Grand Slam Champions Series in Wuxi saw Thailand and China win their first gold medals while Korea won their second at the elite-level invitational. Fans at the state-of-the-art Taihu International Expo Centre were witness to the world’s best athletes competing for gold across the W-49kg, W-57kg and M+80kg weight categories. In the M+80kg, Korea claimed their second gold of the competition, as Kyodon In overcame Great Britain’s Mahama

Cho in the final, 2-0. In, who did not lose a round in any of his matches, won gold at the inaugural edition of the Grand Slam in 2017 and was determined to return to the summit after winning silver last year. Despite eventually losing out to In in the final, Cho had performed well throughout the day and beat China’s Jian Tian 2-0 in the semi-final. Russia’s Rafail Aiukaev obtained third place in an extremely close bronze medal match against Tian from China, which ended in a 3-2 victory to Aiukaev.

Panipak Wongpattanakit, Thailand’s unstoppable taekwondo star, retained her title and secured a gold medal in the W-49kg final, beating China’s superstar Jingyu Wu 2-0. The hosts picked up another medal in a close bronze medal contest after Ju Zuo from China beat Russia’s Elizaveta Ryadninskaya 2-1. For the final event of the day, last year’s W-57kg finalists were matched once again. Lijun Zhou from China won a marginal 2-1 victory over Great Britain’s Jade Jones to secure the first gold medal for the hosts. Jones had gone into the final in good form having won her previous two matches 2-0, but Zhou proved too strong. In the bronze-medal match, China’s Zongshi Luo added to the hosts medal table with a 2-1 victory over Ah-reum Lee from Korea, securing the last medal of the day.

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DAY

Korea Grab Double Gold on Grand Slam’s Last Day The last day of the Grand Slam Champion’s Series saw Team Korea reign supreme, grabbing both golds on offier in the M-58kg and W+67kg categories.

The W+67kg concluded the series with Korea’s Dabin Lee securing gold against Great Britain’s Bianca Walkden, in a tight 2-1 win. Walkden - Grand Slam gold medalist at the previous two editions, in 2017 and 2018, saw her winning streak ended by Lee, who had never previously medalled in Wuxi. China’s Shuyin Zheng beat Madelynn Gorman-Shore from the USA in a marginal 2-1 victory to see China bag the final bronze medal of the competition. The 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Slam Champions Series in Wuxi was the final event on this year’s elite-level competition calendar. The winter break will be a welcome break for the sport’s top-tier fighters to recharge their batteries before embarking upon the final leg of the track to Tokyo 2020, which gets underway early in the new year.

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Korea’s Jun-seo Bae beat teammate Min-yeong Lee 2-1 in the M-58kg final, securing gold in his first-ever Grand Slam. Both Bae and Lee had shown their quality all the way through the competition, winning their respective quarter- and semi-final bouts 2-0. The Korean duo presented a thrilling final for spectators at the Wuxi Taihu International Expo Centre, but it was Bae who was ultimately victorious. This was also Lee’s first medal since the inaugural Grand Slam Champion Series kicked off in 2017. It was left to China’s Yushuai Liang to disrupt a total Korean dominance of the medal table by claiming third place in the bronze medal match with a 3-1 triumph over Chan-ho Jung - also from Korea.

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The quality of the water source defines the quality of the life creature

Water of Nongfu Spring is from high quality natural water sources Every water source comes from a healthy and dense forest ecosystem The water contains a variety of natural minerals, suitable for daily drinking Good water source nourishes life


Taekwondo Africa

African Para Taekwondo Championships HURGHADA, Egypt Feb. 20, 2019 RANK

172

COUNTRY

MEDAL STANDING G

S

B

1

Ukraine

3

0

1

2

Turkey

2

2

1

3

Azerbaijan

2

2

1

4

Russia

2

1

2

5

Brazil

1

0

1

6

France

1

0

1

7

Morocco

1

0

1

8

Great Britain

1

0

0

9

Serbia

0

1

2

10

Spain

0

1

2

173


Taekwondo Asia

Asian Junior Taekwondo Championships AMMAN, Jordan July 21-22, 2019 COUNTRY

Afghanistan China Chinese Taipei Iran Jordan Kazakhstan Korea Lebanon Malaysia Mongolia Philippines Syria Taekwondo Asia Tajikistan Thailand Uzbekistan

Taekwondo Europe

European Junior Taekwondo Championships MARINA D’OR, Spain Oct. 4-6, 2019

TOTAL MEDAL TALLY G

S

B

0 3 1 10 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

1 1 1 6 4 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1

2 2 4 1 2 4 7 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 5 4

RANK

COUNTRY

TOTAL MEDAL TALLY G

S

B

1

Russia

13

5

10

2

Turkey

2

2

1

3

Croatia

1

3

5

4

Bulgaria

1

2

0

4

Great Britain

1

2

0

6

Spain

1

0

5

7

Serbia

1

0

1

8

Ukraine

0

2

0

9

Greece

0

1

1

9

Hungary

0

1

1

*List of countries in alphabetical order

Asian Cadet Taekwondo Championships AMMAN, Jordan July 23-24, 2019 COUNTRY

Chinese Taipei Iran Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Korea Lebanon Mongolia Palestine Philippines Syria Thailand Uzbekistan Vietnam

European Cadet Taekwondo Championship MARINA D’OR, Spain Oct. 1-3, 2019

TOTAL MEDAL TALLY G

S

B

2 9 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 1

1 2 0 2 4 5 0 0 1 0 0 4 1 0

4 5 2 9 6 3 1 1 1 3 1 3 1 0

RANK

COUNTRY

TOTAL MEDAL TALLY G

S

B

1

Russia

9

5

8

2

Turkey

3

2

8

3

Greece

2

3

1

4

Belgium

2

0

0

5

Great Britain

1

1

1

6

Belarus

1

0

2

7

Spain

1

0

1

8

Hungary

1

0

0

9

Croatia

0

2

6

10

Bulgaria

0

2

2

*List of countries in alphabetical order

174

175


Taekwondo Oceania

Oceania Taekwondo Championships

Pan America Junior Taekwondo Championships

APIA, Samoa July 19, 2019

OREGON, USA June 14, 2019

COUNTRY

TOTAL MEDAL TALLY

Australia

G

S

B

15

10

2

COUNTRY

TOTAL MEDAL TALLY G

S

B 2

Argentina

2

0

4

1

5

4

Fiji

0

0

4

Brazil

French Polynesia

1

0

0

Canada

1

5

4

Chile

1

0

2

Colombia

0

1

2

Costa Rica

0

1

3

Ecuador

1

2

1

Haiti

1

0

1

Jamaica

0

0

1

Mexico

1

3

5

Kiribati

0

0

2

New Caledonia

0

1

2

New Zealand

0

2

5

Papua New Guinea

0

2

1

Samoa

0

1

3

Solomon Islands

0

0

3

Tonga

0

0

3

Peru

0

0

4

Vanuatu

0

0

1

Puerto Rico

0

0

8

USA

11

3

*List of countries in alphabetical order

Taekwondo Pan America

*List of countries in alphabetical order

Oceania Para Taekwondo Championships

Pan America Cadet Taekwondo Championships

GOLD COAST, Australia June 28, 2019

OREGON, USA June 14, 2019

COUNTRY

COUNTRY

Australia

TOTAL MEDAL TALLY G

S

B

0

0

1

TOTAL MEDAL TALLY G

S

B

Argentina

0

0

2

3

1

5

Brazil

1

0

2

Brazil

China

0

1

0

Canada

3

4

5

Chile

0

0

5

Colombia

0

1

5

Ecuador

0

0

2

El Salvador

0

0

2

Guadeloupe

0

0

1

Mexico

2

1

2

Peru

1

4

3

Puerto Rico

1

2

4

USA

10

8

6

Croatia

1

0

0

France

1

1

0

Great Britain

0

0

1

India

1

0

1

Japan

0

1

0

Russia

1

0

1

Spain

0

0

2

Thailand

0

0

1

Turkey

3

1

1

USA

0

2

1

*List of countries in alphabetical order

*List of countries in alphabetical order

176

177


2019 WT

GALA AWARDS

Wintry Moscow provided a ritzy setting for taekwondo’s glitzy year-end party MOSCOW, Russia Dec. 7, 2019

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Female Player of the Year

Kick of the Year

PA N IPA K WONGPAT TA NA K IT Thailand

K YO -DON IN, Korea

Fair Play Award RUSL A N ZH A PA ROV, Kazakhstan M A H A M A CHO, Great Britain

The Most Improved MNA of the Year BR A ZIL

Female Referee of the Year K SEN I A L E VA I, Serbia Coach of the Year R EZ A M EHM A NDOUST Azerbaijan Team

Male Player of the Year JU N JA NG, Korea

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Best MNA of the Year

Male Referee of the Year

RUSSIA

DEN IS K IM, Russia

Jun Jang of Korea and Panipak Wongpattanakit of Thailand were named Male and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively, at the World Taekwondo Gala Awards in Moscow on Dec. 7. Both athletes, whose awards came via peer voting, have enjoyed outstanding seasons in 2019. Jang won the title at the Manchester World Taekwondo Championship as well as a trio of Grand Prix wins in Rome, Chiba and Sofia. Wongpattanakit won gold at the Manchester World Championships and the Chiba Grand Prix. As Wongpattanakit was attending the 2019 Philippines Southeast Asian Games on the night, the award was accepted on her behalf. (WT President Chungwon Choue later presented her with her award at the Wuxi Grand Slam.) “Congratulations to all our awardees this evening, whose performances and contributions over the course of this year have made them deserving winners of these prestigious awards,” said Choue. “But tonight is not just about those who won awards; it is about everyone in our global taekwondo family.” Choue went on to thank the sport’s athletes, coaches, referees and its Member National Associations, or MNAs.

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Kyo-don In of Korea was awarded Kick of the Year for a spectacular blow at the Manchester Worlds. It had been a good day for “The Bear;” the big Korean had bagged a gold medal in the M+80kg category earlier at the Grand Prix Final. Russia was awarded MNA of the Year in recognition of the outstanding work they have done, both in promoting taekwondo in recent years, and in the success of their national team. The Most Improved MNA of the Year award went to Brazil. Reza Mehmandoust won Coach of the Year for Azerbaijan and thanked his team and World Taekwondo profoundly. The Female Referee of the Year Award was presented to Ksenia Levai of Serbia, with the Male Referee of the Year going to Denis Kim of Russia. Kazakhstan’s Ruslan Zhaparov and Great Britain’s Mahama Cho jointly won the Fair Play award in recognition of their outstanding sportsmanship at the end of their semi-final match at the Roma 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix. After a grueling and close-fought match, the Kazakh and the Brit warmly embraced and both dropped to the floor in the centre of the mat to perform a short prayer - actions that embodied the spirit of taekwondo, of sportsmanship and of respect over victory. Also during the evening, Choue awarded International University Sports Federa-

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tion President Oleg Matytsin with an honorary 7th dan black belt certificate. Matytsin thanked Choue for inviting him to the Gala Awards and said it was an honour to receive World Taekwondo’s prestigious honorary dan. After the awards, the World Taekwondo family let its hair down and saw off 2019 in style. The black-tie party provided a welcome break in a gruelling schedule. Next year is an Olympic year, meaning 2020 will be all business.

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WT Council Meeting Cancun, Manchester, chosen as upcoming Grand Prix Hosts MANCHESTER, Great Britain May 13, 2019 The World Taekwondo Council announced on May 13 that Cancun, Mexico will host the 2020 Grand Prix Final and Manchester, Great Britain will host one edition of the 2021 Grand Prix Series and also the 2023 Grand Prix Final. The appointments of two world-class cities reflects the continued global interest in hosting World Taekwondo events. The Council meeting took place in Manchester ahead of the 2019 World Taekwondo Championships. “We are delighted to partner with Cancun and Manchester to host our future World Taekwondo Grand Prix events: Mexico and the GB are two great taekwondo nations and we have excellent experience of working with them to deliver fantastic events for our athletes and fans,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “We have no doubt the Grands Prix in 2020, 2021 and 2023 will be no different.” 186

As 2020 is an Olympic year, World Taekwondo will only operate a Grand Prix Final, rather than a full Grand Prix series. During the meeting, the Council reiterated its commitment to upholding the highest standards of good governance and therefore is constantly looking at improving and amending its statutes. One such amendment was the comprehensive restructuring of the World Taekwondo Standing Committees in order to maximise efficiency and ensure their composition reflects the diversity of the federation’s membership. The number of committees will be reduced to 17 and a greater emphasis will be placed on delivering and reporting results. An update on the Governance Review was also presented as the federation aims to establish itself as a leading International Federation and set new standards. World Taekwon-

do is in the process of establishing Rules of Engagement to ensure all aspects of good governance are practiced by World Taekwondo down through the Continental Unions and Member National Associations. Upgrades to the Code of Ethics in line with the IOC Code of Ethics were also approved. The Council adopted the IOC’s Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities as World Taekwondo continues to ensure that athletes are at the heart of the sport. World Taekwondo is dedicated to protecting athlete welfare and the Council heard an update on the excellent work that is being done with the IOC to develop its safeguarding policies. Following the Council meeting, Choue attended the Head of Team Meeting to wish the athletes the best of luck for the upcoming World Championships.

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General Assembly 2019 Sets Sights on Governance Upgrades WT membership updated on Tokyo 2020 preparations and planning MANCHESTER, Great Britain May 14, 2019

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The World Taekwondo General Assembly took place in Manchester, GB, on May 14 with the meeting focusing on World Taekwondo’s ongoing process of governance reform as it aims to establish itself as a leading International Federation. World Taekwondo’s systematic review of all its governance structures began in 2016 when, drawing from international best practices in consultation with external advisers, it identified improvements that needed to be implemented. The General Assembly was informed of the progress that has been made establishing new rules, policies and procedures which will be applied down through the Continental Unions to national levels. World Taekwondo is committed to improving its governance for the benefit of the sport and its athletes and hopes that the improvements it is making will be Recognized in its scoring following the next ASOIF governance review later this year. Many of the biggest changes are in the development phase and will be ready for presentation at the next General Assembly. One such reform is the development of the WT safeguarding policy which will be finalized towards the end of the year. World Taekwondo has already implemented a number of related policies. At this week’s World Championships there will be a safeguarding officer and reporting process in place, and educational materials focused on prevention will also be provided. IOC Consultants on Athlete Safeguarding and Gender Equality Susan Greinig and Kirsty Burrows presented to the General Assembly and praised World Taekwondo for the leading role they are playing in introducing safeguarding policies. World Taekwondo’s sustainability strategy, which is under development, was also presented to the General Assembly.

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The strategy focuses on matters required to achieve sustainable events in a clear and transparent governance framework. “We have been very open about our commitment to implementing the highest standards of good governance and our good progress in that was shown in the big improvement in our scoring between the first and second ASOIF governance reviews, but we recognise we have more to do,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “We want to go beyond just what is required and instead establish World Taekwondo as a leading International Federation. As the global governing body, we have a responsibility to set the standards we expect our Member National Federations to follow but we also want to equip them with the tools to implement the same standards at the national level.”

The Assembly also heard a report on the qualification procedures for Tokyo 2020; it was announced there will not be any further competition rule changes. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee presented an update, announcing that the dates of the taekwondo competition will be July 25-28 and the para taekwondo competition will take place from Sept. 3-5. This will be the first time that the Olympic taekwondo competition will be at the start of the Games. After the General Assembly, a welcome reception was held in the Legend’s Lounge of Manchester City Football Club. The next World Taekwondo General Assembly will take place on the occasion of the 2020 WT World Junior Taekwondo Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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Conference Gives Guidance on Global Best Practices Guidelines offered on social development, sport safety, integrity and compliance MANCHESTER, Great Britain May 12, 2019

integrity of our competitions,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “In addition, we are dedicated to realising the potential of taekwondo to make a social impact beyond sport competitions and provide hope to millions around the world.” Choue also delivered the keynote address and spoke of the work that has been done through the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) to empower the powerless and WT’s joint demonstrations with the International Taekwon-do Federation (ITF) to promote peace through sport. Chair of the WT Sustainability Committee Giovanni di Cola, UNHCR Assistant Refugee Sport Coordinator Claude Marshall, Taekwondo Technical Committee Chair at the International Federation of University Sport Russell Ahn, and Senior Sport for Development Program Manager at the IOC Patrice Cholley all spoke on social development matters in sport. World Taekwondo Secretary General Hoss Rafaty introduced the theme of safe sport in the afternoon. IOC Consultants on Athlete Safeguarding and Gender Equality Susan Greinig and Kirsty Burrows presented on the importance of policies to safeguard athletes while Psychologist at GB Taekwondo Sarah Broadhead and Performance Lifestyle Advisor to GB Taekwondo Natalie Vickers spoke of the importance of addressing mental health. The conference closed with presentations from Deputy Secretary General at Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) Evangelos Alexandrakis, and Director General at the International Testing Agency (ITA) Benjamin Cohen, who spoke on integrity and compliance.

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Two days before the World Championships kicked off in Manchester, World Taekwondo hosted an innovative conference on May 12 that delivered best-in-class insights and interactive discussions on key issues facing taekwondo and the world of sport. The World Taekwondo Conference was split across three key themes: sport for social development; safe sport; and integrity and compliance. Experts specializing in each of these three areas delivered presentations before panel discussions were held to give the audience the opportunity to ask questions and provide their own insights. World Taekwondo has hosted academic symposiums before but this was the first time a conference was held in this format. The conference is the latest example of World Taekwondo’s commitment to disseminating international best practices to its National Federations and taking a leading role in tackling major issues. “World Taekwondo is committed to constantly learning from international best-practice to ensure that we implement robust measures which will safeguard our athletes and ensure the

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WT Extraordinary Council Meeting WT names first-ever female vice president

World Taekwondo concluded its Extraordinary Council Meeting in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 5 with a commitment to furthur strengthen its policies in a variety of key areas, including governance, athlete welfare and anti-doping. Chaired by World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue, the World Taekwondo Council made far-reaching decisions that will benefit the sport and its 210 Member National Associations (MNA) in the buildup to Tokyo 2020 and beyond. To demonstrate World Taekwondo’s commitment to gender equality, WT Council Member and IOC Member Aïcha Garad Ali of Djibouti was appointed the federation’s first female vice president. On governance, the Council agreed to further improve World Taekwondo’s transparency, based on recommendations from the 194

Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). In addition to publishing upcoming international sports events, World Taekwondo will promote and report on all future activities on its website. Furthermore, the Council agreed to increase its transparency by publishing a list of all suspensions on the World Taekwondo website. It was also agreed that the Council will communicate a Quarterly Progress Report on all upcoming projects on the website. “We have listened to ASOIF, and have worked hard to ensure greater transparency in many of the key areas of our sport,” said Choue. “This is an ongoing process and there will be further reforms to be announced in the near future.” The Council issued strict mechanisms in its anti-discrimination pol-

On athlete welfare, the Council approved tighter safety protocols for major international events. The Council agreed to strengthen the responsibility and processes of the Medical and Anti-Doping Committee, with a greater emphasis on competition safety equipment. Safeguarding athletes was at the heart of discussions, as the Council agreed to develop its complaint system for any form of harassment and abuse of athletes. In particular, the Council agreed to adopt the IOC’s confidential whistleblower mechanism on its website. The Council also reaffirmed World Taekwondo’s commitment to promoting clean sport by combating match-fixing, doping and any form of cheating. “World Taekwondo is based on the highest standards of in-

tegrity and there is no room for cheats in our sport,” Choue said. “Therefore, we look forward to working closely with the newly-appointed President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Witold Banka.” Australian Maher Magableh, a member of the Taekwondo for All Committee, was also welcomed as a new Council member. Jin-bang Yang of Korea, chair of the Technical Commission, was appointed to the Council, which will come into effect from Jan. 1, 2020. As a sign of taekwondo’s growing global popularity, the Faroe Islands were also welcomed into the World Taekwondo family, increasing the number of MNAs to 210. The Council also de-recognized the Taekwondo Federation of India (TFI) and recognized India Taekwondo as the sole national governing body of the sport in that country. World Taekwondo is in close collaboration with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for the good governance of taekwondo in India. The Council reported on the 2019 World Taekwondo Development program. The program included financial and training support for refugee athletes and athletes from financially challenged MNAs who are training for qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Council increased the budget by 20 percent, including support for the humanitarian activities of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF). In concluding the meeting, Choue reflected on the successes of 2019, while urging his colleagues to capitalize on the Olympic year ahead. In particular, Tokyo 2020 represents the historic introduction of para taekwondo to the Paralympic program. The next Extraordinary Council Meeting will be held at the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland on May 12, 2020. That location was cordially offered to WT during a meeting between Choue and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in Athens in October 2019. WT will be honoured to be one of the first International Federations to hold its Council meeting at the prestigious location.

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icy in order to deter any future cases of discrimination. In particular, Choue has called for greater protection of athletes who are denied visa access to international competitions for geopolitical reasons. The Council also approved a policy that will restrict elected officials to 12 years in office. This will see officials elected for an initial four-year period before the opportunity for a further two consecutive terms. Once approved by the General Assembly, these measures will come into effect for the 2021 election at the General Assembly in Wuxi, China. Previous terms served by Council members will not be counted in the new proposal.

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COUNCIL NEWS

WT Council Member Ide Receives President of Niger’s Medal WT Council Member and Niger NOC President Issaka Ide received the President of Niger’s Medal for his contribution to sports development on Aug. 15. The medal was presented by Prime Minister of Niger Birgi Rafani on behalf of President Issoufou Mahamadou.

WT Vice President Choi Elected Vice President of ACODEPA

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Ide Awarded by ANOC World Taekwondo Vice President and President of Taekwondo Pan America, Ji Ho Choi was elected vice president of the Association of Pan American Sports Confederations (ACODEPA) at its

General Assembly in Lima, Peru, on July 25 on the occasion of the 2019 Pan American Games.

Council Members, MNA Reps, Tour WT HQ

WT Council Members Anatoly Terekhov of Russa and Driss El Hilali of Morocco, along with 13 representatives from Member National Associations. visited World Taekwondo’s Seoul headquarters on 196

Oct. 11, where they were greeted and briefed on WT developments by WT Secretary General Hoss Rafaty. The MNA representatives hailed from Australia, Chinese Taipei, France, Malaysia, Mexico and the Netherlands. It was the first visit by such a sizeable delegation to the new WT headquarters in the Booyoung Taepyung Building on the iconic Sejong Boulevard in downtown Seoul. World Taekwondo moved from its former location, overlooking the historic Gyeongbok Palace, in June. Its new, high-prestige location is in the very center of the capital’s central business district, and is within a short walk of famous Seoul landmarks including City Hall, Deoksu Palace, Namdamun Gate, and the vast Namdaemun Market.

World Taekwondo Council Member and Niger NOC President Issaka Ide was presented with an Association of National Olympic Committees Merit Award during the organization’s General Assembly in Doha, Qatar on Oct. 17.

According to ANOC, the award, which dates back to 1983, was created to recognize persons who have in an exceptional way furthered or contributed to the work of the association.

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MNA NEWS Mexico Hails 50 Years of Taekwondo

‘Taekwondo Unites Us, Racism Divides Us’

China is one of taekwondo’s global powerhouses in the Olympic sport, and the country’s Ministry of Education is now leveraging the sport in national curricula. Taekwondo will be among 18 sports that will be used to test the skill level of China’s high, middle and primary schools, as the Ministry of Education aims to improve fitness levels and encourage more young people to regularly exercise, it has been reported. According to Xinhua News Agency, on Jan. 22, more than 100 scholars and experts across China gathered at Beijing University to complete the research and development of the new standard. Field tests of sports skills will be conducted with taekwondo as one of the test sports, alongside track and field, swimming, basketball, volleyball, and football. The ministry cited the many advantages of taekwondo as the reason for its inclusion in the school curriculum, including its etiquette training, psychological training, physical training and skill training. The ministry also noted that taekwondo is safe to practice, does not require specialized clothing or equipment, and has a strong educational role, promoting positive values. Taekwondo’s power to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles and embrace values that are socially beneficial has granted the sport a respected position in China.

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Mexico celebrated 50 years of taekwondo in the country on Nov. 10 at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the national capital, Mexico City. Thousands of trainees of all ages and belt ranks took part, performing taekwondo moves around a giant Mexican flag in the plaza. VIPs were also in attendance, with some of the highest authorities in national sports present. Among them were all board members of the Mexican Taekwondo Federation (FMTKD) headed by President Raymundo González, WT Council Member Inseon Kim, Director of the National Sports and Physical Culture Commission Ana Guevara; and many other Mexican political and sports figures.

Taekwondo Adopted in Chinese Schools to Test Athletic Skills

Taekwondo Joins Elementary School Curriculum in Honduras

Under the theme of “Taekwondo Unites Us, Racism Divides Us: Taekwondo as an Integration Tool,” the Guatemala Taekwondo Federation, in an effort to promote taekwondo among women regardless of race or religion, has been carrying out taekwondo programs in the village of Tipulcan, Coban, Alta Verapaz, located 200km from Guatemala City. Thanks to the practice of taekwondo, the girls have found another way of life. They have learned self-defense and have increased their self-esteem which has made them strong enough to avoid

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discrimination, sexual abuse and other social problems. Since operations started in 2014, the project has had an astonishing impact at social and institutional levels, catching the attention of the most influential media in Guatemala. It has also attracted attention from the Ministry of Culture and Sports which invited the girls of Tipulcan to exhibit the skills acquired through the practice of taekwondo. This project exemplifies the value of taekwondo as a most efficient educational tool to change lives.

Taekwondo has been adopted as a regular curriculum subject in 16 public elementary schools in Honduras. The taekwondo classes currently encompass 1,800 students at 16 schools – including 13 schools in the capital, Tegucigalpa. The classes are conducted twice a week by local taekwondo coaches and are mandatory for students. “Taekwondo teaches self-defense and also teaches good etiquette,” said Armando V. Valdes, who is both the president of the Honduras Taekwondo Federation and the communications director to the country’s leader, President Juan Orlando Hernández. “Through taekwondo, students can develop their characters, learn to respect their parents and teachers, and help their friends.” The program will be expanded to 20 schools within the year.

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Iran Celebrates International Taekwondo Day

Faroe Islands Joins World Taekwondo

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World Taekwondo held a first-of-its-kind workshop with WT staff and Continental Union (CU) presidents on March 31 in Wuxi, China. The workshop was designed to improve internal communications and governance, and to ensure the federation continues to evolve and progress. The workshop aligns with the federation’s new strategic plan, developed in collaboration with WT stakeholders, to build on taekwondo’s recent successes and establish WT as a leading International Federation. WT President Chungwon Choue opened the workshop, speaking on the history of taekwondo and its position within the Olympic Games, which has further strengthened in recent years. He reinforced the need for WT and its members to look forward to a bright future and dedicate themselves to providing the best possible sport for athletes and fans. He closed with WT’s mantra, “Peace is more precious than triumph.” Five topics, which are key priorities for WT, were presented on. They are: transparency; integrity; democracy; development and solidarity; and checks, balances and control mechanisms. Following the presentations, each president updated attendees on their CU’s plans and activities.

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Iran proved its love for taekwondo on International Taekwondo Day on Sept. 4, when more than 10,000 athletes joined together in celebration. The day was officially observed across all of Iran’s 31 provinces, demonstrating that the sport reaches every corner of the country. More than 10,000 taekwondo athletes, coaches, and referees joined together in Teheran’s Azadi Venue, which can accommodate 12,000 spectators, to celebrate the sport. A deputy to the Sports Minister and a number of high-ranking civil and military officials attended. The celebration featured poomsae performances, a speech delivered by the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Taekwondo Federation and a live performance of the federation’s taekwondo anthem.

World Taekwondo approved the Faroe Islands as its 210th Member National Association (MNA) as the federation continues to grow and develop taekwondo around the world. The Faroe Islands Taekwondo Federation presented its proposal to the World Taekwondo Council at their meeting in Moscow on Dec. 5. “I am delighted to welcome the Faroe Islands to World Taekwondo,” World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue said. “The foundation of the Faroe Islands Taekwondo Federation is a touching story of a determined young athlete who created a legacy of taekwondo in the islands.” The Faroe Islands Taekwondo Federation was founded in 2017 from a taekwondo school that was formed just two years prior by Høgni Kunoy Dávason, a 10-year-old boy with a black belt in taekwondo. With a population of just 52,000 people, the Faroe Islands has been a self-governing region of Denmark since 1948 and competes in the Olympic Games under the Danish National Olympic Committee. President of the Faroe Islands Taekwondo Federation Vivian Chodziuk Guðjonsson said: “We are so happy to be accepted into World Taekwondo. This really means a lot to us.” “We would like to thank the hard work and assistance of the Danish Taekwondo Federation, who have helped to expand our horizons to international, as well as national, competitions,” she said. “The Faroe Islands Taekwondo Federation is extremely excited about the future of taekwondo in our country as we hope to expand taekwondo in the Faroe Islands and promote the values of taekwondo worldwide.” The federation hopes to establish clubs in the towns of Torshavn and Klaksvík.

WT Hosts 1st Workshop with CU Presidents

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Visits by Ethiopia, Hong Kong

Ethiopian Taekwondo Federation President Meets Choue at WT HQ

Guinea-Bissau Scouts Taekwondo Talent ahead of 2022 Youth Olympics

High kicking action was underway in Guinea-Bissau in July, when taekwondo clubs from different regions of the country gathered to do battle in a talent-spotting tournament ahead of the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games, to be held in Senegal. The event, the Dakar 2022 African Youth Games Talent Capture Tournament, was promoted by the Guinea-Bissau Olympic Committee and took place from July 22-25 at the National School of Physical Education and Sport in the African nation. It was attended by athletes between the ages of eight and 15, competing in both poomsae and kyorugi. By the close of the tournament, which was covered by both TV and print media, 25 athletes had won medals. The opening ceremony took place in the presence of many VIPs.

The International Olympic Committee and Olympic Solidarity Fund generously sponsored accommodation for the young athletes at Hotel Malaika over four days. “I was very gratified to learn that this tournament was successfully concluded in Guinea-Bisau, which was welcomed into the World Taekwondo family in 2017,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “Currently, the taekwondo elite is focused on Tokyo 2020, but beyond that, Dakar 2022 is very central in our calendar and I am confident that Guinea-Bissau will be well represented.”

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Hong Kong Taekwondo Association President Visits WT HQ

Ethiopian Taekwondo Federation President Dawit Asfaw visited WT Headquarters in Seoul on July 10 to discuss the sport’s development in Ethiopia.

Hong Kong Taekwondo Association President Carl Ching Men Ky and Vice President Louis Ching visited WT HQ in Seoul on Aug. 6 to discuss with WT President Chungwon Choue how to expand and improve taekwondo in Hong Kong.

WT Head Asked to Form Small States Federation by San Marino Officials

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World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue met Comitato Olimpico Nazional Sammarinese (CONS) President Gian Primo Giardi on June 14 in San Marino, a mountainous microstate surrounded by northeast Italy. Also joining the meeting were CONS General Secretary Eros Bologna, President of the Federazione Sammarinese Arti Marziali Maurizio Mazza, President of the San Marino Taekwondo Club Giovanni Ugolini and San Marino National Anti-Doping Organization President Claudio Muccioli. Issues discussed included taekwondo’s status in San Marino, and the republic’s taekwondo qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the Games of the Small States that will be held in Andorra in 2021. CONS is actively supporting these projects with special events. After the meeting, Giardi asked Choue to create a Small States Taekwondo Federation for the development of taekwondo in the small states of Europe.

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CISM Salutes Taekwondo TROOPS Able Seaman Yong and Private Kamalov were recognized and awarded at the 74th CISM General Assembly and Congress in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 22-30. The two taekwondo athletes were chosen from among all the athletes of CISM’s 26 sports and 138 member nations. World Taekwondo congratulates both athletes on their excellent achievements and the positive example they have set in representing the sport of taekwondo on the global stage. It is the first time in CISM’s 71-year history that one male and one female athlete have been selected for an Athlete of the Year award. The two awardees were selected following a three-phase selection process which culminated with a final vote by the CISM Board of Directors. Candidates’ accomplishments in 2018 as well as their display of the CISM values of fair play and military discipline were taken into consideration when selecting the recipients of the awards.

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aekwondo athletes Yvette Yong (Able Seaman, Royal Canadian Navy) and Rafael Kamalov (Private, Ground Forces of the Russian Federation) have been named as the International Military Sports Council (CISM) Female and Male Athlete of the Year 2018, respectively.

Taekwondo Deploys Major Presence at World Military Games

WT Marches in Lock Step with CISM

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orld Taekwondo signed an MOU with the International Military Sports Council (CISM) to enhance mutually beneficial collaboration between the two organizations on May 7. The MOU was signed on the sidelines of SportAccord 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia by World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue and CISM President Colonel Hervé Piccirillo. The MOU outlines a series of principles across collaboration, engagement, practice and development, competitions, and promotion and communication. Key items include upgrading the level of taekwondo competitions within CISM events, adding team taekwondo and freestyle poomsae events to the CISM Games, and helping support training and education of taekwondo officials within the CISM. “We are delighted to sign this MOU with CISM,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “We share many of the same values: discipline and respect are central principles of both our organisations. The MOU will ensure the promotion of taekwondo in the military sports movement and the promotion of the role of taekwondo in military sports structures.”

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aekwondo had a high profile at the 7th CISM World Military Games, held between Oct. 23-26, in Wuhan, China. Taekwondo fielded the second largest contingent of players among all disciplines at the multi-sport event. Taekwondo deployed 178 male athletes, 84 female athletes and 150 officials – a total of 412 persons, from 47 countries – to the World Military Games. WT President Chungwon Choue met International Military Sports Council (CISM) President Colonel Hervé Piccirillo on the sidelines of the event in Wuhan, where Piccirillo told Choue how impressed he had been with the high taekwondo turnout.

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WT Educator Certification Courses Offered in Muju and Wuxi

The 1st and 2nd WT Educator Certification Courses, designed to train instructors who will then teach national taekwondo coaches, were held in Taekwondowon in Muju, Korea, and at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Wuxi, China, on March 9-11 and June 14-16,

respectively. Both were held under the auspices of WT and the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation. The courses covered a variety of topics – competition rules, safeguarding athletes, anti-doping, medical and other emergency management, WT history and culture, and much more. Participants who successfully passed the compulsory examination on the last day of the course became eligible to teach WT Coach Education Courses themselves - generating an ink-blot strategy for WT, according to WT President Chungwon Choue. “Those who take and pass this course will be certified to pass their newly acquired skills and knowledge on to coaches in their home countries, and from there, the expertise will spread throughout their federations,” he said.

Readying Referees for Tokyo 2020 WT International Referee Selection and Training Camps for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games held across the globe Around WT

WT Coach Certification Courses Held across Africa The first World Taekwondo Coach Certification Course took place from Oct. 3-4 in Cairo, Egypt, with 222 coaches attending. The second course took place from Nov. 16-17 in Rabat, Morocco, with 380 coaches. The third took place from Dec. 15-16 in Abuja, Nigeria, with 101 coaches. The fouth took place in Khartoum, Sudan, from Dec. 26-27 with 68 coaches. The courses covered a variety of topics, including codes of ethics, safeguarding, medical and emergency care, anti-doping and mental health awareness.

2019 Poomsae Technical Meeting Takes Place in Muju, Korea The 2019 WT Poomsae Technical Meeting took place from Nov. 17-19, in Taekwondowon, Muju, Korea. A total of 54 participants from 33 countries joined this course to upgrade their knowledge of poomsae. Amended poomsae competition rules as of 2019, scoring criteria for 2020, and guidelines of poomsae performance based on scoring criteria were introduced.

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Africa-Europe Referee Camp

Pan America Referee Camp

Asia-Oceania Referee Camp

MOSCOW, Russia March 1-4, 2019

MEXICO CITY, Mexico April 6-8, 2019

WUXI, China April 18-21, 2019

87 International Referees from 43 Countries

46 International Referees from 16 Countries

79 International Referees from 30 Countries

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25th Anniversary of Taekwondo’s Olympic Adoption Celebrated Week of joint World Taekwondo and International Taekwon-Do Federation demonstrations begins in Vienna

VIENNA, Austria April 5, 2019

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WT and the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) performed a joint demonstration on April 5, in Vienna, Austria, home to the headquarters of the ITF, to mark the ongoing cooperation between the two federations and to celebrate taekwondo’s 25th anniversary on the Olympic program. It was the first of three joint events held between WT and

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the ITF that took place in Austria and Switzerland over the course of a week. The ITF invited the WT Demonstration Team to take part in the joint demonstration in Vienna, where both teams performed an array of different taekwondo skills. Kicking, breaking, solo patterns and self-defence were all presented.

“This is an important week for taekwondo, a week in which we will celebrate our 25-year history as part of the Olympic Games but also our future of stronger cooperation with the ITF,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “It is a great pleasure to be here in Vienna for this historic WT-ITF joint demonstration.” International Taekwon-Do Federation President Ri Yong Son added: “The joint demonstration performances of the two organizations in Vienna are hoped to serve as an occasion to further strengthen the ties between the two organizations with friendship and harmony.” The demonstration was attended by senior officials from across sport as well as diplomatic officials based in Vienna. The audience was transfixed by the taekwondo performance, notably its powerful board breaks and acrobatic kicks. The demonstration is the latest fruit of the two federations’ protocol of accord, signed during the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games under the guidance of the IOC. Since the signing, WT and the ITF have organised joint events in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2015; Muju, South Korea in 2017; and Pyongyang in North Korea in 2018. The most notable joint demonstration took place at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games just before the Games’ Opening Ceremony. That event showcased taekwondo’s will to contribute to peace on the Korean peninsula and around the world.

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WT, ITF and IOC Gather to Celebrate a Quarter Century of Olympic Taekwondo

Global sports leaders on same page as taekwondo comes together

LAUSANNE, Switzerland April 11, 2019

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WT, the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) teamed up to host an event in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of taekwondo’s inclusion on the Olympic program on April 11. Taekwondo has appeared at every Olympic Games since the 103rd IOC Congress in Paris voted to include taekwondo in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The event, which took place at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, recognized the positive contribution taekwondo has made to the Olympic movement, including innovations in competition rules, formats and technology, and also the promotion of humanitarian and peace-building initiatives. IOC President Thomas Bach, ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, ASOIF President Franceso Ricci Bitti, IOC Executive Board Member and President of UWW Nenad Lalovic, President of International Handball Federation Hassan Moustafa, and FISU President Oleg Matytsin joined WT President Chungwon Choue and ITF President Ri Yong Son to celebrate the event. Officials from WT, the ITF and Taekwondo Europe also attended.

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For the joint demonstartion itself, 28 delegates from WT and 23 delegates from the ITF showcased acrobatic kicking skills, self-defence, graceful poomsae and board breaking - in short, the full range of taekwondo. VIPs delivered messages marking the sport’s strides over the last quarter century. “Today’s event was an important milestone in taekwondo’s history, as it is a huge honour to have been included on the Olympic Games program for the last 25 years,” said Choue. “During that time, we have seen taekwondo grow significantly thanks to the global exposure the Games has provided.” “We have innovated the sport, made it more exciting for athletes and fans and ensured that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime, by anyone regardless of age, gender or ability,” Choue continued. “We are committed to fulfilling our social responsibility and making a major contribution to social development and humanitarian causes.” “The joint demonstration at this day will be marked in history,” said ITF President Ri Yong Sun. “With the profound philosophy and

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characteristic spirit of taekwondo, the ITF has devoted itself to building up civilized human society and will continue its cause in conformity with the goal and purpose of the Olympics to encourage and contribute to the construction of a peaceful human society, which ensures the dignity of humans.“ “I was fascinated by taekwondo since I was young, and my life has been changed entirely,” double Olympic medalist Pascal Gentil of France said. “Since then, I have been keeping to the principles of taekwondo, which are respect and self-discipline.” “WT transformed a Korean martial art into one of the popular sports in the world, and WT also has developed the men’s sport into a sport with gender equality,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “WT opened a pathway to sport participation for refugees and provided motivation for the creation of Olympic refugee teams and the establishment of the Olympic Refuge Foundation.” He concluded, “I wish to thank taekwondo for demonstrating the power of sport in contributing to

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peace. I hope these two organizations will continue the collaboration they commited to in Nanjing, China in 2014, which I witnessed.” That year, under the eyes of Bach, the ITF and WT signed a protocol of accord. That subsequently enabled the two federations to jointly organise taekwondo events in Russia, South Korea and North Korea. The latest agreement between WT and ITF was signed on Nov. 2, 2018, in Pyongyang, North Korea to enhance cooperation. The joint demonstration in Lausanne marks the latest step in the ongoing collaboration between the two federations. In addition to the taekwondo demonstrations and speeches, in a truly special event, two taekwondo legends - WT Council Members Kook-hyun Jung of Korea and Metin Sahin of Turkey - held a re-match after 34 years. These two masters - both clearly fit despite their ages - had last competed at the final of the WT World Championships in 1985.

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UN staffers enjoy scorching demo of taekwondo unity in Geneva GENEVA, Switzerland April 12, 2019

WT and the ITF showcased the power of taekwondo to promote peace during a joint demonstration at the United Nations Office in Geneva, or UNOG on April 12. It was the fourth demonstration held over the last week to mark the 25th anniversary of taekwondo being included on the Olympic program. It also celebrated the growing collaboration between the two federations.

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Boards Smash, Hands Clap at United Nations

The UN office in Geneva, a symbol of unity, collaboration and international peace, provided an ideal setting for the joint demonstration, sending a strong message about taekwondo’s power to teach values that transcend sport. UN Geneva Director General Michael Moller, ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps as well as board members and staff from international organizations watched with awe as 28 delegates from WT and 23 delegates from the ITF showcased the skill, excitement and drama of taekwondo. The athletes performed gravity-defying kicks, spectacular board breaks, self-defense moves and graceful poomsae skills. Many members of the audience, unfamiliar with taekwondo, were clearly astonished. This is the second time WT has visited the UN offices in Geneva, after an initial visit in 2016 to discuss humanitarian and peace-building initiatives. The WT Demonstration Team had the honor of performing a demonstration during that visit. Prior to the performance, Moller said, “We are proactively looking for ways to strengthen our cooperation with international sport federations. We are doing this because we see important synergies between the work of sport federations and international organizations. Sport is an important enabler to reach out to young people worldwide and to disseminate the values enshrined in the UN Charter.” “It is an honor to be back at the UN office here in Geneva; WT and the UN share many of the same values,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “It was at the UN headquarters in New York in 2015 that we first announced the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF). Since then, we have supported a number of humanitarian and peace -building initiatives all around the world.” Choue noted the importance of the venue. “Today was a symbolic moment for our sport as it was the first time that WT and the ITF have performed together at the UN,” he said. “We have different rules, use different equipment and some of the techniques used by our athletes have diverged, but as today’s event has proven, we are moving towards unity.” WT and the UN have enjoyed a close relationship for many years, particularly in providing opportunities for refugees. “The ITF have conducted joint demonstrations with WT several times in the past with the purpose to unify taekwondo,” said ITF President Ri Yong Sun. “Taekwondo is the legacy and pride of mankind as it promotes people’s health and aspires for peace and justice. I hope this historic event will be the opportunity to unify taekwondo.” Prior to the event at UNOG, a WT and ITF joint demonstration had taken place at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) under the theme of “Taekwondo for Peace.”

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TAEKWONDO HITS THE STREETS BUDAPEST, Hungary Sept. 15, 2019

Taekwondo gets a funky new format as it moves off the mats and onto the concrete

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Taekwondo made a seismic impact on Sept. 15 at the inaugural World Urban Games in Budapest, Hungary, showcasing kicks, flips and tricks in a brand-new competition format designed to appeal to youth and young adults. The taekwondo demonstration event took place amid the three-day Urban Games, an all-new competition that takes place under the banner of the Global Associations of International Sports Federations or GAISF. Taekwondo was demonstrated, rather than competed. Members of the elite-level WT Demonstration Team provided the manpower that showcased the sport in Budapest. Urban Games taekwondo is poomsae- and breaking-focused. There are four categories: individual (male/female); pair (one male and one female); team (male/female) and mixed team. Teams comprise five members. In Round 1, athletes execute basic techniques such as recognized poomsae. Subsequent rounds are dedicated to jumping front kicks, flying side kicks, spinning kicks, consecutive kicks and acrobatic kicks. The final round is a freestyle performance encompassing breaking, dance, poomsae and acrobatic kicks assisted by teammates. As the name of the event suggests, it takes place out of doors. However, a matted area is required, and street fashion is worn together with regular taekwondo uniforms. The all-new World Urban Games encompasses both competition and showcase elements. The competition element in Budapest covered basketball (3×3); cycling (BMX freestyle park); dance sport (breaking); flying disc (freestyle); gymnastics (parkour); and roller-skating (freestyle). Showcase

events, in addition to taekwondo, were: modern Pentathlon (laser run) and rowing (indoor rowing). Live coverage from Budapeset was broadcast by Eurosport and the Olympic Channel; updates were posted on the World Urban Games Twitter account. “The World Urban Games is a great chance for our athletes to foster new friendships and showcase taekwondo’s widespread appeal to youth and young adult audiences,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “We have developed an urban taekwondo ‘extreme battle’ format which challenges players to push the limits of both athletic ability and personal creativity.” GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli was upbeat. “Among the demonstration sports, we had a great one presented by taekwondo that was one of the most appreciated sports,” he said. “It was the exaltation of the martial arts values: discipline, respect for the rules, for the opponent, for diversity. It was an extraordinary contribution that highlighted how the power of sport can build a better society. Also for this reason the taekwondo demonstration has been really appreciated by the public.” Choue and Chiulli meet during the Chungju 2019 World Martial Arts Masterships held on Aug. 30-Sep. 6, where Chiulli invited taekwondo to join the World Urban Games. Urban Taekwondo is just the latest iniative that takes the sport outside stadia, and gives it a new and appealing look designed to catch the eye of youth. A previous format, Beach Taekwondo, was inaugurated in 2017.

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WT Head Awarded Australian Honor

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World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue emphasized the power of sport to empower the powerless during his keynote speech at the United Through Sports Closing Ceremony on May 10 that followed SportAccord 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. Addressing representatives from International Federations, Choue spoke of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) and how it has provided happiness and hope to young people in refugee camps around the world. “Sport is not just about entertainment - we want to support and empower the powerless,” Choue said. “Most young children in refugee camps have limited opportunities. Through taekwondo and the THF we have given young people structure and access to physical activity which is fun and supports a healthy lifestyle.”

He stressed the positive benefits of sport that go beyond physicality. Taekwondo, he said, “...promotes self-discipline, self-respect and also respect for other people.” In addition to taekwondo per se, the THF is teaching young refugees the importance of Olympism, world peace and how to live as global citizens. “But this is not only for taekwondo,” Choue continued. “We have asked all Olympic International Federations to join us and teach their sports to refugee children. We are sharing our facilities with other sports to spread the Olympic spirit.” The United Through Sports initiative was established in 2017 with the aim of using sport to make a difference to the lives of children all over the world. Around WT

WT President Chungwon Choue was honored with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President’s Trophy on May 6 in Gold Coast, Australia in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Olympic sport and his role as president of WT since 2004. The award was presented to Choue by AOC President and IOC Member John Coates at a special ceremony attended by members of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). Choue was joined by presidents of other International Federations in receiving the award. Speaking following the ceremony, President Choue said: “I am honoured to receive this prestigious trophy and the fact that it was presented in the company of my friends and colleagues at ASOIF makes it all the more special. I have dedicated my life to taekwondo and the promotion of the Olympic ideals for the last 15 years. Every day we see the power sport has to bring happiness and hope around the world. With this comes great responsibility and we all have a duty to ensure that we maximise the benefits sport brings to people of all ages, genders, nationalities and abilities, on and off the field of play.”

Choue Talks up THF Mission at United Through Sports Conference

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WT Adds Momentum to Sustainability Initiatives

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IOC, Dow Award WT for Sustainability Commitment

Photo provided by IOC

World Taekwondo has been awarded the joint International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Dow ‘Carbon Initiative Award’ in recognition of the federation’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and contributing to a more sustainable future. The award was presented to World Taekwondo at the Sustainability Workshop on Oct. 30 at the SportAccord IF Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland. World Taekwondo was one of just 10 Olympic and non-Olympic International Federations to be presented the award, reinforcing WT’s position as a leader in deliverin g sustainable initiatives. “It is a great honour to receive this award from the IOC and Dow in recognition of the work we are doing in sustainability,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “We will continue to work hard to ensure that World Taekwondo considers the impact on the environment in all its decision-making.” The IOC and its worldwide Olympic Partner Dow launched the award in August to incentivise IFs and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to work towards a tangible framework that reduces their greenhouse gas emissions. The IFs and NOCs that have signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework (UNFCCC), including World Taekwondo, have committed their organisations to pay back their carbon offsets to help balance the residual carbon emissions. In order to comply, IFs are required to present detailed data on their annual carbon footprint, as well as carbon reduction plans. The World Taekwondo Sustainability Strategy consists of a total of 17 recommendations developed to achieve sustainable events and a clear and transparent governance framework. In addition to WT, nine other federations won the award: International Equestrian Federation; International Sambo Federation; International Ski Federation; International Golf Federation; International Ice Hockey Federation; International Orienteering Federation; World Rowing; World Rugby; and World Sailing.

Around WT

World Taekwondo today took another step forward in the implementation of its sustainability commitment as WT President Chungwon Choue signed a pledge to implement the principles enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Sports for Climate Action Declaration. The letter, addressed to the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, was signed on May 19 in the presence of IOC President Thomas Bach on the sidelines of the Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships. In the letter, World Taekwondo commits to working collaboratively with its peers and relevant stakeholders to develop, implement and enhance the climate action agenda in sports. The signing forms part of recommendations 5 and 14 of the World Taekwondo Sustainability Strategy, which advocate alignment with the IOC Sustainability Strategy and contribution to the achievement of specific Sustainable Development Goals. The World Taekwondo Sustainability Strategy consists of

17 recommendations developed to achieve sustainable events and a clear and transparent governance framework. It was presented at the World Taekwondo Conference and subsequently approved by the General Assembly in Manchester. It provides a holistic framework to ensure World Taekwondo, its Continental Unions and Member National Associations (MNAs) are functioning sustainably. World Taekwondo, in implementing the strategy, will expand upon recommendations that go beyond climate action to encompass sustainable practices and policies across gender equality, financial compliance, ethics and integrity, events management, marketing and fair and clean sport. This comprehensive strategy draws from international best practice and sets World Taekwondo apart as a federation taking concrete action to address sustainability. “Climate change is an issue that affects all of us and is something we all have a responsibility to take action against,” Choue said. “At World Taekwondo we want to ensure that sustainability is enshrined in everything we do; from minimising our impact on the environment all the way through to implementing sustainable policies in the way our federation is governed and operates.” He noted that WT is well-placed to do the right thing. “As the governing body of a global sport we have a platform to promote best-practice principles to the widest possible audience,” he said. The Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships embody sustainable practices: The event was organised to minimise its environmental footprint. All hotels are within walking distance of the venue, and all equipment is being re-used.

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Great Night for Taekwondo WT, Iran’s Hadipour, win FISU awards; MOU signed

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It was a very special night for taekwondo. On Nov. 15, at the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Gala Dinner in Turin, Italy, WT received the “Best International Sports Federation” award while Iranian taekwondo fighter Armin Hadipour was named the organization’s “Best Male Athlete.” WT received the award in recognition of the federation’s significant contribution to the development of the university sports movement. Universiade veteran Hadipour was awarded following his gold medal at the 2019 Summer Universiade - his third win at three consecutive Universiades. Taekwondo became a compulsory sport at the Summer Universiade in 2017. Since then, World Taekwondo has worked closely with FISU. FISU also noted the work of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF), which is leading the way to improve the lives of refugees and displaced people by teaching the values of Olympism through sport. The two organisations formalized cooperation ahead of the gala dinner during the FISU General Assembly as they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) focused on promoting world peace. Under the MOU, WT and FISU commit to creating a “Sport Peace Corps” which, through various sporting activities and training and education programs, will cultivate future leaders and provide hope for deserving and underprivledged people. “It is a great honor to receive this prestigious award,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “I would like to acknowledge the excellent work that FISU has done over the years, especially on our shared goals of gender equality, innovation, and equal opportunities for all.” Choue also congratulated Hadipour on his achievement. The FISU Gala is held every two years on the occasion of the FISU General Assembly. Ten awards were presented.

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WT Boosts Olympic Broadcasting Services and Olympic Channel Cooperation

WT President Chungwon Choue visited Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) in Madrid to meet with OBS CEO and Olympic Channel Executive Director Yiannis Exarchos and General Manager of the Olympic Channel, Mark Parkman, as well as their teams from OBS and the Olympic Channel on Nov. 19. “We are committed to continuing to work closely with World Taekwondo and look forward to being part of another milestone for this sport in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and for the first time, the sport´s inclusion in the Paralympic Games,” said Exarchos. The extension of the Broadcast Partnership of WT with the Olympic Channel was discussed. Additionally, partic-

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ipants discussed initial broadcast plans for taekwondo at the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games, as well as broadcast opportunities for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The work of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation was also recognized. Other attendees for the visit included: John Cullen, Director of Broadcast Operations of World Taekwondo; Marco Ienna, Director of the Lausanne Office of World Taekwondo; Mark Wallace, Chief Content Officer of OBS; Kostas Kapatais, Senior Programming Producer of OBS; Jochen Farber, Head of the Lausanne Office for the Olympic Channel Services and John Palfrey, Director of Stakeholder Relations for the Olympic Channel Services.


Booyoung Delivers Dreams with WT

Financially Challenged Olympic Hopefuls Get Helping Hand

Scholarships awarded to six nations at Tashkent Cadet Championships Around WT

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t the Tashkent 2019 WT Cadet Championships in Uzbekistan on Aug. 9, six nations were awarded Booyoung Scholarships. The recipient MNAs were Eswatini, Haiti, Kuwait, Palestine, the Philippines and Tajikistan. Each received US$5,000 from Booyoung, World Taekwondo’s Global Partner. The funds are donated to develop taekwondo in the recipient

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countries, so expanding taekwondo’s player base around the world while offering opportunities to those in developing nations. “I express my deep gratitude to Booyoung for their generosity in making these donations,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “They are an important pillar in WT’s ongoing efforts to ensure that taekwondo is a sport for all, and that no athlete is left behind.”

ith the track to Tokyo 2020 getting shorter and shorter, the 2019 “Booyoung Dream Program” took place from Nov. 22 to Dec. 3 in Muju, Korea. The program, sponsored by Booyoung, offers athletes suffering from limited financial means the opportunity to come to Korea for best-of-breed Olympic preparation training. This year’s athletes hailed from 18 countries; the program aims at assisting them ahead of their respective Continental Qualification Tournaments. Among them were three refugee athletes, each holding an IOC Refugee Scholarship. “It is my dream to be a flag bearer of the Refugee Team in Tokyo 2020, and I want to win a medal as well,” said Kasra Mehdipournejad, one of the refugee athletes. “I thank WT for creating this great program, which is really helpful for me. I hope the Booyoung Dream program lasts for a long time.”

The program took place at the WT Central Training Center at Taekwondowon in Muju, and was held in cooperation with the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation. The Booyoung Dream Program has a legacy of success. A previous alumni of the program was Ahmad Abughaush, the athlete who went on to win gold in Rio in 2016, granting his country, Jordan, its first-ever Olympic medal. Athletes on the program visited the WT Headquarters in Seoul on Nov. 25. “It is a huge pleasure to meet such fine athletes in the midst of their Olympic preparations and I hope all of you achieve your dream,” WT President Chungwon Choue said. “I am grateful to our global partner, Booyoung, for offering them this precious chance.” World Taekwondo Peace Corps Foundation Secretary General Hyun-suk Shin also encouraged the program athletes.

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Taekwondo Africa

Taekwondo Asia

Taekwondo Europe

Taekwondo Oceania

Taekwondo Pan America

Ahmed Fouly

Kyu Seok Lee

Athanasios Pragalos

John Kotsifas

Ji Ho Choi

Taekwondo Africa in 2019 achieved many of its targets, and is well on the road to a successful Olympic year. We hope that with the joint efforts of WT and Taekwondo Africa in 2020, the number of MNAs will increase by two, meaning our CU will be embracing every African country under its banner. This year, Taekwondo Africa concentrated on para taekwondo and poomsae. 2019 started with the 1st Nigeria Taekwondo International Open Championship (G1) which were held in Abuja, Nigeria, on Feb. 8-10. This was closely followed by the 2019 African Para Taekwondo Championships, which were held in Sahl Hasheesh, Hurghada, Egypt on Feb. 20. Judging by participant numbers, it was a big success. Egypt hosted the 7th Egypt Open Championship which were held for Seniors on Feb. 23-24 and for Cadets on Feb. 21-22, also in Sahl Hasheesh. On April 6-7, Morocco hosted the 3rd WT President’s Cup – Africa Region in Rabat. In the same spirit, Morocco hosted the 12th Edition of the All African Games in Rabat, on August with the taekwondo events taking place on Aug. 21-23. Taekwondo Africa hosted the 3rd WT Beach Championships in Sahl Hasheesh, Egypt, on Oct. 11-13. Taekwondo Africa is proud that five males and one female succeeded in the 1st WT Educator Certification Course, held from March 9-11 in Muju, Korea. This initiative provides WT with a pool of qualified instructors to deliver standardized WT courses. Three MNAs hosted WT Level I Instructor Courses: Egypt from Oct. 3-4; Morocco from Nov. 16-17; and Sudan from Dec. 26-27. The Tunisia Taekwondo Federation hosted the 43rd International Poomsae Referee Seminar and the 40th International Poomsae Referee Refresher Course from March 18-21; the 111th International Kyorugi Referee Seminar & 125th International Kyorugi Referee Refresher Course from March 22-25; and the 7th Para Kyorugi Referee Seminar from March 26-28, 2019. All were held in Hammamet. I end by saying, “One World, One Sport Taekwondo!”

It’s overwhelming to greet the New Year once again. We are a global family that gets together under the theme of taekwondo. Like the various changes that we have undergone in our lives from birth, our taekwondo family also cannot avoid changes to achieve what it wants. The best way to respond to these inevitable changes is to continue to study and accumulate knowledge. Based on this knowledge, we need to lead change or adapt to change quickly to keep up with the times. In addition, as the best martial art and sport in the world, we all should do our best to make taekwondo remain as an official Olympic event so that we can pass on a better environment to our future generations. May you all have a great year and a wonderful time. Happy New Year!

Taekwondo Europe can look back at yet another amazing year! Europe remains the leading CU in the world with a record number of athletes participating in our events and a record number of 28 G-ranked events on our continent, including European Championships in eight different member countries. Our flagship event, the G4 Extra European Championships for seniors in Italy was a huge success. Not only did we see the best of the best competing, but the OC showed their creativity by creating an amazing spectator experience via sport presentation. AI 2019, we used social media platforms to promote our sport, creating high-quality teaser videos and highlight videos in which the best moments were captured. In 2020, social media will continue to be our main channel of communication with our athletes and coaches. We are on the eve of the 2020 Olympics. With 48 quotas up for grabs, 13 European countries have won 28 quotas in this early stage. I am certain that Europe will once more flourish at the Games. In 2020, a European athlete has the chance to write history: Jade Jones will do battle for her 3rd consecutive Olympic gold medal. Being present at three Olympics, while remaining at the top of her weight division, is deserving of huge respect. Taekwondo Europe will work closely with WT and our MNAs in 2020 to introduce WT Coach Seminars throughout Europe. And in a first, Taekwondo Europe will host the European Championships for Small States in San Marino in April 2020. "Innovations in Motion" is the slogan of Taekwondo Europe. In 2020 my team and I will work to make sure our beloved sport further develops in all European countries. My appreciation goes to all international referees, MNA officials, committee chairpersons and members, council members and staff for their dedication. I wish you all a healthy 2020!

Taekwondo Oceania has been extremely busy. In 2019, we saw the region play host to six major international events: The 2019 President’s Cup - G2; Oceania Para Open Championships - G2/G4; the 2019 Australian Open - G2; and the IR Course and Refresher - Poomsae and Kyorugi - (July 1-4, 2019, Gold Coast, Australia) ; and the Pacific Games- G4 and the 9th Oceania Taekwondo Championships - G4, in Apia, Samoa. Taekwondo Oceania also organized and funded 27 participants from various Oceania MNAs to a regional Olympic Qualification Training Camp that was held in Korea between Nov. 27 to Dec. 8. The initiative starts a wider push by Taekwondo Oceania to grow our regional capability in both para and able-bodied taekwondo with the focus on Olympic qualifications in 2020. Among those on the course were participants from Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. In 2020 we will see the region host its Olympic Qualifications Tournament, where, for the first time, para taekwondo will also feature. Both events will be held on the Gold Coast, Australia. 2020 will also see us host further events - for example we are planning major events in Tahiti. Events scheduled for 2020 will continue to provide valuable experiences to our athletes. These events would not be possible without the support of our MNAs and the OCs. Further to 2019’s commitment, in 2020 I will continue to use my position as president of Taekwondo Oceania and as a WT Council Member to work for the benefit of all member nations and all Oceania athletes. I am confident that hard work and partnership with WT will bring new and exciting opportunities for the Oceania region. Again, I want to take the opportunity to thank all member nations for their encouragement and support and I particularly want to thank the Taekwondo Oceania Board Members for their hard work and dedication. I also wish to thank the hundreds of volunteers, referees, technical officials, coaches and MNAs who have assisted Taekwondo Oceania over the past year.

On behalf of Taekwondo Pan America, I would like to extend sincere wishes to you for 2020! The first half of 2020 looks very busy ahead of Tokyo 2020. The following events are scheduled in the first half of the year. 1. World Taekwondo G-Ranking Events: Mexico Open (Feb. 6-8); US Open (Feb. 27-March 1); Costa Rica Open (March 13-14); Puerto Rico Open (April 3-5); WT President’s Cup (May 21-24); and Pan Am Open (June 13-14). 2. WT Pan America Events: Pan America Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games & Paralympic Games: San Jose, Costa Rica, March 10-12. Pan Am Senior Poomsae and Kyorugi Championships, and Pan Am Para Taekwondo Champinoships: Heredia, Costa Rica, June 10-11. 3. WT Coach Certification Seminars: WT Level 2 Coach Certification Courses: Prior to various WT Pan America and WT G Events WT Pan America Instructor Certification Course: Various MNAs 4. Multi Sports Games: Sucre 2020 Bolivarian Junior Games: Sucre, Bolivia, April 17-May 1. As noted, the official Pan Am Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 is being organized by the Costa Rica Taekwondo Federation. As requested by many MNAs, WT Pan America will again offer small country athletes and coaches a training program in Santo Domingo in February to offer their players the best possible opportunities. The first half of 2020 will be very busy for all members of the WT Pan America family as we schedule events prior to the Olympics to provide the best opportunities for our players to get maximum ranking points. Please remember that the WT Pan America EXCO and Council will always be available to assist and support you in your Olympic endeavors. Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to working with you towards a successful 2020!

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Hockey and Taekwondo Offer Sport, Hope to Refugees

WT, THF and Muaythai to Empower Refugees, Migrant Youth WT, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) and the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing the three parties to cooperate in the promotion of humanitarian and peace-building initiatives. The MOU was inked on July 27, in Bangkok, Thailand, by WT and THF President Chungwon Choue and IFMA President Sakchye Tapsu-

Social Responsibility

WT and THF Get to Grips with International Judo Federation

an during the IFMA General Assembly in Bangkok. Muaythai is Thailand’s famous local sport of kickboxing. Thai IOC Member Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul and Governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand Gongsak Yodmanee were in attendance. Just ahead of the signing ceremony, Choue addressed the General Assembly and provided details of the work WT and the THF have done in refugee camps in countries around the world and also

WT, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF), the Interna-

recognized the excellent work IFMA currently does for the empower-

tional Hockey Federation (FIH) and The Hockey Foundation signed a World Taekwondo (WT), the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation

memorandum of understanding (MOU) focused on the promotion of

(THF) and the International Judo Federation (IJF) signed a memoran-

humanitarian and peace-building initiatives.

dum of understanding (MOU) on May 15 to promote humanitarian, peace and development activities. The MOU was signed by World Taekwondo and THF President

The MOU was signed on June 23 by WT President and THF Chair-

the Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships.

• Promoting sport as a powerful vehicle towards peace, social development and integration of vulnerable populations;

ted to develop close collaboration in:

• Uniting forces in offering sport for development and peace activities,

• Promoting sport as a powerful vehicle towards peace, social develop-

in particular in THF’s existing Humanitarian Taekwondo Center in Azraq

ment and integration of vulnerable populations;

Refugee Camp, Jordan, and potentially other locations worldwide;

• Uniting forces in offering sport for development and peace activities

• Exchanging and sharing of expertise, know-how, information and

in the geographical areas where the THF, WT and IJF are already provid-

publications.

• Exchanging and sharing expertise and information. partner with the IJF to enhance the support we can provide refugees

that sport is a catalyst for social change. Uniting forces to foster devel-

around the world. WT, THF and IJF have delivered many positive pro-

opment and peace through sport is a very positive step. We’re look-

grams in refugee camps and through this MOU our organisations will

ing forward to working together.” It is just the lastest MOU that WT and the THF have signed with other IFs.

IJF President Marius L. Vizer added: “It is a great honour for the IJF to

“I am very pleased that five Olympic sports – wrestling, table ten-

have this partnership. We have great experience and we have initiated

nis, badminton, judo, and now hockey – have joined the call to join

many programs in refugee camps. We are ready to be partners with

our humanitarian activities,” Choue said.

mutual reciprocity and we will deliver a good example for world sport.”

peace activities in the geographical areas where the THF, WT and

Taekwondo Joins Hands with Sambo

IFMA are already providing services, as well as potentially other locations worldwide, whilst exchanging and sharing expertise and information. “The IFMA, under the visionary leadership of their President Sakchye Tapsuan, has done excellent work in supporting young refugees, particularly in Thailand,” said Choue. “They share many of the same values as World Taekwondo and the THF and so we are delighted to be partnering with them to further strengthen the support we are providing refugees all around the world.”

ed this memorandum of understanding with World Taekwondo and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation,” said Batra. “I truly believe

greater opportunities for those who need it the most.”

populations, uniting forces in offering sport for development and

“I am delighted that FIH and The Hockey Foundation have conclud-

World Taekwondo President Choue said: “We are delighted to

be able to work together, share information and ultimately deliver even

towards peace, social development and integration of vulnerable

Under the MOU, the four organizations commit to developing close cooperation in the following areas:

ing services as well as potentially other locations worldwide;

Under the MOU, the three organisations have committed to develop close collaboration in promoting sport as a powerful vehicle

man Chungwon Choue, and FIH President Narinder Dhruv Batra.

Chungwon Choue and IJF President Marius L. Vizer on the sidelines of Under the terms of the MOU, the three organizations have commit-

ment of young refugees.

“With every initiative we undertake, our focus is on forming alliWT and its charity affiliate the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation

ances and using the resources we have to work towards united goals

signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Aug. 30 with the

under the Olympic charter,” said Tapsuan. “We are very much looking

International Sambo Federation, or FIAS, to advance youth inclusion

forward to joining forces with WT and THF under the ever-dedicated

in sport and related events globally.

President Choue, for whom I have utmost respect. “

Under the terms of the MOU, the three organisations commit to

The IFMA holds a multi-sport tournament in the heart of Bangkok

develop close collaboration in promoting sport as a powerful vehi-

each month, bringing refugees and migrant youths from the north

cle towards peace, social development and integration of vulnerable

of Thailand and giving them an opportunity to engage in a healthy

populations, uniting forces in offering sport for development and

lifestyle as well as providing an inclusive environment.

peace activities in the geographical areas where THF, WT and FIAS are already providing services, as well as potentially other locations worldwide, whilst exchanging and sharing expertise and information. This will require enhanced communications among the three organizations, and joint support for, and promotion of, each other’s initiatives.

“I believe in the power of the sports platform and believe every child deserves a chance on the playing field of life,“ Tapsuan said. The MOU signing took place the day before the Bangkok Urban Youth Tournament (BUYT). BUYT gives young people from various socio-economic backgrounds an opportunity to participate in a variety of sports and make

The MOU was signed by WT President Chungwon Choue and FIAS

new friends, and encourages a healthy and active lifestyle. The WT

President Vasily Shestakov in Chungju, Korea, on the sidelines of the

Demonstration Team was invited to perform two demonstrations,

Chungju 2019 World Martial Arts Masterships. The Masterships form

one during the BUYT at Lan Muay Kru Suar and one at the IFMA World

part of a global martial arts festival that takes place in the town. Sam-

Championships at the Sport Authority of Thailand on July 20-29.

bo is a Russia-originated, grappling-based combat sport. 232

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Social Responsibility

Taekwondo, Wrestling

‘Aspire 2gether for Peace’

at Azraq Refugee Camp Taekwondo and wrestling are two very different combat sports, but that did not stop them joining forces to empower refugees on July 19

WT, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) and United World Wrestling (UWW) hosted their first-ever joint training event, named Aspire 2gether for Peace, in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan on July 19. The joint event was a tangible outcome of the landmark memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between WT, the THF and UWW on Oct. 22, 2018. The Aspire 2gether for Peace event saw UWW unite with WT and THF to deliver wrestling training to refugees at the existing Humanitarian Taekwondo Center. 234

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Social Responsibility

The event was attended by a senior delegation from all three organisations including WT President and THF Chairman Chungwon Choue, Olympic gold medalists and THF/WT Ambassadors Jingyu Wu and Ahmed Abughaush, and Olympic medalists and UWW Ambassadors Arsen Julfalakyan and Clarissa Chun. IOC Executive Board Member HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein attended on behalf of the IOC. UNHCR delegates also attended the event. Taekwondo players from Azraq Camp performed a taekwondo demonstration which was followed by a wrestling demonstration by the UWW Ambassadors and four local athletes. Wu and Abughaush, and Julfalakyan and Chun, respectively, delivered taekwondo lessons and wrestling lessons to refugee children. “We are delighted to have joined forces with United World Wrestling to show that our MOU was not just words, but the start of a real and tangible partnership which will benefit refugee children around the world,” Choue said. He added that the partnership would be sustainable. “This is not just a one-off event but the start of a longterm commitment,” he said. “By offering taekwondo and wrestling lessons at our Humanitarian Taekwondo Center here in Azraq, we are able to reach even more young people and provide even greater support.” Arsen Julfalakyan (ARM) UWW ambassador and Athletes Commission Member, also spoke. “It is great to contribute to the lives of the refugees through sport and thanks to the opportunity given by the WT and THF, wrestling is in the Azraq sporting program,” he said. “The refugees need sport in their lives which will enhance their current difficult situation. UWW is very proud to inspire future generations.” 236

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Social Responsibility

Taekwondo Players on Track for Tokyo as IOC Refugee Team Shapes up

leading IFs spearheding outreach to refugees. WT and its related charity, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, have undertaken multiple initiatives in countries including Jordan, Nepal, Rwanda and Turkey, offering refugees taekwondo training. “Taekwondo is one of the most economical and deployable sports in the Olympic movement, and that makes it an ideal sport and lifestyle-enhancement program for refugees,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. One of the athletes on the IOC list, Syrian refugee Wael Fawaz Al-Farraj, was the first black belt produced by the WT/THF flagship project, the Humanitarian Taekwondo Center in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan. A new, fully dedicated taekwondo training facility was inaugurated at the Center on April 1, 2018. The taekwondo athletes on the list are:

Seven taekwondo athletes have made the list of refugee athlete scholarship holders who are eligible to be part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020, WT learned on June 21. The full list, which has been updated to comprise a total of 42 refugee athlete scholarship holders, was announced by the IOC. The IOC decided, at the IOC Session in October 2018, to field an IOC Refugee Olympic Team at Tokyo 2020. The first such team has competed in Rio in 2016. Both the IOC and WT have – in recognition of the global refugee crisis – been strong supporters of refugee athletes, and WT is one of the

238

Country of origin

Currently living in

Weight

Training location

Scholarship start date

Wael Fawaz Al-Farraj

Syria

Jordan

M-58kg

Azraq Refugee Camp

June 2018

Amir Mohammad Hosseini

Islamic Republic of Iran

Germany

M-58kg

Dusseldorf/Nuremberg

January 2019

Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi

Islamic Republic of Iran

The Netherlands

W-49kg

The Hague

May 2018

Kasra Mehdipournejad

Islamic Republic of Iran

Germany

M-80kg

Berlin

January 2019

Abdullah Sediqi

Afghanistan

Belgium

M-68kg

Antwerp

January 2018

Seyed Ehsan Naghibzadeh

Islamic Republic of Iran

Switzerland

M-58kg

Urnäsch, Switzerland

September 2019

Ali Noghandoost

Islamic Republic of Iran

Croatia

M-58kg

Zagreb, Croatia

September 2019

The final composition of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo will be announced in June 2020.

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Suleiman Radwan is feeling empowered: On Oct. 12, he became the latest refugee athlete to earn a black belt in taekwondo. Radwan is the ninth player to secure the prestigious status at the Humanitarian Taekwondo Center at the Azraq Refugee Camp. He came to the camp in 2014 and has only been practicing taekwondo for three years but quickly fell in love with the sport. “I am delighted to have secured a black belt - I have been waiting for this day since I first started taekwondo,” Radwan said. “I would like to thank everyone who helped me get my black belt, especially Coach Asif for his help and training. I hope one day to become a famous taekwondo athlete, coach or referee.” Currently, 75 refugees practice taekwondo at the center every week. The center was built with donations from philanthropists including China Huamin Charity Foundation Chairman Lu Dezhi and Fujairah Crown Prince Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi. In 2017, the prince pledged an annual donation of US$100,000 to WT’s charity affiliate, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, which operates the Azraq Center.

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Social Responsibility

Azraq Center Produces 9th Refugee Black Belt

Chair of China Huamin Charity Foundation Awarded Honorary 7th Dan Black Belt

On Dec. 20 in Wuxi, China, World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue presented an honorary 7th dan black belt certificate to Chairman of the China Huamin Charity Foundation Lu Dezhi for his commitment and contribution to taekwondo and the development projects of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF). Earlier this year, the THF signed a donation partnership with the Huamin Charity Foundation to expand ts initiatives in Africa. In 2018, the THF inaugurated the Humanitarian Taekwondo Center at Azraq Camp in Jordan. The Huamin Charity Foundation has been one of the biggest donors to the project. The Humanitarian Taekwondo Center offers regular training sessions to refugee children. Since its foundation, the taekwondo center has graduated nine black belts. Further projects are also underway to offer more permanent fixtures around the world. Choue announced that the THF plans to establish a taekwondo center at the Markazi Camp in Djibouti with the support of the Huamin Charity Foundation.

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The 2019 DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) Peace Festival took place in Paju, Korea, on June 29 with thousands of taekwondo practitioners taking part to promote a message of world peace. The 2019 DMZ Peace Festival was jointly promoted by GCS International, headed by Chungwon Choue, who also serves as president of World Taekwondo, and the Kukmin Daily, one of Korea’s most influential nationwide newspapers. Paju City, actually a county in Gyeonggi Provice, is north of Seoul and just south of the DMZ that divides the Koreas. It takes about one hour by car to get to the Paju Peace Nuri Park, the festival venue, from Seoul. The inaugural event was organized by the DMZ Peace Festival Organizing Committee and Co. Act, a non-profit organization initially run by high school and college students in the United States. Among supporters of the peace festival were World Taekwondo, the Oughtopian Peace Foundation, Radian QBio, Paju City, the Korean National Tuberculosis Association, the National Unification Advisory Council and the Korea Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Under the theme “Hand in Hand for Peace,” the one-day event aimed to provide free taekwondo education for children in devel-

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oping countries and to promote world peace. Among VIPs attending the inaugural DMZ Peace Festival were Choue; Jae-woon Byun, president of the Kukmin Ilbo; Hwa-young Lee, vice governor for peace of Gyeonggi Province; Jong-whan Choi, mayor of Paju City and Myung-ho Seung, a board member of GCS International and chairman of the Hankook Ilbo. The festival was composed of two parts: an official opening ceremony including taekwondo performances by the WT Taekwondo Demonstration Team and the GCS Global Peace Corps Taekwondo Demonstration Team and an art exhibition along the electric fences of the DMZ near the Peace Nuri Park. Around 5,000 taekwondo practitioners from across Korea also carried out a flash mob performance, wishing for world peace, drawing applause from the spectators. For the art exhibition of the 2019 DMZ Peace Festival, Cooperation Act, a US NGO, received about 500 drawings and paintings in a digital art file from participants outside of Korea. The topic of the art exhibition was world peace. The art pieces were on display in an original size and/or in a postcard size in two designated areas. “We are pleased to work with the Kukmin Daily for the 2019 DMZ Peace Festival through which we want to show the world that taekwondo is a peace-loving Olympic sport,” said Choue. “Sport is a precious tool to bring humans together across political barriers, and World Taekwondo is strongly committed to this goal.”

Taekwondo the Highlight at 2019 GCS International Convention

Taekwondo took center stage at the 2019 GCS International Convention, which took place on Sept. 21, at Chosun University in Gwangju, Korea, where a GCS Global Peace Corps was inauguarated. The convention, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the founding of Seoul-headquartered charity organization GCS International and the 38th UN International Day of Peace, drew approximately 2,200 people from about 20 countries. Founded in 1979, GCS International is a Seoul-based UN-affiliated non-governmental organization headed by Chungwon Choue, who also leads World Taekwondo. With three major spirits of goodwill, cooperation and service, it strives to promote a healthy society, better living, preservation of nature, restoration of human dignity and world peace. With a global membership of 44 national chapters, GCS International was founded by the late academic Young Seek Choue, who proposed the International Day of Peace and the International Year of Peace to the United Nations in 1981 and was unanimously approved by the U.N. General Assembly that year. In 2016, GCS International signed a memorandum of understanding with World Taekwondo and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation to help empower the powerless in developing countries. WT President Chungwon Choue; Sung-geum Hong, acting president of Chosun University; Lu Dezhi, vice chairman of the China Charity Alliance; WT Secretary General Hoss Rafaty; and WT Council Member Inseon Kim attended. At the 2019 GCS International Peace Seminar, Choue made a keynote speech, followed by presentations by Prof. Luc Reychler of Leuven University in Belgium.

Social Responsibility

Taekwondo in Central Role at 1st DMZ Peace Festival

After that, there was a ceremony to inaugurate the GCS Global Peace Corps, followed by a 15-minute joint taekwondo demonstration by about 1,250 members of the GCS Global Taekwondo Peace Corps Korea. In the afternoon, the 2019 GCS Peace Concert took place at the university’s Haeoreum Center in which a 37-member Korea Saxophone Harmony played classic and pop songs, followed by a 20-minute classic song performance by Soprano Jee-hyun Kim and Tenor Jeong-won Lee. The concert was followed by a 30-minute taekwondo musical by members of the Chosun University Taekwondo Demonstration Team. “‘Peace is More Precious than Triumph’ is the title of a book by the late Young Seek Choue, the founder of the GCS Movement, and the words are a precious lesson to all mankind,” Choue, the late academic’s son, said. “In this regard, the inauguration of the GCS Global Peace Corps on the occasion of the 2019 GCS International Convention is very meaningful and brightens the future of the GCS Movement.” He expressed his wish for other sports beyond taekwondo to join the GCS Global Peace Corps, which would ultimately help promote world peace.

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Social Responsibility

WT Chief Takes Center Stage at

Peace and Sport Forum 2019 “Investing in Peace, Acting through Sport”

Choue Details Cross-Sport Collaboration for Refugees

W

T President Chungwon Choue was a key speaker in Monte Carlo, Monaco on Day One of the 12th edition of the Peace and Sport Forum on Dec. 11. “Investing in Peace, Acting through Sport” was the theme of the event, which aimed to identify and share solutions to scaleup investment in long-term efforts, transform societies and leave a sustainable legacy. Choue joined a panel of esteemed guests at the One Monte Carlo Conference Centre on the opening day, addressing over 600 key decision-makers on one of the most pressing topics in sports. Choue’s expertise in this area demonstrated how World Taekwondo is one of the leading International Federations in the development of peace through sport. Choue also spoke about World Taekwondo Cares, which has introduced programs to help get children off the streets and into schools and taekwondo clubs in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the Cares program has also worked on strengthening gender empowerment in Nepal and collaborated with the Cambodian government to educate about, and campaign against, sexual violence. Choue, who is also chairman of the Taekwondo Humanitarian

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Foundation (THF), spoke about the THF Humanitarian Taekwondo Center, which was built for young people in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan. Taekwondo is taught to over 70 refugees at the center, which has produced nine black belts so far. Seven taekwondo athletes are being assisted by Olympic Solidarity through its Refugee Athletes Support Program, including one athlete from Azraq. World Taekwondo has the second highest number of athletes on the program. Following panel discussions, Choue noted how the THF is reaching out to align with other IFs. “As of today, we have signed MOUs with five Olympic IFs - wrestling, judo, badminton, table tennis and hockey - and with two non-Olympic IFs: muaythai and sambo. We expect to sign with more IFs in 2020.” And beyond the flagship THF program in Jordan, the charity is looking further afield. “We are now looking to expand such programs to other countries like Djibouti, Rwanda, and Colombia because we know that we can offer the gift of sport to refugees and socially underprivileged children and young adults,” Choue said.

WT President Chungwon Choue, who is also chairman of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) and a board member of the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF), outlined on Dec. 12 the important role that safe sport can play in promoting social inclusion for refugees and displaced people around the world. Choue delivered the messages during his keynote speech at the Peace and Sport International Forum. He also took part in a panel discussion during the forum entitled, “Sport for the Global Compact of Refugees” alongside Director of External Relations for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Dominique Hyde, and IOC Member Seung-min Ryu. Choue spoke of the work of the ORF, which was launched in 2017 under the vision of IOC President Thomas Bach. “The aspiration of the ORF is for one million forcibly displaced young people to have access to safe sport by 2024,” Choue said. “This is an ambitious goal that the Olympic movement can reach together with those who are already active in this field so that sport can be a tool to improve social inclusion for the most marginalised in our world.” Related bodies are already aligning. “Together with UNHCR and the IOC, through the endorsement of the pledges, a coalition of more than 80 organizations has emerged,” Choue said. “I look forward to seeing this coalition grow further as working together in partnership we can multiply the impact of each of our individual efforts.” In the evening, Choue joined delegates at the Peace and Sport Gala Awards 2019.

World Taekwondo Pledges Commitment to Refugees at First-Ever Global Refugee Forum World Taekwondo united with 81 signatories across the global sports movement and pledged to support refugees through sport, during the first-ever Global Refugee Forum at the Palais Des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Dec. 17-18. World Taekwondo was one of only two International Federations (IFs) invited by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the inaugural forum along with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Both organisations were invited in recognition of their ongoing commitment to refugees through their respective humanitarian organisations. As a signatory of the UNHCR-IOC Sports Coalition pledge, World Taekwondo representatives joined key stakeholders from governments, NGOs and the private sector at the forum. IOC President Thomas Bach addressed delegates. Just one week prior, World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue had spoken at the Peace & Sport Forum in Monte Carlo. There, he had joined a panel of esteemed guests, such as the Director of External Relations for the UNHCR, Dominique Hyde, to discuss the topic of “Sport for the Global Compact of Refugees.”

245


WT TAEKWONDO CARES

Nepal Taekwondo Academy Named WT Regional Training Center ADF Donates US$90,000 to WT

The opening ceremony of World Taekwondo (WT) Cares projects for Nepal was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Aug. 3. The Nepal Taekwondo Cares projects for reformatory inmates and female victims of home violence are jointly supported by WT and the Asia Development Foundation (ADF). Under agreement, the Nepal Taekwondo Association carried out the Nepal Cares projects for 2019. The opening ceremony drew hundreds of people, including 88 students from two reformatory inmate centers – Prisoner Assistance Nepal and the Early Childhood Development Center – and 162 students from four women empowerment centers – Rakshya Nepal, Genesis Academy, Aasha Nepal and Maiti Nepal – all in downtown Kathmandu. The ceremony was held at the National Taekwondo Academy in Lalitpur, Nepal. The two WT Cares projects for Nepal started in early May 2019 for a oneyear period. Under agreement with WT in January 2019, the ADF financially supports the Nepal Cares projects. Among the dignitaries attending the ceremony were WT President Chungwon Choue; ADF Vice President Nam-chul Cho; Minister of Youth and Sports Jagat Bahdur Sunar Bishwakarma; Vice President of the National Sports Council Pitambar Timilsina; President of the Nepal Olympic Committee Jeevan Ram Shrestha; and Nepal Taekwondo Association President Prakash Shumsher Rana. Also on hand at the ceremony were Secretary General of WT Pan America Rick Shin; President of GCS International Portland, 246

USA Chapter, Selma Li; and Grand Master Jay-kyun Shin, better known as the “The Father of Nepal taekwondo.” During the ceremony, Choue delivered an honorary WT dan certificate to the Nepal sports minister and the National Sports Council vice president. He also gave WT appreciation plaques and appreciation certificates to local dignitaries in recognition of their dedication to the development of taekwondo in Nepal. The ceremony featured taekwondo demonstrations by the Nepal Taekwondo Association Demonstration Team and students of the 2019 Nepal Taekwondo Cares programs. “I wish to thank the Nepal Taekwondo Association and the Asia Development Foundation for supporting these Nepal Taekwondo Cares projects. We want to keep expanding these Cares programs in Nepal,” said Choue in the ceremony. Earlier in the day, there was a dedication ceremony for a statue at the UN World Heritage site of Swoyambhu in Kathmandu, Nepal. The statue was dedicated to the founder of GCS International, the late academic Young Seek Choue, who proposed the United Nations promulgate the UN International Day of Peace in 1981. The peace statue text reads: “During the massive earthquake in April 2015 in Nepal, World Taekwondo carried out an earthquake relief project in Nepal. That project acted as a pilot program for the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, which was established in April 2016. Such initiatives and movements closely follow the spirit and philosophy of Dr. Young Seek Choue’s GCS Movement.”

World Taekwondo officially recognized the National Taekwondo Academy in Kathmandu, Nepal, as its regional training center in a ceremony on Aug. 5. The center is the 12th WT-designated regional training center. The first was designated in 2008 in Beijing, China, with the latest one in August 2019 in Rome, Italy. WT regional training centers include locations in Azerbaijan, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, Iran, Korea and Uzbekistan. In the opening ceremony, WT President Chungwon Choue delivered a certificate of recognition as a WT regional training center to President of the Nepal Taekwondo Association Prakash Shumsher Rana. “I strongly want this Nepal WT regional training center to serve as a good educational training center for taekwondo people not only in Nepal, but also in the South Asia region,” he said. A number of VIPs attended the opening ceremony.

Social Responsibility

WT Cares Allies with Asia Development Foundation on Nepal Projects to Assist Vulnerable Populations

The Asia Development Foundation (ADF) delivered US$90,000 to World Taekwondo in a ceremony at the WT headquarters in Seoul, Korea on Jan. 25. The designated donation was delivered by Nam-chul Cho, executive director of the ADF, to Chungwon Choue, president of WT. The cash will be used to help empower the powerless in developing countries in Asia. One third of the donated funds will be used for WT Taekwondo Cares projects in Nepal such as free taekwondo education and training for women home violence victims, reformatory inmates, and students of schools built by the Um Hong Gil Human Foundation. The remaining funds will be used for the development of taekwondo in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries. “I hope our cooperative relations with WT will be further strengthened through a successful operation of the ADF-funded WT Taekwondo Cares projects,” said Cho of ADF. “In cooperation with Asian WT member nations, WT will do its utmost to use the ADF funds for orphans, reformatory inmates and victims of natural disasters in Asian countries in the most transparent manner,” said Choue.

247


WT Kicks off Taekwondo Cares Project in Cambodia with ADF Funds

World Taekwondo started its Taekwondo Cares project in October for about 70 Cambodian children in need of help, with the financial support of the Asia Development Foundation (ADF). Under the theme “Beginning a New Life through Taekwondo,” the US$28,400 WT-ADF Cares project kicked off on Oct. 21 for a one-year period for 20 female children who have been victimized

and sacrificed by trafficking and sexual slavery, and for 50 male homeless street children. On March 9, 2019, WT and the ADF delivered the Taekwondo Cares funds and university students scholarships to Cambodian Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron in a ceremony at the Education Ministry in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The minister also serves as president of the Cambodian Taekwondo Federation. The donation was handed over by ADF Executive Director Nam-chul Cho and Seok-jae Kang, senior consultant for WT Cares Program. “I sincerely thank WT President Chungwon Choue and the ADF for initiating these good programs, which will greatly help develop taekwondo in Cambodia and cement bilateral relations between Cambodia and Korea,” Naron said. The ceremony drew 13 scholarship recipients and such dignitaries as Korean Ambassador to Cambodia Nak-young Oh; Kim Sethany, vice education minister of Cambodia and co-president of the GCS Cambodia Chapter; and Robert Hwang, co-president of the GCS Cambodia Chapter.

Event Calendar

DATE

WT Cares Empowers Sri Lankan Street Children

Feb. 22-23 Feb. 24 Feb. 29

The World Taekwondo Cares project for Sri Lankan street children started in early July and is moving forward as planned. The “Road to Champions” Sri Lankan project, involving 60 boys in Colombo and 23 girls in Kegalle, kicked off in early July for a one-year period. The objective of the project is to help empower homeless young girls and boys.

The number of street children in Sri Lanka is estimated at about 15,000. Street children are defined as those who live on the streets and are adopted by children-care centers. Some have been affected by the Sri Lankan civil war, while others became vulnerable due to various forms of discrimination and exploitation. The Sri Lankan WT Cares project is financially supported by the Asia Development Foundation (ADF) and carried out by the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation. On Jan. 25, 2019, WT signed an MOU with the ADF, under which the ADF provided WT with US$90,000 in cash to support WT Cares projects in developing Asian countries, such as Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, among others. The Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation sent its project progress report to WT. “Overall the project has completed its first task of introducing basic taekwondo techniques and basic physical training and is looking forward to completing other steps on due dates,” the report reads. “The ultimate objective of the project is to help empower the street children to change their lives through taekwondo and to help upgrade the children socially, mentally and physically.”

March 10 March 11-12 April 10-11 April 12 April 17 April 18-19 May 21-24

2020

PLACE

Rabat, Morocco Gold Coast, Australia San Jose, Costa Rica Wuxi, China Milan, Italy Herning, Denmark

“July 24 - Aug. 9 (TKD: July 25-28)” “Aug. 25 - Sept.6

Oct. 21-22 Oct. 22-24

EVENT

EVENT GRADE

African Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

N/A

African Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

G-1

Oceania Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

N/A

Oceania Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

G-1

Pan Am Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

G-1

Pan Am Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

N/A

Asian Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

N/A

Asian Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

G-1

European Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

G-1

European Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

N/A

Herning 2020 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

G-8

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

G-20

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

G-20

Sofia 2020 World Taekwondo Junior Championships

G-6

Wuxi 2020 World Taekwondo World Cup Poomsae Championships

G-4

Wuxi 2020 World Taekwondo World Cup Team Championships

G-8

Cancun 2020 World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final

G-8

Cancun 2020 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final(Para)

G-8

Wuxi 2020 World Taekwondo Grand Slam Champions Series

N/A

Tokyo, Japan

(TKD: Sept. 3-5)” Oct. 14-18

*

Sofia, Bulgaria Wuxi, China

Nov. 28-29

Cancun, Mexico

Dec. 17-19

Wuxi, China

*Please note: This list is subject to change 248

249


Official Publication of World Taekwondo 107

2020 ISSN 1599-3779

Publisher / Chungwon Choue, President Editor-in Chief / Magazine Director / Heesoo Noh Editors / Andrew Salmon, Wooram Kim Contributing Photographers / Denis Sekretev, Amandine Lauriol Designed by / DN (www.d-n.kr | d-n@daum.net)

WT is delighted to bring you the official publication of the federation. Taekwondo magazine epitomizes our enthusiasm and progressive mindset in leading taekwondo and the WT. Taekwondo magazine is published annually. It is a summary of the previous year’s events, competition results and happenings throughout the world of taekwondo. It provides the events of the year, interviews with taekwondo stars and useful information on taekwondo.

Š 2020 World Taekwondo This publication and its contents may not be reproduced, even in part, in any form, without the written permission of the WT.

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