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2015

ISSUE NO.

102

OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE WORLD TAEKWONDO FEDERATION

Heroes of the Year 1st WTF Gala Awards

Grand Prix 2014:

A Classic Year

We’re

In!

Taekwondo Goes to Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

ONE

TAEKWONDO Bringing Us Together


Heroes of the Year Dae-hoon Lee

Heroes of the Year Jade Jones


President’s

Message

D

ear global taekwondo family members, The year 2014 was a classic one for the WTF and the year ahead of us is shaping up to be equally exciting. Moreover, 2015 will be, I hope, the year when taekwondo becomes “one.”

In 2014, we continued to work to grant our athletes more and better opportunities. Our World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series – giving our athletes new fora in which to compete at the highest level, and even win a little prize money – matured. Queretaro, Mexico, where the Grand Prix Final took place, was the location for another event designed to raise their public profile: the first-ever WTF Gala Awards Dinner. The same city was the setting for our World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships, which saw some tag-team battles that will go down in the annals of our sport as among the most exciting ever fought. The inaugural World Cadet Taekwondo Championships, which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, were also a huge success. And in December 2014, the IOC unanimously passed all 40 items that make up the “Olympic 2020 Agenda.” The WTF fully supports this roadmap for the future of the Olympic movement. Looking ahead to 2015, our top event will be the World Taekwondo Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia in May. As this will be the biggest event prior to the Rio 2016 Olympics, I anticipate spectacular action. Moreover, the 2015 Grand Prix Series will take place in Moscow, Russia in August; Samsun, Turkey in September; and in Manchester, the U.K. in October. The 2015 Grand Prix Final and the 2nd WTF Gala Awards Dinner will take place in Mexico City, Mexico in December. Now, let me address my main theme: ”Taekwondo is One.” The WTF endorses universality, and working on the principle that in our sport “No Athlete is Left Behind,” we have been firing on all cylinders to get para-taekwondo athletes the recognition they de-

serve. In January 2015, the WTF received fantastic news: Taekwondo will be in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games! As WTF president, I extend my special thanks to our Para-Taekwondo Committee, whose efforts delivered this tremendous gift. This achievement makes our sport “one.” Both able-bodied and disabled taekwondo athletes will be united under the banner of the world’s ultimate sporting competition. While Olympic entry will give all para-taekwondo athletes a huge boost, the time has come for a major paradigm shift in how the WTF oversees, administers and promotes taekwondo. After taking office in 2004, I had two chief aims. The first was to ensure fairness and transparency in referring, judging and administration. The second was to ensure that taekwondo was as exciting and dynamic as possible. I think it is fair to say that we are almost there on both counts. Thanks to colossal efforts over decades, taekwondo has become one of the world’s top participation sports. Now, it is time to build upon that foundation and make it one of the world’s top spectator sports – uniting both players and the fan base into “one.” This means making our events more media-friendly and upgrading marketing and promotion to lure the crowds. And this means giving our elite athletes the exposure they deserve by helping them become taekwondo stars. In this regard, we will further activate our tag-team matches. To be sure, this directional shift is going to require different mindsets to those the WTF has employed thus far; this new goal represents a towering challenge. To achieve it, the WTF leadership hopes to leverage the full support of the global taekwondo family. Finally, the WTF has been working to reconcile with the ITF, or International Taekwondo Federation. Exciting moves are now underway in this direction. If these efforts bear fruit, taekwondo will truly be “one.”

Yours in taekwondo,

Chungwon Choue President World Taekwondo Federation


50 EUROPE

Global Membership Expands to

1. Albania 2.Andorra 3.Armenia 4.Austria 5.Azerbaijan 6.Belarus 7.Belgium 8.Bosnia & Herzegovina 9.Bulgaria 10.Croatia 11.Cyprus 12.Czech Republic 13.Denmark 14.Estonia 15.Finland 16.France 17.Georgia 18.Germany 19.Great Britain 20.Greece 21.Hungary 22.Iceland 23.Ireland 24.Isle of Man 25.Israel 26.Italy 27.Kosovo 28.Latvia 29.Lithuania 30.Luxembourg 31.Macedonia 32.Malta 33.Moldova 34.Monaco 35.Montenegro 36.The Netherlands 37.Norway 38.Poland 39.Portugal 40.Romania 41.Russia 42.San Marino 43.Serbia 44.Slovak Republic 45.Slovenia 46.Spain 47.Sweden 48.Switzerland 49.Turkey 50.Ukraine

43 ASIA 1.Afghanistan 2.Bahrain 3.Bangladesh 4.Bhutan 5.Brunei 6.Cambodia 7.China 8.Chinese Taipei 9.Hong Kong 10.India 11.Indonesia 12.Iran 13.Iraq 14.Japan 15.Jordan 16.Kazakhstan 17.Korea 18.Kuwait 19.Kyrgyzstan 20.Laos 21.Lebanon 22.Macao 23.Malaysia 24.Mongolia 25.Myanmar 26.Nepal 27.Oman 28.Pakistan 29.Palestine 30.Philippines 31.Qatar 32.Saudi Arabia 33.Singapore 34.Sri Lanka 35.Syria 36.Tajikistan 37.Thailand 38.Timor-Leste 39.Turkmenistan 40.United Arab Emirates 41.Uzbekistan 42.Vietnam 43.Yemen

44 AMERICA 1.Antigua & Barbuda 2.Argentina 3.Aruba 4.Bahamas 5.Barbados 6.Belize 7.Bermuda 8.Bolivia 9.Brazil 10.British Virgin Islands 11.Canada 12.Cayman Islands 13.Chile 14.Colombia 15.Costa Rica 16.Dominican Republic 17.Cuba 18.Dominica 19.Ecuador 20.El Salvador 21.Grenada 22.Guadeloupe 23.Guatemala 24.Guyana 25.Haiti 26.Honduras 27.Jamaica 28.Martinique 29.Mexico 30.Netherlands Antilles 31.Nicaragua 32.Panama 33.Paraguay 34.Peru 35.Puerto Rico 36.St. Lucia 37.St. Kitts & Nevis 38.Surinam 39.St. Vincent & the Grenadines 40.Trinidad and Tobago 41.Uruguay 42.U.S.A. 43.Virgin Islands 44.Venezuela

50 AFRICA 1.Algeria 2.Angola 3.Benin 4.Botswana 5.Burkina Faso 6.Burundi 7.Cameroon 8.Cape Verde 9.Central African Republic 10.Comoros 11.Cote d’Ivoire 12.Congo 13.D.R. of the Congo 14.Egypt 15.Equatorial Guinea 16.Ethiopia 17.Gabon 18.Gambia 19.Ghana 20.Guinea 21.Kenya 22.Lesotho 23.Liberia 24.Libya 25.Madagascar 26.Malawi 27.Mali 28.Mauritania 29.Mauritius 30.Morocco 31.Mozambique 32.Niger 33.Nigeria 34.Ruanda 35.Sao Tome & Principe 36.Senegal 37.Seychelles 38.Sierra Leone 39.Somalia 40.South Africa 41.Sudan 42.South Sudan 43.Swaziland 44.Chad 45.Tanzania 46.Togo 47.Tunisia 48.Uganda 49.Zimbabwe 50.Zambia

19 OCEANIA 1.American Samoa 2.Australia 3.Cook Islands 4.Fiji 5.French Polynesia 6.Guam 7.Kiribati 8.Marshall Islands 9.Micronesia 10.Tuvalu 11.New Caledonia 12.New Zealand 13.Palau 14.Papua New Guinea 15.Samoa 16.Solomon Islands 17.Tonga 18.Tuvalu 19.Vanuatu


102

CONTENTS

2015

President’s Message

4

Global Membership

6

Part 1.

Part 2.

IN FOCUS

Around the WTF

Grand Prix 2014: A Classic Year

12

New Protocol Holds Promise of Global Taekwondo Cooperation

110

Asian Players Dominate Grand Prix Series 1 in Suzhou, China

14

Extraordinary WTF Council Meeting

114

Wide Medal Distribution Marks Astana Grand Prix

18

Working up the Refs: Selection and Preparation for Rio 2016

118

Iran and Spain Tie for Top Spot at Manchester Grand Prix

22

Higher, Faster, Stronger – and More Entertaining

120

Russia Dominates Queretaro Grand Prix Final

26

Honorary Dan: Croatian President Ivo Josipovic

142

Interviews

Elin Johansson Conquers Both Nerves and Opponents in Gold Medal Odyssey

30

Alexey Denisenko and Albert Gaun: Russia’s Top Guns

34

Haby Nirae: France’s Queen of the Scorpion Kick

38

Continental Unions

Maria Espinoza: Mexico’s Fist of Fury

42

PATU 150

Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah: Iranian ‘Tsunami’ on Path to Dominate Taekwondo?

46

OTU 152

Athletes

AFTU 144 ATU 146 ETU 148

1st WTF Gala Awards Dinner

50

WTF AWARDS

Keeping the Flag Flying: Dae-hoon Lee

56

Silver Town Proves Golden for Jade

60

Young-in Bang: Korea’s Gift to Mexico

64

Part 3.

Referee of the Year Thanks Taekwondo and God

68

Major Events

Aztec Warriors

72

World Taekwondo Peace Corps: Hopes and Dreams to Youth of the World

154

Everyone’s Invited! Para-taekwondo to Go to Tokyo in 2020

76

10th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships

158

Triumph in Moscow: 5th World Para-Taekwondo Championships

78

2nd Youth Olympic Games

164

‘Meditation in Action’

84

1st WTF World Cadet Taekwondo Championships

170

Interviews

Star Vika Inspires Ukraine’s Para-Taekwondo Athletes

88

2014 WTF World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships

176

‘Gasoline for Life:’ Danish Champ Retains Title in Trial-by-Fire Finale

92

9th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

182

Hasim Celik: 2013 Gold Medalist Edged Out in Moscow, Takes Home Bronze

96

2015 Events Calendar

188

Para-Taekwondo Athletes

Kazak Spin Kicks His Way to Victory in Moscow

100

Ghanaian Athlete Urges Disabled: ‘Don’t Sit in Your Room, Don’t Lock the Door’

104


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Grand Prix 2014: A Classic Year The Grand Prix events have, in its first full year of operation, laid claim to premium status among the WTF’s roster of global championships and will increasingly provide a media platform for the sport’s top characters to leap toward stardom

to the Member National Associations to which the athletes belong; an MNA, on behalf of its pertinent National Olympic Committee, may send a maximum of two athletes per weight division among those athletes invited by the WTF. One athlete from the host country is also invited, in addition to the athletes invited through ranking. If the host country does not use its allotted invitation place, the next highest ranked athlete whose MNA has not exceeded its maximum quota is invited. At a Grand Prix Final event, a total of eight athletes, both men and women, per weight division, are invited based on their WTF Olympic ranking. An MNA, on behalf of its pertinent NOC, may send a maximum of two athletes, per weight division, among those athletes invited. And this year’s Grand Prix will be more exciting than ever: The top six-ranked athletes in each weight category at the time of the 2015 Grand Prix Final automatically qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Named after the most exciting tournament series in motor sports and branded “Here Come the Champions,” the WTF’s Grand Prix series is proving itself to be a fullon showcase for competitive taekwondo and a must-attend event for athletes seeking Olympic glory. The ice was broken on this new taekwondo tourney in one of the world’s most famous sporting cities, Manchester, GB, in 2013. In 2014 the first, full-length annual Grand Prix events got underway. Series 1 took place in Suzhou, China; Series 2 in Astana, Kazakhstan; Series 3 in Manchester, GB; and the Final took place in Queretaro, Mexico. A full schedule is already in place for 2015. Series 1 will be in Moscow, Russia; Series 2 in Samsun, Turkey; Series 3 in Manchester, GB; and the Final in Mexico City, Mexico. The Grand Prix covers four male and four female weight categories. In series events, a total of 31 athletes , men and women, are invited based on their WTF Olympic rankings. Invitations are extended

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For athletes, the Grand Prix delivers important ranking points on the path to the Summer Games, while also granting priceless experience fighting likely Olympic opponents. For referees and officials, the series provides a test lab in which to analyze the performance of the latest equipment and rules. Meanwhile, the sporting public gets an increased opportunity to see world-class taekwondo athletes doing battle in more venues, on more continents and on more broadcasts, than ever before. Despite adding a grueling series of events for athletes and their coaches to plan their yearly training schedules around, the Grand Prix offers a host of benefits. For a sport that has not yet delivered the kind of financial rewards pro sports such as football, rugby, baseball, basketball, tennis or golf offer to their athletes, the gold, silver and bronze medalists at Grand Prix events do walk away with prize money. Perhaps more importantly, the Grand Prix – featuring classic rivalries, great competitive moments and the drama of victory and defeat – will hopefully provide the platform from which this generation of taekwondo champions will be catapulted to media stardom. Watch this space …

Grand Prix

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Suzhou, China July 4 - 6, 2014

Asian Players Dominate World Grand Prix Series 1 in Suzhou, China Korea and China seize the glory in the opening Grand Prix of the year

Korean and Chinese players proved their mastery at Series 1 of the 2014 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix, held in Suzhou, China with Korea coming on top of the tally, taking home two gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal, followed by host China with two golds and two bronzes, and Chinese Taipei with one gold and one bronze. Spain, Gabon and the Isle of Man won one gold each, while Russia clinched three silvers. Brazil, France and Mexico grabbed one silver each, while Argentina, Iran and the United Kingdom took two bronzes each. Australia, Hungary, Serbia, Azerbaijan and Japan took home one bronze medal each. Overall, 18 nations won medals.

14 Suzhou, China | July 4 - 6, 2014

Grand Prix

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The three-day event ran over July 4, 5 and 6 drawing 236 top athletes from 57 countries; officiating the bouts were 45 international referees. For the first time, cash prizes were given to the top four athletes in each weight category: $5,000 for the gold medalist, $3,000 for the silver medalists, and $1,000 for the two bronze medal winners. The new WTF Competition Rules, which went into force on July 1, 2014, were applied in Suzhou. When a contestant received 10 kyong-go or five gamjeom, or a combination of kyong-go and gamjeom that added up to five penalty points, the referee declared the contestant loser by penalties. Golden points and decisions of superiority were also applied. The Suzhou event featured eight Olympic weight categories, four male and four female: the men’s -58kg, the men’s -68kg, the men’s -80kg and the men’s +80kg; the women’s -49kg, the women’s -57kg, the women’s -67kg and the women’s +67kg. Three octagon-shaped courts were used, with semifinal and final matches taking place at center court. The Daedo protector and scoring system (PSS) and an instant video replay system were also used. China’s Jingyu Wu, a double Olympic gold medalist, defeated France’s Yasmina Aziez 4-0 in the women’s -49kg final match to earn her country the gold medal on the opening day of the three-day event. She also won prize money of $5,000. The bronzes in the division went to Korea’s So-hui Kim and Hungary’s Ivett Gonda.

On day two, in the women’s -67kg final match, Chinese Taipei’s Chia Chia Chuang, the silver medalist at the 2013 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Manchester, the United Kingdom, beat Russia’s Anastasiia Baryshnikova, the bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the bronze medalist at the 2013 Manchester Grand Prix Final, 7-4 to win the gold medal. Chuang advanced to the final match by brushing aside a stiff challenge from host China’s Hua Zhang to win a semifinal match 9-8. In the same weight category, the bronze went to Azerbaijan’s Farida Azizova and China’s Zhang. In the men’s -58kg final match, Korea’s Tae-hun Kim, the silver medalist at the 2013 Manchester Grand Prix Final, defeated Brazil’s Guilherme Alves 11-8 to earn his country the gold medal. Argentina’s Lucas Guzman and Australia’s Safwan Khalil shared the bronze medals. In the men’s -80kg final match, the Isle of Man’s Aaron Cook, the bronze medal winner at the 2013 Manchester Grand Prix Final, came from behind to edge Russia’s Albert Gaun, the silver medal winner at the 2013 Manchester Grand Prix Final, 4-3 for the gold medal. Cook had earlier required a fourth golden-point round against France’s Torann Maizeron to reach the final. The bronzes went to France’s Maizeron and Argentina’s Sebastian Crismanich, the gold medal winner at the 2012 London Olympic Games. On the third and final day, in the women’s -57kg final match, Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez, the gold medal winner at the 2013 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Manchester, the United Kingdom, defeated Korea’s So-hee Kim 2-0 to earn her country the gold medal. Calvo Gomez needed a fourth golden-point round to reach the final contest as she was tied at 4-4 at the end of the third round against Chinese Taipei’s Li Cheng Tseng. Korea’s Kim also required a fourth golden-point round after tying at 11-11 at the end of the third round against Japan’s Mayu Hamada to advance to the final match.

Another Chinese female athlete, Shuyin Zheng, beat Mexico’s Briseida Acosta 5-2 in the women’s +67kg final match for the second gold medal of the day. Great Britain’s Bianca Walkden and Serbia’s Milika Mandic, the gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, shared the bronze medals in the division.

In the men’s -68kg final contest, Korea’s Dae-hoon Lee, the silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, crushed Russia’s Vasilii Nikitin 19-6 to win the gold. Lee advanced to the final match as he managed to overcome a stern challenge from his semifinal opponent, Iran’s Behnam Asbaghikhanghah, to score the winning point in a fourth golden-point round. Iran’s Asbaghikhanghah and host China’s Jiannan Huang shared the bronze medals.

In the men’s +80kg final match, Gabon’s Anthony Obame, the silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, crushed Korea’s Dongmin Cha, the gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, 17-9 to win the gold medal. The bronzes went to Iran’s Sajiad Mardani and Great Britain’s Mahama Cho, the gold medalist at the inaugural 2013 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Manchester, the United Kingdom.

“Suzhou is renowned as one of the most beautiful cities in China and is also known as a sport city that has organized many international sports events,” said WTF President Chungwon Choue in his opening remarks at the championship. “In fact the WTF held an International Referee and Coach joint training camp here in 2012, which was the key reasons for the success of taekwondo at the London 2012 Olympic Games.”

16 Suzhou, China | July 4 - 6, 2014

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Astana, Kazakhstan Aug. 29 - 31, 2014

Wide Medal Distribution Marks Astana Grand Prix In a war in Kazakhstan, taekwondo’s top guns did epic battle for gold and glory

Chinese, Chinese Taipei, Croatian, French, Iranian, Spanish, Russian and U.S. athletes all took home golds at the 2014 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 2 held in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, over three days from Aug. 29. Held in the “Daulet” sports center, the event drew 206 top athletes and 181 officials from 50 countries. Forty five international referees officiated, and all semifinals and final bouts were broadcast live over Kaz Sport television.

18 Astana, Kazakhstan | Aug 29 - 31, 2014

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The G-4 Astana event featured eight Olympic weight categories, four male and four female: the men’s -58kg, the men’s -68kg, the men’s -80kg and the men’s +80kg; the women’s -49kg, the women’s -57kg, the women’s -67kg and the women’s +67kg. Three octagon-shaped courts were used. Athletes wore a KP&P protector and scoring system (PSS) and an instant video replay system was utilized. The latest WTF Competition Rules, which went into force as of July 1, 2014, were applied. Croatia’s Lucija Zaninovic brushed aside a stiff challenge from Korea’s Jae-ah Kim to win the women’s -49kg final match 1-0 for the gold medal. Chinese Taipei’s Lin WanTing and Ukraine’s Ganna Soroka had to settle for bronzes.

20 Astana, Kazakhstan | Aug 29 - 31, 2014

shall Silla and Uzbekistan’s Jasur Baykuziyev. China’s Yun Fei Guo won a close match against Sweden’s Elin Johansson, who ranked second in the WTF Olympic rankings, to win the women’s -67kg final match 4-3. Bronze medals were taken home by Russia’s Anastasia Baryshnikova and Chinese Taipei’s Yann-Yeu Chen. Chinese Taipei’s Chen Yang Wei, who ranked second in the WTF Olympic ranking, pounded Iran’s Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah 9-5 in the men’s -58kg final match to earn his country the gold medal. Argentina’s Lucas Guzman and Australia’s Safwan Khalil had to settle for bronzes.

The United States’ Jacqueline Rose Galloway Sanchez defeated China’s Donghua Li 5-0 in the women’s +67kg final match to earn her country the gold medal. The bronze medals went to Korea’s In-jong Lee and Spain’s Rosana Simon Alamo..

In the men’s -80kg final match, Iran’s Mehdi Khodabakhshi clinched the gold medal as his final-match opponent, the United States’ Steven Lopez, withdrew from the final match due to an arm injury sustained during his quarterfinal match against Aaron Cook of the Isle of Man. Great Britain’s Damon Sansum and France’s Torann Maizeroi shared bronze medals.

In the men’s +80kg final match, France’s M’bar N’Diaye needed a fourth golden-point round against Great Britain’s Mahama Cho to clinch the gold medal with a 3-2 score. Bronzes were won by Belarus’ Arman Mar-

Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez needed a fourth golden-point round to earn her country the gold in the women’s -57kg weight category. Calvo Gomez, No. 2 in the WTF Olympic rankings, was tied at 1-1 with her opponent

Jade Jones of Great Britain, the No. 1 on the WTF Olympic ranking, at the end of the third round. In the golden-point round, the Spaniard scored the first point for the gold medal. Korea’s So-hee Kim and Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic took bronzes. In the men’s -68kg weight division, Russia’s Alexey Denisenko, who ranked third in the WTF Olympic rankings, needed only two rounds to clinch the gold medal with a whopping 13-0 point-gap victory against the United States’ Mark Lopez, who stood at 22nd in the WTF Olympic rankings. Bronze medals went to Spain’s Jose Antonio Rosillo Atencia and Iran’s Behnam Asbaghikhanghah. The Grand Prix awarded cash prizes for the top four athletes in each weight division: $5,000 for the gold medalist, $3,000 for silver, and $1,000 each for the two bronze winners. The opening ceremony attracted WTF President Chungwon Choue; Arystanbek Muhamediuly, new minister of culture and sport of Kazakhstan; Joo-hyeon Baik, Korean ambassador to Kazakhstan, and Kim Vyacheslav, president of the Kazakhstan Taekwondo Federation, among others.

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Manchester, Great Britan Oct. 24 - 26, 2014

Iran and Spain Tie for Top Spot at Manchester Grand Prix Sporting city falls in love with taekwondo as elite kickers fight it out

Iran and Spain tied for top honors at the 2014 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 3, with two gold medals each; runners up Serbia, Russia, Germany and Korea each took home one. Held over the three days of Oct. 24-26 in the sport-loving city of Manchester, UK - which had successfully hosted the inaugural Grand Prix Final in December 2013 – the tourney attracted 236 athletes from 56 nations. Fifty international referees officiated at the event, which was held in the Manchester Central Convention Complex.

22 Manchester, United Kingdom | Oct 24 - 26, 2014

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Gold medal winners received prize money of $5,000, while the silver medalists earned $3,000 and bronze medalists took home $1,000 each. For the first time ever at a WTF-promoted event, protector and scoring system (PSS) head gear, which feature embedded electronic sensors, were used. In a world-first designed to create an optimal field of play environment, only two athletes, two corner judges and a center referee were permitted on the competition mats. One corner judge and two coaches were positioned just behind A-boards set up just outside the mats. In a sign of the popularity of both the sport and the Grand Prix format in the UK, all semifinal and final matches were broadcast live by the BBC. On day one, in the women’s +67kg final match, Milica Mandic of Serbia, the gold medalist in the women’s +67kg at the 2012 London Olympic Games, defeated the Netherlands’ Reshmie Oogink 7-4 to earn her country the gold medal. Korea’s In-jong Lee

24 Manchester, United Kingdom | Oct 24 - 26, 2014

and Turkey’s Asena Aydin had to settle for the bronze medals in the division.

Rui Braganca and Mexico’s Cesar Rodriguez settled for bronzes.

Russia’s Anastasiia Baryshnikova brushed aside a stiff challenge from Sweden’s Elin Johansson to win the women’s -67kg final match with a 5-2 victory for the gold medal, while bronzes went to Azerbaijan’s Farida Azizova and Turkey’s Nur Tatar.

In the men’s -80kg category, Iran’s Mahdi Khodabakhshi brushed aside a stiff challenge from the Isle of Man’s Aaron Cook to win the final match 13-11 for the gold medal. Bronze went to Iran’s Masoud Hajizavareh and Germany’s Tahir Guelec.

In the men’s +80kg final match, Germany’s Volker Wodzich beat Uzbekistan’s Jasur Baykuziyev 3-1 to grab gold. Bronzes went to Belarus’ Arman-Marshall Silla and Iran’s Sajjad Mardani.

On day three, in the women’s -57kg final match, Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez needed a fourth golden-point round to win the gold medal against hometown favorite Jade Jones of Great Britain. The two were tied at 4-4 after the regular three rounds. Korea’s Ah-reum Lee and Japan’s Mayu Hamada shared the bronze medals.

On day two, In the women’s -49kg final match, Spain’s Brigida Yague beat Hungary’s Ivett Gonda 4-2 for the gold medal. The bronzes went to Croatia’s Lucija Zaninovic and France’s Yasmina Aziez. Iran’s Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah needed a fourth golden-point round to win the gold medal in the men’s -58kg category. Tied at 3-3 at the end of the third round, the Iranian broke the tension and scored the winning point against China’s Shuai Zhao., Portugal’s

In the men’s -68kg final match, Korea’s Daehoon Lee came from behind to beat Belgium’s Jaouad Achab 15-14 with a successful kick to the head of Achab just one second before the final whistle of the third round, earning gold. The bronze medals went to China’s Jiannan Huang and the United States’ Mark Lopez.

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Queretaro, Mexico Dec. 3 - 4, 2014

Russia Dominates Queretaro Grand Prix Final Russian players fire on all cylinders to grab top spots in year’s grand finale

As the only nation to capture two gold medals, Russia dominated the 2014 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final which took place on December 3-4 in Queretaro, Mexico. Croatia, Iran, Russia and Sweden all struck gold on the first day of the event, while on the second day, it was Great Britain, Korea, the Netherlands and Russia who won the wins. After two days of combat, the final medal tally was led by Russia, with two golds and one bronze, followed

26 Queretaro, Russia | Dec 3 - 4, 2014

by Iran with one gold, one silver and two bronzes, while Korea came a close third with one gold, one silver and one bronze. For the athletes, it was a battle for both sporting glory and financial gain. With rankings being built into the competition, the event was a key landmark for athletes on the road to Rio 2016 and medalists also walked away with cash: gold winners were $6000 richer, silver medalists took home $3000 and bronze winners get $ 1000.

Day one’s first final was the female -49kg category, where Brigida Yague of Spain squared off against Lucija Zaninovic of Croatia. Both fighters displayed a conservative style, interspersed with sudden flurries of kick and counter-kick. Yague grabbed and maintained an early lead, utilizing her jackhammer lead-leg side kick to impressive effect, before Zaninovic clawed back points in the last seconds, for 7-7. In a golden point showdown, Zaninovic counter-kicked her way to the gold. “It’s wonderful!” said Zaninovic at the medal ceremony. “I had been losing the match until the end, then I found my courage – and because of that, I am very happy!” In the same category’s bronze-medal contest, Yasmina Aziez of France edged out Thailand’s Chanatip Sonkham, 7-5, for the bronze. The male -58kg final match saw Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah of Iran take on Korea’s Tae-moon Cha. In the first round, the Iranian’s arching high kick took the charging Cha by surprise. In the second round, he added to his score with sniper-like kick placemen. By the third round, Cha was looking wild while the Iranian kept his cool and extended his lead, winning gold 15-3 on a 12-point difference - with 49 seconds still on the clock

in what can only be described as a masterly display. “I am so happy,” said Ashour Zadeh Fallah after receiving his medal. Asked how he had maintained his composure under fire, he replied simply, “I trained with a very good coach.” For the bronze, Korea’s Tae-hun Kim, the world number one in the category, defeated Levent Tuncat of Germany 13-7 in a fast and furious match that featured an exhausting work rate from both players In the female -67 category, Haby Niare of France, the world number one, went toeto-toe with Sweden’s Elin Johansson. Niare had, throughout the day, shown remarkable fluidity in her kicks, able to score at seemingly impossible angles, while the Swede fought with a more textbook style. But Niare just could not seem to connect, and Johansson triumphed 4-3. “I had three very tough fights against three very tough opponents, so I could not be happier - this is one of the happiest days of my life,” said Johansson. “I was very tired at the end, but I kept control of the fight – I did my style.” Russia’s Anastasiia Baryshnikova overpowered Chinese Taipei’s Chia Chia Chuang in

the bronze-medal bout that was a showcase of clean kicking technique, winning the bronze with a score of 9-5. The male -80kg final match was a battle between Iran’s Mahdi Khodabakhshi and Russia’s Albert Gaun. Khodabakhshi displayed the customary coolness and precision of the Iranian elite, wielding an almost leisurely lead leg side kick, while Gaun launched a series of lightning front-foot turning kicks; he may possess one of the fastest right legs in sport. Yet the first two rounds were scoreless. With everything to play for, the third round got off to a scorching start then settled back down to physical chess – before Gaun scored with his turning kick in the final seconds, winning 1-0. Delighted, the Russian performed an impromptu dance on the field of play. “I am feeling good, it is not every day you win a Grand Prix!” Gaun said, adding with a dose of modesty, “There was no strategy in this, it was just a fight – and I got lucky.” In the bronze bout, Sebastian Crismanich of Argentina – who had eliminated the world number one, Aaron Cook of the Isle of Man, in his first fight - applied a full arsenal of kicks to defeat Mexico’s Uriel Adriano 6-5, despite the vocal crowd clashing thunder sticks in support of the home-team player.

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first round, evening up the score with a fast series of dual-footed attacks in round two. In a furious fighting finish on the perimeter of the mats in the third round, Cha took the match with a score of 6-5, granting the sport’s homeland its only gold of the tournament.

The first final of day two, in the female -57kg category, saw a surprise end to one of the sport’s great rivalries, as Great Britain’s Jade Jones broke a jinx that has haunted her throughout the series: In three previous Grand Prix, she had lost in the final match to Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez. This time, from the opening bell, Jones came out aggressively, putting heavy forward pressure on the Spaniard and scoring with two high kicks – confirmed only after two video replays - that shaved her opponent’s headgear. Final score was 7-3, with a long-awaited gold for Jones and silver for Calvo Gomez. Asked how she had overcome her long-time nemesis, Jones called it “an amazing experience,” adding that it had been a mental game. How about those two close-shave head kicks? “I thought I had scored, and the Mexican crowd really helped me each time I put in an appeal.“ In the bronze-medal match in the category, Japan’s Mayu Hamada maneuvered her opponent Hedaya Malak of Egypt to the edge of the ring with footwork and unleashed a barrage of kicks in the second round, racking up the points. She maintained her dominance to the end, winning 8-2. In probably the most exciting match of the finals, Russian Alexey Denisenko did furious battle with Spain’s Joel Gonzalez Bonilla for gold in the male -68 kg category. The match was a flurry of flying feet as both men unleashed high and spinning kicks, with the Russian taking to the sky in a series of airborne assaults. Denisenko’s aggressive tactics seized him an early lead, and he held off a late challenge from Gonzalez Bonilla to take the gold, 9-5. Asked what had been behind his spectacular

28 Queretaro, Russia | Dec 3 - 4, 2014

display, Denisenko said he had seen his opponent’s surprise when he first made head contact, “So I used all these techniques.” It had been a disappointing tourney for one of the sport’s star athletes, Servet Tazegul of Turkey: due to injury, he did not appear on the competition floor, leaving Iran’s Behnam Asbaghikhanghah to pick up the bronze in the men’s -68 kg. The female +67 category saw the roof almost lifted off the Queretaro Convention Center as the excitable Mexican crowd roared and clashed thunder sticks in support of local favorite Maria Espinoza, squaring off against the Netherlands’ Reshmie Oogink. But an unfazed Oogink had come to fight and racked up an early lead; the Mexican returned fire with her famed counterpunch. By the third round, the Dutch fighter was still ahead and although Espinoza let fly with a flurry of desperate spinning back kicks in the dying moments of the third round, Oogink kept her cool and kept ahead, taking the gold with a score of 4-2. “I feel great!” said Oogink. “What could be better than winning gold?” Asked if she had been intimidated by Espinoza’s thunderous support, she said, “I knew she would have the crowd behind her … I focused on my game.” For bronze in the female + 67kg category, Anne-Caroline Graffe of France seized victory from the jaws of defeat: Having been behind for almost the entire match, she came back with a flurry of techniques in the closing seconds to beat out Korea’s In-jong Lee, 5-4, for the bronze. In the male +80kg, Korea’s Dong-min Cha overcame an early lead that Jasur Baykuziyev of Uzbekistan had established in the

Cha said it had been a “hard fight,” admitting that, as the last Korean gold medal hope of the Grand Prix, the stress had been piled on: “Actually, I felt a lot of pressure the mood in the Korean team had not been high.” In the male +80kg, Iran’s Sajjad Mardani won bronze when Stephen Lambdin of the USA was unable to compete due to injuries sustained in earlier bouts. A vocal home crowd, matched by a noisy Russian contingent, enlivened the ambience, while the ring and electronic equipment had been modified to maximize the action of the GP. Matches took place on one elevated octagonal field of play, overhung with four electronic displays relaying the action live, as well as slow-motion replays of key match moments during the intervals. “The octagonal field of play is not just a gimmick, it means players cannot edge back because the corners have been cut off,” said Mike McKenzie, the WTF TV commentator. “This means more lateral footwork and more opportunities for contact.” The addition of electronic sensors in players’ head gear sped up matches by obviating appeals for head kicks – the second time this system has been used in a Grand Prix. The WTF president was delighted with the end of the first Grand Prix series. “We founded the Grand Prix in December 2013 in Manchester,” said WTF President Chungwon Choue. “Then in December this year we have had a Grand Prix Final with big surprises in many weight categories here in Mexico - a wonderful taekwondo-loving country.” Choue added that the Grand Prix would restart in August 2015 in Moscow, with the year’s final fixture likely to take place in Mexico City.

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Sweden

Elin Johansson

Conquers Both Nerves and Opponents in

Gold Medal Odyssey

W

hen she awoke on the morning of Dec. 3, 2014, Elin Johansson was so sick with nerves she had to lie back down. When she lay down in bed the same night, she was over the moon. The 24-year-old Swede was competing in the female -67kg category at the 2014 Queretaro World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final - a key gateway to qualification for Rio 2016. Even for an athlete with 13 years of expe-

30 Elin Johansson

rience in taekwondo, the day ahead – a walk through fire against three world-class opponents – was a daunting prospect. “I was so nervous in the morning - I am never that nervous! - that I had to lie down before the first fight,” she said. That fight was against long-time rival Nur Tatar of Turkey. “We are good friends and have been for a long time so it is hard to fight her in that way,” Johann-

son mused. “And she is a very, very strong fighter.” From the starter bell, things did not go according to plan. The Swede fell behind in the scoring. But her mind was still in the game. “In the first and second rounds I was under, so [in the third] I had to pressure her and keep my focus,” she said. “I did a random turning kick to the body then snapped it to the face and got her in the last round with video replay.”

‘Since the electronic hogu, it has been much more frontleg kicks and if you want to win, you need to do that, but I also like to double, to spin, to go high – I am a headhunter’

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That secured Johansson her first victory of the day and engaged all her gears. “After that, I felt so much better,” she said. “I usually need one fight to get in the mood.” Her next opponent was Chinese Taipei’s Chia Chia Chuang, who Johansson had beaten 9-2 in the Manchester Grand Prix. “I knew I could beat her but I knew she wanted to beat me,” she said. “I went into the fight with the attitude that this is all in!” Johansson’s second match would prove to be even more of a nail-biter than her first. The Swede took and held a lead in the first two rounds – then, in the dying seconds of the third, Chuang caught her in the head, evening the score. Johansson, momentarily discomfited, held her fire as the match resumed. “I was just thinking it was better to go to the golden point because my focus was somewhere else,” she said.

‘I have a lot of weapons’

After stepping down from the gold medal podium, she was visibly elated. “I had three very tough fights against three very tough opponents, so I could not be happier - this is one of the happiest days of my life,” she said in the post-medal ceremony interview. “I was very tired at the end, but I kept control of the fight – I did my style.” Her style might be dubbed “orthodox taekwondo” – but with a wide technical range.

In golden point mode, the bout lasted a minute, then Johansson saw an opening and “took the shot,” slamming Chua in the body, earning a point and a place in the finals. “A very, very tight fight,” was Johanasson’s judgment.

“I was nervous but in a good way, I was thrilled to be in top eight and then to be in the Grand Prix final,” Johansson said. Niare is one of the trickiest female fighters in the sport. She has an arsenal of unusual kicks and a bag full of surprises . “But this time, she did not surprise me,” Johansson said. “Maybe the main reason is I was not as tired as her, and I could control the fight.” Johansson looked stronger than the French

Johansson agrees. “When I am happy, I am happy; when I am not happy, I am very angry!” she said. “It is both a blessing and a curse to feel things so deeply.” Recently, she has learned to settle her soaring-plunging emotions. ”I have a secret – I have a mental coach!” she said. “He makes me see it from a whole other perspective, it has been a lot of self-belief; confidence has been my problem. “ Anderson reckons the mental coaching has slotted the final piece into Johansson’s puzzle. “She had been very up and down, but now she is much more balanced; even if she is behind on points she does not panic,” he said. “This has been the last step for her to take. She has been in five Grand Prix and in four finals, and that shows player stability.” Even so, Johansson’s newly acquired head game could not stop the rising elation she felt after conquering the nerves prior to her first match. “I fight with joy because I love it, I don’t earn much money,” she said. “I feel joyful and aggressive and on fire.”

The drama implicit in the golden point system is something that taekwondo fans may relish, but is a devilishly nervy business for fighters. One mistake and it is all over. It speaks volumes for Johansson’s mental preparation that she consciously decided to settle matters via sudden death.

The battle for gold would be against another long-time rival, France’s Haby Niare – the world-ranked number one.

32 Elin Johansson

girl from the get-go and proved tactically superior, controlling both distance and tempo. Ironically, this fight - Johansson’s last of the day - proved the easiest. She took the lead from the start, and took the match 4-2. “I was in the lead and kept her away,” Johansson said.

“I have a lot of weapons,” she said. “Since the electronic hogu, it has been much more front-leg kicks and if you want to win, you need to do that, but I also like to double, to spin, to go high – I am a headhunter.” In the analysis of Team Sweden Coach Niklas Anderson, Johansson had put almost all the the parts in place: technical, tactical and physical. “She is one of the most technical fighters; she does the ‘new style’ with the front-leg cut kicks, but she can also do all these turning kicks,” he said. “Tactically, she is very smart, with a good understanding of the sport, and physically she is very explosive, very strong. The only problem was the mental part.”

A full-time taekwondo athlete – she subsists on a Swedish Olympic scholarship and a salary from her club - based in the northern Swedish town of Skelleftea (“up in the woods”), Johanssonn is, like most of her rivals, firmly focused on Rio 2016 qualification. “I think that is when I will be on top of my career, I will be 26 at the time,” she said. “If I get there, I just want to do the best fights of my life.” And post-2016? “After the Olympics, we will see – maybe I will go for four more years, or have a family and have babies – I love babies!” she said. “If I can continue working in taekwondo, that would be a dream too; I love coaching my friends and my team.”

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Russia

Alexey Denisenko and Albert Gaun

At the 2014 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Queretaro, Mexico, only one national anthem sounded twice over the gold-medal podium: Russia’s. However, the two battles that delivered the golden haul could have not been more different. Albert Gaun’s -80kg combat against Iran’s Mahdi Khodabakhshi was a tense sniper duel that ended with a score of 1-0 while Alexey Denisenko’s -68kg battle against Spain’s Joel Gonzalez Bonilla was a blazing Kalashnikov firefight that rang up a score of 9-5.

34 Alexey Denisenko and Albert Gaun

Gaun, a 22-year-old joker – his childhood nickname was “Big Ears” - was smaller and lighter than his opponent in the final: Khodabakhshi had dropped down a weight category. However, Gaun - who hails from Barnaul in Siberia’s Altai Mountains - was not daunted by the Iranian’s greater size and strength. “I had only one thought going into the match,” Gaun said. “That was, ‘I am Siberian’ – and because of the cold weather, we Siberians are strong and patient.”

Patience would prove critical, because although this particular Siberian was faster than his opponent, the Iranian was a master tactician. Round one passed with no score; round two passed with no score; so did the bulk of round three. “The thing was to jam the opponent’s attack, to find the gap, to make the point,” Gaun recalled. “It was very difficult, like a chess game; the question was: ‘Who had the stronger nerves?’”

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The Siberian kept his cool and in the dying seconds before golden point, leveraged his speed and struck out – scoring and winning the gold. The crowd roared – then burst into laughter as a delighted Gaun performed an impromptu disco dance on the field of play. Denisenko’s match was the polar opposite of his compatriot’s – a foot-fest of taekwondo’s most spectacular high, spinning and jumping kicks. “I like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan!” said Denisenko, a good-looking, smiling native of Rostov-on-Don, in regard to his flamboyant combat moves. “It is my usual style, but firstly, I take some points to be sure there is a gap – then, when I am sure I can use flying techniques, I use them!” His mental game is on a par with his physical game. “I always go into a fight very confidently and when I am standing there, I always look at the opponent and think, ‘You had better be careful! I am going to shoot on that place you are standing!’” the 21-year-old said. So it proved against Gonzalez Bonilla. An early head kick granted Denisenko the confidence to unleash his full arsenal. “I jumped and got the head shot and the opponent seemed a little shocked,” he said, “Then, I knew I would take the match!” And take it he did – leaping, spinning, kicking and holding off a last-minute challenge as the desperate Spaniard, behind on the scoreboard, let rip with a flurry of kicks of his own. The fight was arguably the most exciting final bout in the two-day event. After their brace of victories in the Grand Prix, the Russian top guns sat out the World Cup Team Championships two days later – though they were both loud and (hefting a

36 Alexey Denisenko and Albert Gaun

Russian flag on the balconies) high visibility supporters of their team. Indeed, the Russian players had – after the Mexicans – the most vocal support in the arena, with a noisy contingent bawling, “Ru-si-a! Ru-si-a! Rusi-a! Ru-si-a!” “During the fights when they hold the Russian flag, I feel like running on the court and fighting,” said Gaun. “But after the Grand Prix final, my physical condition was not so good.” “I am not disappointed with this,” added Denisenko. “We have a very strong team, even if we are not included.” The relegation of two gold medalists to the benches during the team tourney is testament to the depth of Russia’s taekwondo talent pool - and that should be no surprise. Russian sports in general are well funded, with athletes receiving state salaries, topped up with bonuses for victories in regional and international competitions. Furthermore, Gaun and Denisenko praised the efforts made by the current head of Russian taekwondo, Anatoly Terekhov, to fund and promote the sport. Hence, the two athletes spend 2-3 weeks per month at training camp in Moscow; their remaining time is spent training in their home clubs. And there may be something in the national character that attracts Russians to the most competitive sports. “Somebody may have big muscles, but as for Russians, we have a big heart and big spirt,” Denisenko said. “If a Russian decides to go straight ahead, he will do it.”

Both lads are proud to represent their motherland globally, noting that on international flights, the team is often recognized as Russian athletes by foreign passengers. “I am very glad to be interviewed by a foreign interviewer and glad to be recognized in other countries,” Gaun said. “I know countries like Cote d’Ivoire because of Didier Drogba in football, and I hope Russia will be known for its athletes.” Gaun also has a novel idea to further popularize taekwondo: “They need to make more video games on Play Station or XBox to evolve the sport to get children’s interest,” Gaun - who admits he spends his money on “lots of useless things” - said. “If they had such things, I would play myself! “ As for the future, both young men are focused on the Word Championships in Russia in 2015 and on Olympic glory in 2016. Looking further ahead, after his competitive career is over, Denisenko, who comes from a Gypsy family, hopes to own horses and work in taekwondo administration. Gaun, on the other hand, is a “huge fan” of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “In the UFC now, some athletes respect this style and are raising the level of the kicks,” he said. If he satisfies his thirst for an Olympic medal in Rio, Gaun’s next bout could be in the Octagon. “I will get on a plane for the USA and enter the UFC,” he said, adding, “Though I might get killed in my first match!” Could he be joking…?

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France

Haby Niare

The Haby Niare – Elin Johansson face-off for gold in the female -67 kg category at the 2014 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Queretaro, Mexico was as much a clash of styles as a clash of fighters. France’s Niare, ranked number one in the slot in the world, is one of the least conventional fighters on the circuit, surprising the crowd and her opponents with kicks unleashed from impossible angles. Sweden’s Johansson, on the other hand, is a textbook tae-

38 Haby Niare

kwondo technician, firing from a textbook arsenal. On the night, it proved to be a victory for convention over flamboyance: In a masterly tactical display, Johansson controlled pace and the distance, taking the match (and the gold) 4-2. Still, Niare – nicknamed “The Abigator” (a play on her name and the carnivorous reptile) by her friends – accepted defeat gracefully, accepting her silver medal with a grin that rarely leaves her face.

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“I know I can win, I know I am better, but I was tired,” Niare, 21, said, conceding,”[Johansson} is a good fighter, and yes, she controlled the fight. “

is the kind of move seen in kung fu movie fantasies rather than in real-life sporting competition: A heel hook kick that she unleashes – almost impossibly - from up close.

Tall, leggy and lithe as a leopard, Niare works for French railroad company, SNCF. In person, she proves as charming and bubbly a personality as she is formidable a fighter.

“I love the ‘scorpion kick’ – in my team that is the name for this kick,” she said. “When we are in the clinch, when she thinks I can’t do anything - then I fire that! But I need to do it fast and if you want to do this kick, you need to be very flexible.”

A native of Mates la Jolie - a suburb of Paris where she is widely recognized for her taekwondo achievements - Niare boasts a 2013 World Championships and a 2010 European Championships as well as her GP Number One ranking. She holds a 1st dan black belt in taekwondo, an art she has been practicing for a decade. “Physically she has very special technique, with spin kicks and face kicks,” said French coach, Medhi Bensafi. “She is special and spectacular - not a conventional style.” Indeed, Niare’s most eye-catching technique

40 Haby Niare

She is certainly that, but insists that she is not naturally supple – “I am always stretching, I work hard!” Her hobby, outside taekwondo is hip hop dancing which, she says, helps with fighting rhythm. In the run-up to the Querataro competition, she trained heavily in endurance, in preparation for the city’s altitude. Technical preparation focused heavily on sparring with the team, as well as video analysis of the competition.

“Mental is most important for the fights, it’s all in the spirit,” she said. “The winner is not always the best, the winner is the one with the head game: I think it through round by round, I know what my work is and I don’t panic.” That self-analysis is backed up by her coach. “Haby is a player with big determination,” said Bensafi. “She has only one thing in her head: to be the best.” Niare is full of praise for the WTF Grand Prix Series. “It is very good for us athletes, as now we can fight more and we are more active,” she said “And we want to do the best.” So what are her future plans? ”In taekwondo, I want to be a future Olympic champion,” she said. “In life? I don’t know! I want a big home and a good job.” How about a good husband? “The Abigator” looks startled for a moment – then bursts into laughter.

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Mexico

Maria Espinoza

Mexico’s

Fist of Fury Any architects in the audience might have suffered a heart attack when Maria Espinoza stalked onto the mats for the gold medal match in the female +67kg category in the 2014 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Queretaro, Mexico. The crowd threated to blast the roof off the venue with roars of “Ma-ri-a! Ma-ri-a! Ma-ri-a!” Her opponent on the day was the Netherlands’ Reshmie Oogink. “I knew that Oogink was going to be a very complicated fight, I had never fought with her before,” Espinoza said. “But I wanted a lot to fight with her, I like to fight with the best!” As the match got underway, Oogink proved herself unintimidated by Espinoza’s thunderous sup-

42 Maria Espinoza

port and seized an early lead. Espinoza shot back with her patented overhand counterpunch, a technique that is rare in kick-heavy taekwondo, but which Espinoza has made her own, to score. But by the third round, the Dutch fighter was still ahead on the scoreboard. With the seconds ticking away, Espinoza launched an all-out attack, firing off a series of spinning back kicks in an effort to claw back points with the high-scoring, but risky technique. It was in vain. She was unable to connect and the match ended 4-2, with Oogink taking the gold and Espinoza the silver.

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“I got a little disconcerted by the two points in the first round and physically I did not feel too good to overcome that obstacle,” Espinoza said in her postmatch analysis. Even so, winning silver at this elite level of competition is hardly anything to be ashamed of. “I am very happy with the result,” she said - before conceding, “But I wanted gold.” The 27-year-old is a national heroine in Mexico, with an Olympic gold from Beijing 2008, an Olympic bronze from London 2012 and the gold medal at the 2007 World Championships under her 2nd dan black belt. Obviously competitive, Espinoza is a formidable presence. Striking looking – with wide, olive-skinned cheekbones and dark, fierce-looking eyes – she seems intensely focused, speaks emphatically and moves with grace and power. In terms of physique , she admits that she is not as tall and leggy as many of her competitors, and her physique provides a clue to her fighting style: Espinoza is a power hitter. So where does her famed counterpunch come from? “I used to box when I was very young,” she said. That is where the technique comes from – she continues to hone it on the dummy – but she says she does not know where she got the timing to land it. It may be something to do with where she comes from: She hails from the same state as Julio Cesar Chavez, Mexico’s most famous boxer (a sport Espinoza no longer practices, but likes to watch). Yet Espinoza is not a one-technique fighter. She also likes to use spinning back kicks, and a chain of left-right-left-right turning kicks to the body “bap-bap-bap-barrap!” in her own words. Asked to describe her personal style of taekwondo, she thinks for a moment before responding. “I am aggressive but I take care of points at the same time, I don’t lose control,” she said. “I am very dangerous!” Her year-round training includes circuit training and special physical training to strengthen legwork: She kicks against an elastic restraint. Espinoza’s training encompasses both traditional and games-style taekwondo. In the run-up to a competition, she downgrades the strength training and works more on speed and kicking “to feel light,

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relaxed and elastic,” while wearing the specific PSS to be used. But her powerful style of taekwondo is not best suited to the current format, which favors light, touch contact off the front leg, she fretted. “I have a little problem with the new [electronic scoring] systems compared to the old style; with any touch, the sensor makes points,” she said. “I am a strong kicker but normally the PSS system is not that strong; if you hit it too hard, it does not register.” However, she has seen how other competitors have adjusted to the changing sensitivities of the scoring system. “Other competitors have overcome that, they try to fix their problems to be acquainted with the system.” In terms of mental preparation, she takes on each specific competitor in her head. “Before the competition, I imagine I am writing things that will happen,” she said, “I concentrate a lot, with a specific objective.” Although she said she does not like appearing on TV and in newspapers, she is clearly a public figure. During the photo shoot for this article, it proved difficult to get her out of the venue - due to the dozens of Mexicans squealing “Maria!” and begging for signatures and photographs. She is sometimes recognized on the streets and in restaurants, and this high profile has won her corporate attention: Her sponsors include Coca Cola and athletic wear maker Under Armor. And Espinoza is not just a warrior in taekwondo competition, she is the real deal: She is a private soldier with two-and-a-half years; service in the Mexican Army, which provides full-time sport training for elite competitors, “as long as I am winning!” As for the future, she hopes to possibly run a business or operate a string of taekwondo academies. The latter ambition seems feasible, given the sport’s popularity in Mexico. Is there any particular reason why taekwondo is so popular in the country? “The Mexican character is like saying,’ No Stop,’” she said. “In boxing, there are many champions in Mexico and all the people want to be champions, all want to fight better. Taekwondo is the same.”

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Iran

Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah

Iranian ‘Tsunami:’ On Path to

Dominate

Taekwondo?

If you thought the word “mastery” implied age, wisdom and qualification as well as skill and talent – well, you should have been in Queretaro, Mexico for the World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final. In the final bout of the men’s -58kg category, in an event that is considered the pinnacle of elite taekwondo, the gold medal was won by an Iranian who can boast skill and talent in spades – but is a mere lad who is not only still at high school, but as a 4th poom, does not even hold a black belt.

‘It is all about the mental fight, not the body fight’

Having cruised through to the semifinals in the men’s -58 kg category, Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah undertook what can only be described as a demolition of Korea’s Taemun Cha in the gold-medal showdown.

46 Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah

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In the first round, the Iranian’s arcing high kick took the charging Cha by surprise. In the second round, he added to his score with sniper-like kick placemen. By the third round, Cha, one of Korea’s brightest taekwondo stars, was looking wild as the Iranian maintained his cool and extended his lead. The one-sided battle was only halted after Ashour Zadeh Fallah had racked up a colossal 12-point difference – with a remarkable 49 seconds still remaining on the clock. Watching the Iranian do his thing, one is reminded of a saying attributed to ancient Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu: His attacks are like water: They flow through and around his opponent’s defense from unusual angles that are so craftily chosen that they often do not register on his peripheral vision. Appropriately, Ashour Zadeh Fallah’s nickname, coined by an awed TV reporter, is “Tsunami,” for on the field of play, the youthful Iranian has the unstoppable force of a tidal wave. Despite his soaring ambition and remarkable talent, off the mats “The Tsunami” is menacing neither to look at nor to listen to: The laid-back teenager is tall and gangly, softly spoken and polite. But regardless of his laid-back persona, he is very self-assured - very. For example, he had no doubt about the end result against Cha. “This year I won most of my fights with a 12-point difference,” he said. “So I was sure I would go in and win.” In his post-fight analysis, he clinically dissected Cha’s weaknesses: “He was not very fast, and his body was open.” He admits to having analyzed Cha’s style in indepth video sessions with his coach in the run-up to Querataro, and there can be no doubt of his physical skills, but even these assets do not explain his ice-cold in-fight composure. So what is the secret to his head game: Mind training? Prayer? Meditation? None of the above, apparently. “For me, what is very important is the mental fight, not the body fight, I am always cool,” he said. “I have all the stress and difficult situations in the mind, but even when I go out in my free time, I focus – there is no special technique.”

48 Farzan Ashour Zadeh Fallah

A native of Mazandaran, Iran, the real secret to his success is not just personal talent, but his home nation. Perhaps more than any other nation, Iran, with its league of 127 teams fielding 16,000 athletes, all served by a network of dedicated training facilities, is a champion factory churning out taekwondo athletes. That makes “The Tsunami” the latest precision-engineered product to roll off the assembly line. “In Iran the training is very hard, all the teams are training hard,” he said. As regards personal training, he takes two rest days a week. His conditioning focuses on bodybuilding for strength (his tall, thin frame looks deceptively fragile); plyometrics for explosiveness; and of course running - long distance for overall endurance and sprint work in the run-up to competitions. He got his start of taekwondo at the age of six and made it onto the junior national team at the age of 12. The year 2014 - Ashour Zadeh Fallah’s 18th year - has seen him reach maturity as both a man and an athlete. In addition to his Queretaro firstplace finish, he struck gold at both the Manchester Grand Prix and the Incheon Asian Games. Asked about his future plans in the sport, he is not modest: He hopes to win more medals than any other taekwondo fighter has done, he said. Is this the youthful dream of a teenager or a realistic hope? “If he continues working, he can realize his ambition,” said Seyyed Mohammad Pouladgar, the president of the Iranian Taekwondo Federation and a man who knows a thing or two about incubating brilliant fighters. “The short goal is the Olympic gold - after that, it is just the beginning!” After graduating from high school, the 18-year old plans to study physical education at university. In his down time, Ashour Zadeh Fallah likes to hang out with friends and travel with his family. Beyond taekwondo, his only other hobby is swimming - an appropriate activity for a fighter who, for years to come, looks likely to surge across the taekwondo world with the force of the tidal wave for which he is nicknamed. Grand Prix

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1st WTF

Gala Awards Dinner In Queretaro, Mexico, taekwondo’s top players, officials and national association of 2014 were recognized by their peers

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December 5, 2014

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t its inaugural WTF Gala Awards Dinner held on Dec. 5, 2014 in a convention center perched on a mountain overlooking the scenic, central Mexican city of Queretaro, the World Taekwondo Federation named Dae-hoon Lee of Korea and Jade Jones of Great Britain its athletes of the year.

Dae-hoon Lee, London Olympic silver medalist in -58kg and two-time world champion in 2011 and 2013, as well as two-time winner of five Grand Prix in -68kg in Suzhou, China and Manchester, the U.K., was named “the 2014 WTF Male Player of the Year.” He won 30 votes out of 105 cast. “Thank you very much, I am very happy to stand here,” Lee said in his acceptance speech. “I will keep doing my best. Muchas gracias!” In Focus

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The “2014 WTF Coach of the Year” honors went to Korean Young-in Bang, who has served as the head coach of the Mexican national team since 1998, with 16 out of 59 votes cast. “I am from Korea, but I will speak Spanish because I live in Mexico,” he said at the podium. “I want to thank my friends and students and everybody in this place. Long live Mexico!”

The athletes and coaches were voted for by dinner attendees, while the 2014 WTF National Association and the 2014 WTF Referee of the Year were chosen by a five-member Nomination Committee. Those eligible to vote for the awardees were all participating 64 players, 30 international referees and 27 national federations, which attended the Grand Prix Final, as well as registered journalists covering the event, one vote per country.

The “2014 WTF Referee of the Year” award went to Neydis Tavarez of Puerto Rico, whose refereeing duties had included officiating the taekwondo events at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The “2014 WTF National Association of the Year” award went to the event’s host, Mexico.

Great Britain’s Jade Jones, 2012 Olympic gold medalist in -57kg, threetime runner-up and one-time Grand Prix winner in Queretaro, Mexico, was named “the 2014 WTF Female Player of the Year” with 29 out of 105 votes cast. “I am really honored to accept this award,” she said after receiving it. “Special thanks to G.B. Taekwondo and my amazing coach, Paul Green!” Jones had previously been awarded a prestigious MBE (“Member of the British Empire”) by the British government in 2013.

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The red carpet dinner took place in a candlelit convention hall ballroom, illuminated with a giant WTF logo. The sport’s elite athletes were attired, not in their usual workout gear, but in formal garb. The diners were greeted by hosts in traditional Mexican costumes and entertained by Mariachi bands and the WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team. The WTF Gala Awards Dinner was designed to grant long-overdue recognition to athletes. The event was the brain child of Juan Manuel Lopez Delgado, president of the Mexican Taekwondo Federation.

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MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR : Dae-hoon Lee (Korea)

Keeping the Flag Flying: Dae-hoon Lee As taekwondo becomes ever-more competitive globally, the sport’s home team is winning fewer medals than it used to. But don’t count Korea out just yet: Dae-hoon Lee is at the top of his game One of the most notable trends in WTF taekwondo in recent years has been the rise and rise of new taekwondo superpowers. Iran, for example, boasts a fearsome array of champions and potential champions in the sport, while Russia, leveraging its long-standing tradition of athletic excellence, is storming forward in the rankings. These challenges mean that the customary dominance of Korea - from whence taekwondo originates - is under extreme pressure. But don’t tell that to Dae-hoon Lee.

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MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR : Dae-hoon Lee

WTF AWARDS

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Garnering 30 votes out of 105 cast among his peers, the 22-year-old Seoul native was voted the WTF Male Player of the Year at the inaugural WTF Gala Awards Dinner in Queretaro, Mexico on December 5, 2014. Why so? “Because of my poor English, I don’t have many foreign friends and I did not even think I could be the recipient,” he said. “But my active, dynamic way of fighting rather than a dull one - may have helped me win the honor.”

category at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in 2010; gold medalist in the same category at the 2011 World Taekwondo Championships in Gyeongju, Korea. He took silver in the -58kg category at the 2012 London Olympic Games; and won gold in the -63kg category at the 2013 World Taekwondo Championships in Puebla, Mexico. Although success eluded him in Queretaro, he is a two-time winner of five Grand Prix events - taking home gold in the -68 kg category in Suzhou, China and in Manchester, the U.K.

try’s monopoly of medals is not desirable,” he mused. “I think we need more analysis of foreign players to produce good results.” Indeed, Lee’s favorite player in the sport right now is not a team mate, but Spain’s Gomez Gonzalez. Even so, being born Korean does confer some advantages. Lee kicked off this taekwondo career at a gym in Sinchon, Seoul at the tender age of four under the watchful eye of his coach - who also happens to be his father! Both he and his brother now wear fourth-dan black belts. But taekwondo is ever-changing. Asked how the protector and scoring system (PSS) is affecting the sport, he was more diplomatic than some players, who complain that the gear is encouraging the use of less-spectacular front-foot kicks to the body, rather than turning or spinning kicks to the head.

Fighting in one of the most competitive weight categories in the sport, Lee has a crowd-pleasing style: “One of my specialties is kicking to the head!” he said.

Currently, Lee trains a sweat-generating seven hours per day except weekends, and benefits from highly professional preparation.

Given current rules that favor the front cut kick or push kick to the PSS, high kicks are high-risk. As a result, Lee is modifying his game: “Nowadays I practice to kick to the body as my opponents know my tactics,” he said. “I practice hard according to changed WTF Competition Rules.”

But preparation and training is no longer a guarantee of success, given that the competition from non-Korean fighters is stiffer than ever. “It is a fact that Korea wins less medals at taekwondo events nowadays than before,” he said. “But we manage to do well.”

Lee’s competitive record is a glittering roster of wins and near misses.

And while that may not please die-hard Korean taekwondo fans, it is good for the sport overall, Lee reckons. “A certain coun-

He was the gold-medal winner in the -63kg

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“The use of PSS has made taekwondo competitions fairer and more transparent: both players are fighting under the same conditions,” Lee opined. “The adoption of PSS has inevitably resulted in the change in the fighting style of players. Players have become clever and more thoughtful.” Right now, Lee is focusing on a short-term goal. “I want to be selected as a Korean national team member for the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in May in Chelyabinsk, Russia,” he said. “I have to fully prepare for the championships.” And he is hoping that his style will continue to win him fans among his peers. “I also want to be selected as the WTF Male Player of the Year 2015,” he said.

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FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR : Jade Jones (Great Britain)

Silver Town Proves Golden for Jade Britain’s favorite taekwondo athlete broke a losing streak to pull off a spectacular win in the latest clash in one of the sport’s great rivalries

The scenic Mexican town of Queretaro was once famous for its silver mines, but for Great Britain’s Jade Jones, the town delivered more valuable metal - and yet another plaudit to add to her growing list of honors. Fighting in the female -57kg category, the 21-year-old broke a jinx that has haunted her all year, for in three previous Grand Prix, she had lost to Spain’s taller Eva Calvo Gomez. This time, from the opening bell, Jones came out aggressively, putting heavy forward pressure on the Spaniard. Living up to her nickname “The Headhunter,” she scored with two high kicks.

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FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR : Jade Jones

‘Me? I’m just back training my guts out!’ Or did she? Neither hit registered on the headgear, but when her coach demanded video replays, both were confirmed. By the third round, it was 7-0 to Jones, but

And Mexico had more in store for the smiling blond from Bodelwyddan, Wales.  The following night, at the inaugural WTF Gala Awards Dinner, Jones was named “2014 WTF Female Player of the Year” with 29 out

took her to their local club to learn self-defense. She would try many other sports, but it was taekwondo she would stick with, gravitating to the elite GB Academy, in the sports-loving city of Manchester, where she trains under Green’s watchful eye. The club lies on the outskirts of Manchester, but Jones still resides close to her roots, in the Welsh town of Flint. Here 2012 Olympic glory catapulted her to stardom – but also to a change in attitude. When her motivation sank, her confidence dwindled and she found herself in a slump. "The Olympics were always my be-all and end-all, so when I won it was the best feeling in the world. But I didn't realize how much it would affect me mentally," she told The Guardian newspaper. Twelve months later, she had "fallen out of love with the sport." She said, "It wasn't fun anymore. I was just getting stressed all the time, my confidence was going down and I wasn't enjoying training. I wasn't myself.”

Gomez came out fighting, scoring three points. But Jones played it tactically and remained comfortably ahead for a final score of 7-3 – granting her long-awaited Grand Prix gold and valuable ranking points ahead of Rio 2016. Asked how she had overcome her longtime nemesis, Jones called it “an amazing experience,” adding that it had been down to mental game, after many “great battles” with Gomez. And how about those two close-shave head kicks? “I thought I had scored, and the Mexican crowd really helped me each time I put in an appeal.“

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of 105 votes cast. “I am really honored to accept this award,” she said after receiving it. “Special thanks to GB Taekwondo and my amazing coach, Paul Green!” Despite her disappointments in the earlier Grand Prix, Jones is no stranger to golds: She won Great Britain’s first-ever taekwondo Olympic gold on home turf in 2012. Nor is she any stranger to honors: In 2012 she was named “Wales Sports Personality of the Year” and in 2013, she had been awarded a prestigious MBE (“Member of the British Empire”) by the British government.

Fortunately she overcame that slump and recovered her passion – which she puts down to inspiration from Green. Now, she is back to business. “I wouldn’t say my life has changed much, I’m still the same. Because I’m young, I’m still doing the exact same things; training for the next competition and the next Olympics,” she said in a subsequent interview with The Guardian. “A lot of athletes who were successful at the London Olympics have retired and gone into TV or whatever. Me? I’m just back training my guts out.” It seems like a good plan to defend her Olympic title in Rio.

The tiny Jade started taekwondo at the tender age of eight when her grandfather

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WTF AWARDS

COACH OF THE YEAR : Young-in Bang (Korea)

Young-in Bang: Korea’s Gift to Mexico Latin America gets a taste of Northeast Asia from a man for whom taekwondo is a family affair

When Young-in Bang, Korea-born coach of the Mexican national team, was presented with the “WTF Coach of the Year” award at the 1st WTF Gala Awards Dinner in Queretaro, Mexico, he made a snap linguistic decision. “I am from Korea, but I will speak Spanish because I live in Mexico,” he said. “I want to thank my friends and students and everybody in this place. Long live Mexico!” Bang, Mexican coach since 1998, won 16 out of 59 votes cast on the night. “I am really honored to be the first recipient of the WTF Coach of the Year,” he said. “I am really grateful and I think it is the reward for my taekwondo life in Mexico, but much of this honor goes to the Mexican Taekwondo Federation and our Mexican athletes.” And Bang has brought a lot more to the nation that has adopted him.

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WTF AWARDS

COACH OF THE YEAR : Young-in Bang

The 42-year-old has overseen a team that won a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, one silver and one bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics, one gold at the 2005 World Taekwondo Championships in Madrid, two golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, one bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, and one gold, three silvers and two bronzes at the 2013 World Taekwondo Championships in Puebla, Mexico. Bang started taekwondo at the age of six and today holds a 7th dan black belt. He first arrived in Mexico in February 1998 as the coach of the Mexican national junior team, then in 1999, became the coach of

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the Mexican national senior team. And taekwondo in Mexico is a family affair. His younger brother, Young-sun Bang, 40, a 6th dan black belt, came to Mexico in 2005 and became the coach of the Mexican national junior team in 2006. After working in that capacity until 2013, he joined the Mexican national senior team in 2014. Bang’s elder brother, a businessman, is also a 4th dan black belt. In 2015 he is scheduled to take up a new position as the Mexican Technical Committee chair. Bang expects Team Mexico to grab at least one gold in Rio in 2016, but says,

“I am targeting two medals - regardless of color!” Given that the Mexican taekwondo athletes – benefitting from the sport’s high national profile following the Sydney Olympics – compete in at least eight major championships around the world annually to hone their competitive edge, this goal looks achievable. And though he is working for Mexico for now, Bang’s heart remains at home in Korea. “If the chance is given, I want to work as a taekwondo professor at a Korean university or serve as the head coach of the Korean national team,” he said.

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WTF AWARDS

REFEREE OF THE YEAR : Neydis Tavarez (Puerto Rico)

Referee of the Year Thanks Taekwondo and God Puerto Rican native Neydis Tavarez has faith in officiating taekwondo

“Great happiness and special gratitude to God!” was the reaction of Neydis Tavarez from Puerto Rico on being selected “Referee of the Year” at the inaugural WTF Gala Awards Dinner in Queretaro, Mexico. It was an appropriate reaction – given that referees may, indeed, need to display Godlike calmness, equilibrium and judgment when they step between two highly emotional, laser-focused contestants battling it on the field of play. And Tavarez has certainly had plenty of experience on that field.

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WTF AWARDS

REFEREE OF THE YEAR : Neydis Tavarez

She first qualified as a WTF international referee in 2006, and has gone on to become one of the sport’s most experienced referees, officiating at the Olympics Games in 2012, the 2nd Youth Olympic Games in 2014, the World Championships in 2011 and 2013, Grand Prix Finals in 2013 and 2014, the World Junior Championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014, the World Cup Championships in 2012 and 2014, the World Para-Taekwondo Championships in 2012 and 2013 and the World Combat Games in 2010 and 2013. However, when asked what was the most exciting event she has ever officiated, she declined to name one. “Every game has its own special charm, sometimes the best moment is not given in a great competitive international event, only just happens when good competitive athletes make you feel that the vision of the WTF game is happening - dynamic, spontaneous, fun and with great execution of taekwondo techniques,” she said. “For me, this is the most exciting moment!”

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Tavarez started taekwondo in 1978 at the urging of her father, who wanted his five children to learn martial arts. “My motivation was, first self-defense, then good physical condition and discipline,” she said. Since those early days, taekwondo has become engrained in her life. “Taekwondo is part of my family, it is the martial art and sport that I love,” she said. “It is the lifestyle that allows me to seek improvement and become a better person each day.” Asked why she thought she had been chosen as taekwondo’s top referee, Tavarez put it down to commitment and to “… the responsibility to keep the continuing education of the rules in pursuit to understand it clearly in order to apply it with more common sense, justice and truth in the game.” And clearly, officiating is not work for her; she added, “Simply, always give the best of me and enjoy all aspects of the game.” She also thanked PATU Referee Committee Chairman, Master Myung-chan Kim, for granting her the opportunity to get started

as an international referee, and WTF Referee Committee Chairman Chakir Chelbat for being an example of respect, transparency and education. 2015 looks likely to be a busy year for the Puerto Rican native. Not resting on her laurels, she says she plans to continue her education as an international referee, while also developing several ideas in the competition and industrial engineering areas. She also hopes to help her son and daughter return to international competition and with her brother, Luis Dennis, upgrade the level of the family-run NDT-Sport-Taekwondo School. She notes that the WTF are “… a great team, focused on the vision of our sport, making it most dynamic, fun, transparent and fair,” in order to make it “the best sport of the world.” Even so, her final thoughts for 2015 are on higher matters than taekwondo. “I have some work this year to enjoy and give it the best, but I always put God and the Virgin Maria ahead.”

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WTF AWARDS

MNA OF THE YEAR : Mexico

Aztec Warriors The world’s largest Spanish-speaking nation was formed from a mélange of lively cultural influences, many of them martial. That could explain why Mexico is a rising taekwondo powerhouse …

It stretches from the emerald Caribbean to the shining Pacific; its soil is shot through with rich veins of silver and oil; and its spicy local cuisine and powerful local spirit are beloved across the world. Mexico, with its population of 113 million, is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world and as a rising middle power, forms a bridge linking Latin America to North America. The nation’s lively culture encompasses both Spanish and native American influences. Given that some of the most famed Mexicans are revolutionaries like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, there may be something in the fiery local character that favors the fighter. The country is noted for its athletic/comedic “luche libre” wrestling format, has bred such famed boxers as Julio Cesar Chavez, and swashbuckling Mexicans even stalk the pages of fiction: the bandit/ hero Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo is believed to be the model for “Zorro.”

taekwondo powerhouses, boasting some 1.5 million taekwondo practitioners. It is also rising as well as one of the top locations for premier WTF events. In 2013 and 2014, Mexico successfully bid for and hosted some of the federation’s most prestigious events: the 2013 World Championships in Puebla, the 2014 World Poomsae Championships in Aguascalientes, and the 2014 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final, the World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships and the first-ever WTF Gala Awards Dinner (an initiative that was not just held in Mexico, but was suggested by Mexico) in Queretaro. And later this year, the 2015 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final will be held in Mexico City.

Given the Mexican heritage of adopting varied cultural influences and loving a good fight, it should come as no surprise to learn that Mexico is one of the world’s

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MNA OF THE YEAR : Mexico

The success of these events can be put down to two elements. One is “total” government support. “They pay for all the plane tickets, all the competitions, all the travel, all the hotels and also they give around $3 million per year to host international events,” said Juan Manuel Lopez Delgado, president of the Mexican Taekwondo Federation. “And we have another $3 million for all the Mexican selections.” A second element is the excitement taekwondo generates among the general public. “The last world championships - the 21st in Puebla - many people considered the best ever,” said Korean-Mexican taekwondo grandmaster Dai-won Moon. “The venue was good, but no different from many places like Beijing and Gyeongju that are top grade; the thing was the public.” Over the seven-day event, with both morning and afternoon tickets on sale, the venue was sold out. “The public are taekwondo-educated people so they know what is a point and what is not,” Moon continued. “They get excited - especially when Mexico is participating.” One reason for this excitement is Mexicans’ love of a good fight. “Mexicans are gung ho, they have spirit, they have aggressiveness,” said Moon. “Mexicans love to win - we are very good in boxing and taekwondo because the people are very strong in competition,” added Carlos Hernandez, CEO of Mundo Taekwondo. “We are Aztec warriors - this is the spirit!” Another reason is taekwondo’s Olympic presence. “After Sydney in 2000 the profile of taekwondo started rising when Victor Estrada won one medal – bronze,” said Delgado. “Since then we have started winning in every Olympics!” Part of the reason for the Mexican team’s

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Olympic success is its exposure to top-level competitors from around the world. “We have a lot of concentration of teams – Korea, Spain, Germany, Azerbaijan, Italy – they come and train with us,” Delgado explained. “We share knowledge.”

Moon and his flamboyant Korean martial art that they invited him to stay. He relocated to Mexico full-time in 1969 and has been there, teaching and training, ever since. Today, he is known nationwide as “the father of Mexican taekwondo.”

Currently, the most recognizable face in Mexican taekwondo is that of Olympic medalist Maria del Rosario Espinoza. “She is well known all over the country, she wins in every championship she enters,” said Delgado. “She is sponsored by TelMex – the biggest company in Mexican telecommunications.”

Moon, at 71, still trains and teaches. He operates from his personal hacienda – complete with ornamental lake, swimming pool, dormitories and barbeque pits – deep in the Mexican countryside. From here, like a Latin American Shaolin Temple, a generation of Mexican taekwondo players have been birthed. Moon uses the ranch for rigorous, three-day black belt exams.

Espinoza herself offers an explanation for the sport’s popularity. “Mexico has that style of being a strong person, like a warrior,” she said. “The Mexican character is saying, ‘No Stop.’” Taekwondo is no newcomer to Mexico. The sport’s history in the nation dates back to 1968. In that year Moon, then resident in the United States, was invited by Dr. Manuel Mondragon y Kalb on a south-of-the-border visit. “He was the founder of Japanese karate in Mexico and he wanted to see ‘Korean karate,’” Moon recalled (at that time, the term “taekwondo” was not widely recognized). Moon and a fellow Korean instructor were invited to give a 10-day seminar to karate black belts. “Before, they were practicing karate and that was a strict method, then I started teaching taekwondo, and that was a move toward a more free and passionate style of martial art,” recalled Moon. “That may suit the Mexican character.” The Mexicans were so impressed with

WTF officials and reporters from across the world got a taste of the spirit and camaraderie of Mexican taekwondo when they were invited to Moon’s hacienda just prior to the 2014 Grand Prix Final in Queretaro. The cuisine was Mexican tacos – with Moon’s wife throwing in some home-made kimchi for extra flavor –washed down with a generous flow of tequila from the grandmaster’s personal cellar. The evening finished with guests bursting into song in both Korean and Spanish. Moon’s taekwondo family even has a dedicated song called “Anthem of Moo Duk Kwon,” which includes such lines as, “We will always be practicing taekwondo. The good will never be defeated.” “We always sing this in formal places,” laughs Moon. “Or wherever!” “Wherever” includes sporting stadia – for the Mexican penchant for a roaring good song was very much in evidence in Queretaro, with the catchy traditional number “Cielito Lindo” (“Beautiful Sky”) being belted out by the audience as Team Mexico went into battle. For Mexican taekwondo athletes, the sky is the limit - and with Mexico aggressively bidding to host further WTF fixtures, that song is likely to become very familiar among global taekwondo fans.

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proven at five world championships that their dedication, technical skill and level of athleticism are at least the equal of their able-bodied counterparts. “We have always been 100 percent committed to making our sport a sport for all and inclusion in the Paralympic Games will help us engage with more people than ever,” Choue continued.

Everyone in the WTF knew it. For taekwondo to be a truly inclusive “sport for all” - a sport in which no athlete is left behind, it had to offer all players, be they able-bodied or disabled, the opportunity to scale the world’s ultimate sporting pinnacle.

Everyone’s Invited! Para-Taekwondo to Go to Tokyo in 2020 In was a New Year’s wish come true for the WTF, when, in January, the IPC voted to put taekwondo on the program for the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020

That desirable outcome was reached on January 31, 2015, when the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced that taekwondo would be on the official program of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. It was the New Year’s present taekwondo had long been awaiting. With the IPC decision, taekwondo is now “complete” as a top-tier competitive sport, represented at both the Olympics and the Paralympics. The outcome is due to a lot of hard work by the WTF - work acknowledged by the IPC. “I’d like to pay testament to the sports of badminton and taekwondo for the work they have undertaken in securing their place at the Paralympic Games for the first time,” said IPC President Sir Philip Craven in his announcement of the Tokyo program, following a meeting of the IPC Governing Board in Abu Dhabi. The head of the WTF was in raptures. “We are delighted and humbled that the IPC Governing Board has selected para-taekwondo for inclusion on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games sports programme for the very first time,” said WTF President Dr. Chungwon Choue. “Today is not just the realisation of a dream for us, but the realization of a dream for para-taekwondo athletes around the world.” Above all, taekwondo’s Paralympic inclusion is testament to the WTF’s formidable roster of para-taekwondo athletes, who have

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Indeed, the sport’s Paralympic entry should sharply raise para-taekwondo’s profile among national sport federations. This profile is expected to grant para-taekwondo athletes long-awaited access to their respective nation’s top training facilities, as well as wider public exposure and increased opportunities for government incentives and commercial sponsorships. For inclusion in the 2020 Paralympics, sports were assessed by the IPC for worldwide participation in terms of countries and continents, where the sport is regularly practiced, quadrennial competition programs, athlete classifications, anti-doping programs, rules and regulations, and initiatives undertaken to make the prospective sports more attractive. Craven called the process of bidding for Paralympic inclusion, which began in November 2013, “the most extensive and rigorous review process ever, of all the sports.” In a letter addressed to the “WTF Family,” WTF Paralympic Committee Chairman Koos Engelbrecht wrote: “As you are aware, much had to be done in a very short period, but all the efforts and work was not in vain. For the progress made, all the input of the different stakeholders must be acknowledged.” Among those stakeholders, Engelbrecht praised his team who have been working overtime for the last 12 months to meet the IPC requirements. Engelbrecht reserved his highest praise, however, for Choue, who had made it his aim to promote “… the growth and inclusion of para-taekwondo during his term of office – he has been a constant support to the initiatives of the Para-Taekwondo Committee.” Still, now that the celebrations are over, Choue warned that the hard work begins all over again. “We have achieved a lot, but we know this is only the beginning for para-taekwondo,” said Choue. “We look forward to working closely with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee to provide the ultimate sporting spectacle for Paralympic fans in 2020.”

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Triumph in Moscow The 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships, held in Moscow, Russia on June 21-22, 2014, was the biggest and the best ever. Here is how it all went down

5TH WTF WORLD PARA-TAEKWONDO CHAMPIONSHIPS Moscow, Russia June 21-22, 2014

F

eet flashed, music pounded and the crowd’s tribal roars reverberated off the domed roof of Moscow’s Dinamo Sport Palace as the 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships kicked off on June 21, 2014. It was the first time the WTF para-championships had been held independently - ie, rather than as an add-on to the able-bodied championships - and was also the first to run over two days, rather than one. The two-day event drew a total of 111 athletes, 107 for kyorugi (sparring) and four for poomsae (solo pattern routines),

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from a record 37 countries across all five IPC regions - making it the biggest para-taekwondo championships ever held. The participating countries were: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Ghana, Great Britain, Guatemala, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, the Netherlands, Niger, the Philippines, Poland, Korea, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States, and Uzbekistan. Forty countries had registered for the

Moscow championships, but three - Comoros, Nigeria, and Romania - failed to attend at the last moment for visa and other travel problems. It was the second time the WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships had been held in Russia, following the 2nd tourney, which took place in 2010 in St. Petersburg. Asked why he was hosting it for the second time, Russian Taekwondo Union President Anatoly Terekhov said, “This could be the 5th, 6th, or 7th – we always take big championships like this. This is the most important event this year;

we want taekwondo to be a Paralympic sport, it is a very important decision and we want to be part of the process.” Classifications and weigh-in of the kyorugi athletes were held on June 19-20 at Moscow’s Kassado Plaza Hotel. The classifications were overseen by medical and technical staff. Some were WTF officials; others were para-sport specialists hired specifically for the championship. After an opening ceremony that was

by turns zany, exciting, contemplative and moving, the event proper got underway.

High Technology, Optimal Rules The championship leveraged high technology which both raised the excitement

of the bout and also ensured fairness and transparency. In a striking visual advance, the matches were projected live on giant LCD screens behind the mats. A Daedo protector and scoring system (PSS) was used. Impacts of strikes on the protective gear were electronically recorded and immediately registered on the electronic scoreboards. This system obviated human

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Triumph in Moscow error in scoring points, while allowing the crowd to follow every match, point by point. An instant video replay system was also used in disputed calls. The duration of each contest was three rounds of one minute and 30 seconds, with a one-minute break between rounds. Modified competition rules were applied. As most of the athletes had upper limb disabilities, preventing the blocking of high-line attacks, kicks to the head were banned. Punches were allowed as

a tactical move, but no points were given. The core techniques of taekwondo are its kicks. A valid kick to the body earned an athlete one point and a valid turning kick to the body two points. This point differential encouraged the athletes to use the sport’s more spectacular and crowd-pleasing techniques, such as spinning back kicks and jump spinning turning kicks.

As Good as Able-Bodied? Given the athletes’ predominantly upper-limb disabilities, their defensive skills – ie their ability to block, parry or cover – were, obviously not on a par with that of their able- bodied counterparts. However, as they have had to compensate throughout their lives for their upper-limb disabilities with increased lower-limb dexterity – for example, members of the Moroccan demonstration team wrote messages and even poured tea with their feet – their offensive techniques were as good, if not better, than able-bodied athletes. Several coaches and officials on the side lines noted (with some surprise) that the action and athleticism of the players were at least the equal to that of able-bodied athletes.

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Their reaction reflected a comment made by RTU President Terekhov prior to the championships’ start: “We held a press conference and showed images from last year’s championship in Lausanne,” he said. “It was so attractive and dynamic that the press did not notice that it was para-taekwondo, they thought it was just regular taekwondo.” In addition, there was the goodwill factor. “There is such a joy in this arena,” said Danish team head and president of the Danish Taekwondo Federation, Ejnar Skovgaard Mikkelson. “You don’t feel that so much in ordinary taekwondo.” This varied combination of factors – high technology; wider-than-ever

participation; athletes with scorching skills; and a good-natured, but thunderously vocal audience - made for exciting two days. Fighting was fast and furious. Athletes circled and stalked each other, closed the range, unleashed volleys of kicks, clinched, separated and continued. The thwack of kicks hitting protective gear, and the shrieks of the fighters, was audible even from the top of the stands. The crowd – particularly large contingents from Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia – were loving it, roaring advice at their favored fighters: “Change legs! Change legs!” “Front kick,Vitali! Use the front kick!”

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Triumph in Moscow

5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships NOC Ranking Tally by Points (Male)

‘We had a previous base in para-taekwondo, but this championship was the biggest ever and we have taken it to the next level’ - WTF Coordinator for Para-taekwondo, Olof Hansson

5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships NOC Ranking Tally by Points (Female)

A Home-town Win

By the time the smoke cleared on the evening of the 22nd, Russia had taken the overall men’s title, while Turkey had won the overall women’s title. In the men’s category, Russia grabbed three golds, three silvers and four bronzes, for a total of 71 points for the top honors, followed by Iran with two golds and one silver for 31 points. Turkey came next with two golds and one bronze for 31 points. Azerbaijan finished fourth with one gold and one bronze for 28 points, followed by Mongolia with one gold and one silver for 21 points. In the women’s division, Turkey seized two golds and two bronzes for a total of 23 points for the overall title. Russia was close behind with one gold,

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three silvers and one bronze for a total of 23 points. Ukraine stood in third place with one gold and one bronze for a total of 12 points, followed by Denmark with one gold for 11 points and Great Britain with one gold for 10 points. The Good Fighting Spirit Award of the championships went to Morocco, while Colombia took the Active Participation Award. Ukraine’s Viktorria Marchuk – one of para-taekwondo’s stars - who won the gold in the female K43 -49kg category to become a three-time champion, was selected as the female MVP of the Moscow championships. Mongolia’s Bolor-Erdene Ganbat, the winner at the male K44 -61kg division, was chosen as

the male MVP. Australia’s Maher Mgableh, Morocco’s Tarik Benradi and Jordan’s Ms. Haya Qubain-Kara were selected as best referees of the championships. Russia’s Efremov Alexander was chosen as the male team’s best coach and Turkey’s Zehra Orkan was named as the female team’s best coach. The event’s organizer was delighted (if exhausted). “I have been getting grey hair and a grey beard – by the time it was all over, I was back to my fighting weight!” said Olof Hansson, the WTF’s Coordinator for Para-Taekwondo. “We had a previous base in para-taekwondo, but this championship was the biggest ever and we have taken it to the next level.”

NOC

G

S

B

TOTAL

1

RUS

3

3

4

71

2

IRI

2

1

0

31

3

TUR

2

0

1

31

4

AZE

1

0

1

28

5

MGL

1

1

0

21

6

ESP

1

0

0

13

7

KAZ

1

0

0

12

8

FIN

0

1

0

5

9

CRO

0

1

0

9

10

UKR

1

0

0

8

11

POL

0

1

1

8

12

AUT

1

0

0

7

13

MAR

0

0

1

4

14

AUS

0

1

0

6

15

GUA

0

1

0

6

16

ITA

0

0

1

4

17

USA

0

0

1

4

18

UZB

0

0

1

4

19

COL

0

0

1

3

NOC

G

S

B

TOTAL

20

FRA

0

0

1

3

1

TUR

2

0

2

23

21

ISR

0

0

1

3

2

RUS

1

3

1

23

22

KOR

0

0

0

2

3

UKR

1

0

1

12

23

MEX

0

0

0

2

24

NED

0

0

0

2

4

DEN

1

0

0

11

25

LES

0

0

0

1

5

GBR

1

0

0

10

26

ARG

0

0

0

1

6

LES

1

0

0

8

27

CRC

0

0

0

1

7

COL

1

0

0

7

28

BRA

0

0

0

1

29

GHA

0

0

0

1

8

AZE

1

1

0

14

30

JPN

0

0

0

1

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‘Meditation in Action’ Poomsae - solo form routines - was a new addition at the 2014 championships. The discipline offers unique benefits to the intellectually disabled

‘Poomsae is meditation in action. It is really good, both mentally and physically’ - Sergey Proskurnev, chairman, Russian Poomsae Referee Committee

Anyone doubting the transformative potential of para-taekwondo should speak to Irma Cordoba. “When you work with love, perseverance and interest, taekwondo accomplishes great things,” said the Colombian mother, speaking in a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of her daughter, Jhormary. “Through taekwondo, Jhormary has changed in unimaginable ways - including aspects of her life that medical therapies had not been able to overcome.” Cordoba was speaking on the sidelines of the 5th WTF World Para-Tae-

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kwondo Championships, just after her daughter, Jhormary Rojas, 32, had delivered an impressive performance in poomsae competition – a subcategory of taekwondo added to the championships for the first time in Moscow for those with intellectual disabilities. If kyorugi (sparring) is the “martial” side of taekwondo, poomsae is the “art.” Athletes are required to perform a series of pre-choreographed, solo, set movements – “poomsae” - against an imagined opponent. The moves range from the simple – a chest-level punch – to the challenging – a head-level side kick. Poomse is graded to various levels of difficulty and in competition, athletes are graded on components such as movement

correctness, precision and grace. While poomsae lacks the impact of kyorugi, it promotes concentration, balance, agility, flexibility and leg strength. “Poomsae is meditation in action,” said Sergey Proskurnev, the chairman of Russia’s Poomsae Referee Committee. “It is really good, both mentally and physically.” Poomsae is a demanding discipline even for those with normal memories and motor coordination. Imagine, then, how much more challenging it is for the intellectually disabled – the category Jhormary was competing in. Add in impassive judges, a huge hall, fierce fighting underway on the adjacent matt and a noisy crowd and the stress factors ramp up.

This did not stop four intellectually impaired athletes from competing in the event. On the 21st, they marched to the competition mat, bowed in, performed their poomsae, bowed out and marched off. Their results appeared on electronic scoreboards. Colombia’s Rojas was the only competitor to display two different poomsae; she also chose the most advanced patterns seen in the competition, Taebaek and Shipjin. Her performances were authoritative, displaying long, low stances and a clear expression of power that shook her dobok (uniform). Watching Rojas’ performance, one would be hard pressed to tell that she was in any way disabled. She ended

with an overall score of 7.265. Austrian Dominick Radosztics, 20, performed Taeguk 1-jang, taekwondo’s most basic poomsae. The nine-year taekwondo veteran gave a performance that showcased careful, deliberate concentration and finished with a sharp “kihap” (spirit shout). He repeated the form a second time, ending with a combined score of 5.400. Russia’s Sergey Kiselov, 23, performed Kumgang Palchang. The poomsae is characterized by stance shifts, straight palm strikes and balance-challenging one-legged stances. Even though

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‘Meditation in Action’

‘Through taekwondo, Jhormary has changed in unimaginable ways- including aspects of her life that medical therapies had not been able to overcome’

- Irma Cordoba, competitor’s mother

Kiselov clearly had difficulties remembering the movements – his coach gave verbal instructions from the sidelines – his athleticism and balance were impressive. He scored 4.735. The fourth para-athlete registered for the poomsae event, Russian Nina Torgoshova, 19, was unable to compete at the event. Although the main draw at the championships was clearly kyorugi, the poomsae athletes pronounced themselves well satisfied with their event. “I was very happy to be able to do the best I could,” said Rojas. “I chose those poomsae as they are the ones that give

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me the most satisfaction - they are my passion!” “I was not nervous at all, I enjoyed it,” said Radosztics, who was accompanied by his mother and his sister. “Also, it was my first time to fly, so I enjoyed the travel.” “It was alright, we made it, we did what we could,” said Kiselov - who has less than a year’s taekwondo training under his belt. “I forgot a little bit, but … I’ll continue!” Officials and coaches were equally pleased. “I am very satisfied with the athletes, it was their first time, it is a good beginning,” said Proskurnev. “Their friends have seen them doing this, and they want to do it, too.” Roja’s coach, Jesus Zuluega, said he has seen a lot of progress in his charge’s taekwondo, but that should not be surprising. “She has a lot of strength,

discipline and perseverance and passion,” he said. “She perspires taekwondo!” Still, the most emotional person in the arena was not a competitor, a coach or an official - but one very proud mother. Embracing her daughter after the event, Cordoba said, “I am at a loss for words when I think of all the great things that taekwondo has done for my daughter. As a mother, I would like to share it with those in a similar situation.”

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Para-Taekwondo > Athlete Stories

Star Vika Inspires Ukraine’s Para-Taekwondo Athletes I

t will be intimidating for any athlete to step onto the competition mats of the 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships, but it might help if you have the sport’s star athlete on your team. And if that star has beaten the steepest odds in both life and sport – well, it might just be a bit inspirational, too. Vika Marchuk, who was born with severely disabled arms, was abandoned as a baby and raised in an orphanage, suffering a hard life before being discovered by taekwondo coach Yuliya Volkova. Marchuk, then 22-years-old and previously a track and field athlete, was raised to championship level by Volkova’s patient coaching. In 2012 it all came together. Marchuk – better known simply as Vika - grabbed

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gold at the 3rd WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships in Santa Cruz, Aruba, that year. In 2013, she repeated the feat at the 4th championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. Marchuk’s story – a combination of tough life, fairy godmother coach and bravura performance in elite global competition - captured the hearts of the global taekwondo community. So, what was the legacy of those championship wins? “I think my success in the world championships showed other people that regardless of whether you are healthy or have a disability, you can have success if you work hard,” said Marchuk, who also received an apartment and a small stipend from a grateful government.

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Para-Taekwondo > Athlete Stories

‘I think my success in the world championships showed other people that regardless of whether you are healthy or have a disability, you can have success if you work hard’ - Vika Marchuk, world champion

For Moscow 2014, Ukraine is fielding a five-strong team, and some of the athletes admit that the smiling teammate they train alongside is an inspiration. “I am in training together with Vika – the same dojang, the same coach,” said 15-year-old Oksana Hrankina. “I see how big and how strong her spirit is; it is a big motivation for me to get stronger to get the same success.” It is not just athletes who learned of Vika’s story and took action. “In our country, people with disabilities are not like others, they are second-class citizens,” said Team Ukraine’s male team coach Serhiy Brushnitskyy. “I was thinking of working with such people after Vika’s success. People with disabilities are strong enough; I am proud to work with people with disabilities in Ukraine.” And however serious social prejudices against the disabled may be in Ukraine, being a world-class para-athlete has granted many a sense of self-worth and dignity. “I know that some people in our country consider the disabled second-class citizens, but I don’t think I am,” said Mykola Nabyt, 31. “I try to do my best to reach my goal, to be successful, to lead a full life.” He added, “I find that sometimes I do better than able-bodied people!” The Ukrainians will be competing against a background of political turmoil roiling their country, but are not letting that adjust their focus on the competition.

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“I think politics and sport must be kept differentiated,” said Lyudmyla Lebyedyeva, 32 - but stated how proud she is to represent her nation. ”I hope to see the Ukrainian flag rise high as often as possible!” To return to Marchuk: How has she been preparing to defend her title? In the run-up to Moscow, she has added a new kick to her arsenal, trained power and stamina with field and track work, and been strengthening her key weapons – her legs – with weight training. “I am nervous, but that is usual for every athlete,” she said. “I am going to win; I am confident enough.” Underpinning her confidence is not just skill and experience, but the influence of the mentor who introduced her to taekwondo – Yuliya Volkova. “I am so happy that Yuliya found me a couple of years ago,” Marchuk said. “It is very hard to work with disabled people, so I am very appreciative that she believes in me.” Other members of the team share Marchuk’s affection for their coach. “Yuliya is like a second mom to me,” said Lebyedyeva. “She supports me all the time, in every way and at every moment.” Appropriately, Volkova’s position as the founding mother of para-taekwondo in Ukraine is being set in concrete. Two days before the kick-off of the Moscow championship, a Ukrainian para-taekwondo association was established with Volkova as secretary general.

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Para-Taekwondo > Athlete Stories

‘Gasoline for Life:’ Danish Champ Retains Title in Trail-by-Fire Finale

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isa Gjessing lost an arm to cancer in 2012, but now reckons she is happier than she was prior to the amputation. How so? Well … being a world para-taekwondo champion has something to do with it. The 35-year old Dane boasts the svelte physique of an elite-level athlete and the sculpted Nordic facial features that modelling agencies would kill for. She is successful both professionally – she is a state prosecutor – and personally – she is married with two children, aged five and eight. But cancer is no respecter of looks or position: In 2009, Gjessing was diagnosed with the disease. “It was a big shock,” she said. Gjessing

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underwent various treatments and in 2012, her lower left arm was amputated. The trauma forced some introspection, and she decided to return to an old love. Before her illness, Gjessing had practiced taekwondo, competing at the 2001 and 2003 World Championships. But in 2004, she had given up the practice, partly due to familial and educational commitments, and partly due to failing the 2004 Olympic qualifications. Fast forward to 2012, and while she was in rehab, she saw something that inspired. “I saw the Paralympics in London a few months after my amputation, and I thought, ‘How can I feel sorry for myself, when they can do all this?’” she recalled.

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‘ ’

She contacted her former coach Bjarne Johansen. After an eight-year layoff, Gjessing got back into training. “Johansen had an elite taekwondo center and his guys were on a high level,” she said. “But I found I could still kick.” Just a month and a half later, she entered the (able-bodied) National Championships and won in her class. “That felt really good,” she recalled, and started intensive training for the World Para-Taekwondo Championships in 2013. In Lausanne, she took home the gold. That win, plus her previous experience in able-bodied taekwondo, gives her a unique vantage point from which to judge the two formats. Para-taekwondo has removed the crowd-pleasing head kicks which tend to be lateral; this makes it more linear, with more back-and-forth movement, she said. She was also surprised that (at least in the women’s categories) there was as wide a pool of opponents as in able-bodied. She will stick with the para-format. “From now on, I’m only doing para-taekwondo, I am not going back to able-bodied,” she said. “With work and kids, I don’t want to fight with head contact.” This year in Moscow, having trained six days a week for months in the run-up she was in tigerish condition to defend her title. Her first two matches were a cruise. Against relatively inexperienced opposition, she won 16-0 and 12-0; both fights were – prudently - stopped by the judges. The situation presented Gjessing with an issue. “I felt I should have been more gentle with them, I want them to be up and coming as I want more competitors!” she said. “It is a dilemma.” There would be no such dilemma in the final. Facing Azerbaijan’s Mammedova Aynur, she underwent a trial-by-fire, the toughest fight of her para-taekwondo career. Plunged into near-mortal combat, Gjessing was unable to crack Aynur’s water-tight guard. “She was really good, she covered up and did her thing,” said

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Gjessing, who, for the first two rounds, was behind on points. What she did not realize, as her opponent came out for the final round, was how exhausted she was. “I was really tired, and my concentration slipped,” said Aynur. “The last 30 seconds decided the match.” Needing a high-risk, high-scoring technique, Gjessing unleashed a spinning back kick. It landed and put her ahead. When the smoke cleared, she was holding gold in the women’s -58kg, K44 class, with a score of 5-3. Aynur’s dismay was evident when she stood on the silver rostrum: Tears streamed down her face. Yet the two are not to-the-death rivals. “We only fight on the mats; off them, we are good friends,” said Aynur. But she warns, “In October, at the European Championships, I’ll beat her!” Meanwhile Gjessing is looking forward to reuniting with family. “My family is very supportive, but I can’t do this all year round,” she said. “I have not followed the kids to school since May and I hardly pick them up, so now, I am ready for some family time.” In the aftermath of cancer, the combination of para-taekwondo and victory has proven effective life therapy. “I love doing taekwondo, I love the sport, I love the kicking, I love the people,” she mused. “Doing something you like and winning a world championship fills a center in your brain: I think I am happier than before.” That is confirmed by her colleagues. “She is such a joy to be with,” said Danish team head and president of the Danish Taekwondo Federation, Ejnar Skovgaard Mikkelson. “There is such a joy in her, and in this arena, too; you don’t feel that so much in ordinary taekwondo.” Johansen puts it succinctly: para-taekwondo, he says, is “gasoline for life.” And Gjessing plans to motor on. “I hope that this goes through to the Paralympics, that is the big dream,” she said. “If it is in Tokyo in 2020, I can promise you: I’ll be ready!”

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Para-Taekwondo > Athlete Stories

Hasim Celik: 2013 Gold Medalist Edged Out in Moscow, Takes Home Bronze

W

atching Hasim Celik fight, one is reminded of a comment by Russian Taekwondo Union President Anatoly Terekhov: “You would not realize he is disabled.” In his K44, -75kg match against Boris Chepurenkov at the 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships in Moscow, Russia, the 23-year-old Turk adopted a wide stance, weight forward, stalking his opponent. Switching feet fluently, he controlled the distance, firing fluid round kicks off both forward and back legs, varied with a front pushing kick. Although he was unable to fully deploy the point-winning jumping back spinning kick he had landed three times in his first match against Russian Makhdi Amarov – Chepurenkov jammed the kicks - Celik’s rear-leg round kick, fired from the clinch-break, made an audible “thwack” as it knifed in under Chepurenkov’s guard. Final result: 5-1. That victory, following his earlier win, put Celik comfortably through to the quarterfinals. Off the mats, Celik analyzed the match. “My coach ordered me to control the fight and to watch the opponent – to see his power, his speed, his empty spot,” he explained. “After that, he ordered me to fire my techniques into the open spot. It got good results.” But things did not do either Celik or his coach’s way in his semifinal match against Russia’s Magomedzagir Isaldibirov.

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Para-Taekwondo > Athlete Stories

Although Celik dropped his opponent twice, the hits were not registered on the PSS and the pacey Isaldibirov returned fire with a flurry of kicks, moving ahead in the scoring. With the clock ticking, Celik unleashed a full arsenal of high-scoring techniques – jump spinning round kicks and jump spinning back kicks - keeping his opponent under pressure right up to the bell. But the final score was still 5-2 to the home-crowd favorite (who eventually took silver). That left Celik with a deserved bronze in one of the championships’ most competitive categories. Looking downcast in the stands after his loss, Celik managed to summon up a smile and a shrug for those giving their condolences. “Maybe next time!” he said. Soft-spoken and with a thoughtful demeanor, Celik, who was born with missing fingers and toes, was always shy: “When I was a child, I was so embarrassed because of my disability.” His father forced him socialize with other children and registered him on a football team, but the young Celik used to hide his hands behind his back - which did little for his play. His father, seeing this, offered him 10 marks for every goal he scored. The tactic worked, and his football improved. Celik, currently based in Germany, started taekwondo after watching one of the sport’s superstars, Servet Tazegul, at the Bavarian Championships in 2006. “I saw Servet doing all these tremendous kicks, these fancy looking techniques, I asked him how he did them and he told me to come and learn too,” Celik recalls. “So I did.” The two train in the same club and became very close – to the point where Celik was the witness at Tazegul’s wedding. Tazegul was on his honeymoon during the championship, but still messaged Celik to wish him luck. “Even on his honeymoon, Servet is thinking about

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taekwondo!” Celik said. Celik had a formidable talent for the sport. This, married with a daily, after-school training program, won him silver at the European Championships in Bucharest in 2013 and a gold at the World Para-Taekwondo Championships in Lausanne in the same year, making him one of para-taekwondo’s top players. “His big advantage is he can attack with both his front and his back leg and his distancing is very good,” said Turkish Coach Yilmaz Polat. “And he always listens to my orders during matches.” Coaching may be one of the reasons for Celik’s pre-match calm. While he admits that he is nervous before matches – he does deep breathing exercises on match-day mornings – he says he does not focus on who his upcoming opponents are, letting his coach take care of that. During events, he manages stress by talking with his teammates about anything but taekwondo. Aside from taekwondo, Celik’s goal is to finish university – he is a student at Germany’s Friedrich Alexander University - and become a lawyer or a judge. But he also hopes his chosen sport will enter the Paralympics. And if it does, he could become a rich man. “Olympic sports are very well supported by the Turkish government,” said fellow Turk and WTF Auditor Ali Sagirkaya, who estimates that Tazegul was awarded around US$1 million for his Olympic gold. But currently, para-taekwondo is not in the Paralympics, meaning that there is little cash available in the sport - even in a country as taekwondo-crazy as Turkey. However, for Celik, none of this is important. “I don’t do this for the money, I am in love with this sport,” he said. “If I raise the Turkish flag over the arena, that is my reward; it is worth millions to me.”

‘I am in love with this sport. If I raise the Turkish flag over the arena, that is my reward; it is worth millions to me‘ - Hasim Celik, athlete

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Para-Taekwondo > Athlete Stories

Kazak Spin Kicks His Way to Victory in Moscow Olof Hannson, the WTF’s coordinator for para-taekwondo was standing on the sidelines of the competition area of the 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships when he noticed one of the tournament’s most favored fighters, Kazakhstan’s Nyshan Omirali, talking animatedly on a mobile phone. “I felt joy, excitement and fulfillment,” said the athlete. “The first person I contacted was my mother!” The 22-year-old had every reason to feel on top of the world: He had just been crowned world champion in the K42, +75kg category after a series of tough fights, notably against opposition from Azerbaijan.

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Para-Taekwondo > Athlete Stories

Omirali had previously played football, before being introduced to taekwondo by his coach, Almas Abdikairov. In the run-up to the competition, Omirali was put through a grueling work-up: cross-training, overall physical conditioning and match-specific training. The preparation was particularly important for Omirali, as Moscow marked the first time he had stepped onto the mats of a world championship. “It was my first experience at the top level,” Omirali said. Once he landed in Moscow, Omirali would find that it was not just the intense physical preparation that would carry him toward gold. As the fraught action in the Dinamo Sports Palace got underway, he would be favored by the rules. With head kicks disallowed for the safety of the para-athletes, the WTF had put a premium on spinning kicks to the body, which scored two points, compared to one point for normal kicks. And Omirali’s favorite technique is his scorching spinning back kick. The back kick is a standout technique of taekwondo. A crowd-pleasing move, delivered with a full body spin and often also a jump, it is used largely in counter attacks. Known in martial arts and combat sports circles as one of the most powerful blows the human body can deliver, it smashes into the opponent’s body protector. This, then, would be the move that Omirali unleashed time and again. “My favorite technique is the back kick,” he recalled. “I am glad it worked for me.” And with the action over, Omirali had done what he had set out to do. “My ultimate goal was only gold, and only first place!” he said. Goal achieved.

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Para-Taekwondo > Athlete Stories

Ghanaian Athlete Urges Disabled: ‘Don’t Sit in Your Room, Don’t Lock the Door’

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Ghanaian athlete preparing for the upcoming 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships here in Moscow has an inspirational message for disabled people internationally. “To all my disabled friends all over the world, taekwondo is beautiful, taekwondo is sweet,” said Sharon Akewi, 30. ”If you are a disabled person like me, don’t sit in your room, don’t lock the door, come into taekwondo, you will have a great opportunity.” He should know. Akewi lost two fingers of his right hand at the age of 25, but that did not keep him from the sport he has loved since the age of 12. “My master came to visit me in the hospital and motivated me to never give up, to keep practicing.” After one year

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of rehab, he did exactly that. “If you love it, no predicament is going to make you stop what you love to do,” he added. Now a taekwondo coach himself, Akewi was in Moscow with buddy John Bodu, 25. Bodu lost his right arm in an accident at age 14, but took up disabled football and para-cycling before being introduced to taekwondo by Akewi. The two are both attending their first para-taekwondo championship – and both are confident. “I know the sky will not be the limit,” said Bodu, who has medaled for Ghana in other para-sports. “I want to do the same for taekwondo, I want to be the world’s best!” They have their sights set on gold, which they hope to win not just for

Ghana, but for “Africa as a whole.” They also have aspirational sporting benchmarks, which they hope will elevate their chosen game into the big leagues. “Just like you have world-class players – Messi or Ronaldo in football, Pacquiao or Mayweather in boxing– we hope taekwondo is going to be lifted up to that level,” said Akewi. “When you hear about world champions, you will hear about Sharon Akewi and John Bodu! You make the name, you make the fame, you make the money.” Even so, however hard they fight on the mats, the two know they face another struggle back home – the struggle against prejudice.

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‘I know the sky will not be the limit ... I want to be the world’s best!’ - Sharon Akewi

“In Ghana, it is not easy to have this hand and say you want to train someone,” said Akewi. “In Ghana it is very hard to do disabled sports,” added Bodu. “They normally take care of able-bodied sports, but not disabled sports.” And they both note a lack of financial support – they are “financially disabled” as Akewi puts it – and suffer from a dearth of training equipment such as uniforms and protective gear. Both made pleas for philanthropists to step in an assist the sport in their country and across the African continent. Given this, they both hope for a strong public reception when the games begin on Saturday (June 21, 2014) “Disabled sports is like able-bodied sports,” said Bodu, adding that he hopes for strong crowd support … “to boost our morale so we can do something for the nation.“

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Part 2.

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New Protocol Holds Promise of Global Taekwondo Cooperation WTF Invites ITF President, ITF Demonstration Team to 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships

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The global taekwondo family may at last come together under one roof at the upcoming 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in May in Russia. Steps have been taken to bring the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) closer than they have ever been before. WTF President Chungwon Choue wrote in January 2015 to ITF President Ung Chang, requesting an ITF taekwondo demonstration and Chang's attendance at the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, to be held on May 1218, 2015.

The WTF is awaiting the ITF response. This development springs from a Protocol of Accord that was signed by WTF President Choue and ITF President Chang on Aug. 21, 2014. The signing took place in Nanjing, China, during the 2nd Youth Olympic Games and was personally overseen by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Dr. Thomas Bach. Under the protocol, athletes registered with the WTF and the ITF are free to compete in the other federation’s competitions, obviously under the rules and formats of the separate organizations. This creates exciting new opportunities, granting the world's very best taekwondo ath-

letes the chance to compete with one another, regardless of which federation they belong to. The two federations are seeking various ways to increase cooperation for the benefit of the entire global sport. "The WTF is always looking at ways to develop and evolve taekwondo for the benefit of athletes and fans around the world, and opening up our relationship with the ITF is a key way of doing this," Choue said. "In this regard, the upcoming 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships may be the starting point for our relations with the ITF, and I look forward to the ITF's positive response."

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New Protocol Holds Promise of Global Taekwondo Cooperation

If this new protocol leads to real cooperation between the two federations, it would overcome decades of disappointments. Integration efforts between the WTF and the ITF date back to January 1982, when the two sides held their first round of talks in Vancouver, Canada. In 1980, the IOC recognized the WTF as the sole international body governing global taekwondo. In August 2002, former WTF President Unyong Kim met with ITF President Chang in Monaco to agree to push for taekwondo exchanges. On Aug. 20, 2003, the WTF and

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the ITF announced a mutual agreement on the integration matters between the two bodies during the 2003 Summer Universiade in Daegu, Korea. After current WTF President Choue was inaugurated in June 2004, Choue met with ITF President Chang in Athens, Greece during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. In June 2005 at the IOC headquarters, Choue and Chang agreed to develop a committee to discuss integration plans, arbitrated by then-IOC President Jacques Rogge. After four working-level talks, the

two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on Dec. 2, 2006 in Doha, Qatar on the formation of a coordination committee to discuss integration matters of the two taekwondo bodies. Since then, the two sides held five Taekwondo Integration Coordination Committee meetings in Beijing, China, with the last one taking place in September 2008. These efforts made little headay, but the new protocol offers enticing potential to overcome the schism in the sport.

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An extraordinary WTF Council meeting was held on January 16, 2015 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand with the attendance of 25 Council members and two auditors. WTF President Chungwon Choue opened the meeting by thanking Dr. Nat Indrapana, the IOC member from Thailand, and Mr. Pimol Srivikorn, president of the Taekwondo Association of Thailand, for their great efforts in preparations for the meeting. Dr. Choue congratulated the two new WTF Council members - Mr. Sung-chon Hong and Mr. Jonathan Nnaji.

Extraordinary WTF Council Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on January 16, 2015

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In his opening speech, WTF President Choue summarized all the activities taken by the WTF since its last Council meeting in Bhutan in October last year. He also introduced major points of the Olympic Agenda 2020, which was unanimously approved by the IOC. The Council approved all the amendment proposals on the WTF Competition Rules, the WTF Ranking Bylaw, the WTF Para-Taekwondo and Deaf-Taekwondo Classification Rules and Regulations, the WTF Statutes and the Bylaws of Dispute Resolution & Disciplinary Actions. The Council also selected Samsun, Turkey as the host city of the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 2, replacing Doha, Qatar, which has withdrawn from hosting.

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Extraordinary WTF Council Meeting

Dr. Choue announced that he made the difficult decision to dismiss Dr. Jean-Marie Ayer from his position as WTF Secretary General

During the progress report on the para-taekwondo movement, Dr. Choue committed to making taekwondo a sport for athletes of all impairments.

Dr. Choue assured the Council attendees that the WTF office in Lausanne will stay as it is.

Following the approval of the IOC on full membership for the Kosovo Olympic Committee, the Council also approved putting on the agenda of the WTF General Assembly the approval of full membership of the Kosovo Taekwondo Federation.

the WTF should move forward and make taekwondo a sport more marketable and more accessible to all, and achieve good governance.

Before closing the meeting, Dr. Choue announced that he made the difficult decision to dismiss Dr. Jean-Marie Ayer from his position as WTF secretary general. He said the decision was made, due to a structural situation where the secretary general in Lausanne, Switzerland and the WTF secretariat in Korea are located too far away from each other, causing administrative inefficiencies. Choue said that the WTF needs to react fast and effectively in a situation in which the world of sports is moving fast.

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In closing the meeting, Dr. Choue said that

Dr. Choue urged changes by quoting a passage from the speech of IOC President Dr. Thomas Bach: “We are now in a position to drive change ourselves, rather than being driven.� The next WTF Council meeting will take place on May 10, 2015 in Chelyabinsk, Russia in conjunction with the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships. Early on the same day, a WTF Expansion Committee meeting was held, with attendance of the representatives of the Continental Unions to deal with the update to the Global Membership System and the ranking systems of WTF National Associations.

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ucation programs” – as being the key to the success of taekwondo in London 2012. And the changes keep coming. “The challenge and the evolution did not stop in London but is still ongoing, with more improvements towards Rio 2016, by introducing an even better PSS technology with electronic head guards,” he said. Still as the electronic sensors built into the PSS are replacing human judgment, how do referees – frankly - see the system?

Working Up the Refs: Selection and Preparation for Rio 2016 Those athletes bemoaning their exhausting preparations for Rio 2016 should spare a thought for the referees, who have exhausting preparations and awesome responsibilities of their own ...

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It is not just taekwondo’s athletes who are sweating their way through the work up to Rio 2016. The sport’s overseers are equally preoccupied.

in order to have enough time for training, Chelbat said. However, the exact date will be decided based upon the deadline set by the IOC.

Just ask Chakir Chelbat – who, as head of the WTF’s Referee Committee, has the weighty responsibility of ensuring that just as the athletes must peak before stepping onto the mats, the sport as a whole must hit a peak of fairness and transparency before it ventures, once more, into the Olympic limelight.

And Chelbat and his crew are coming off a very busy 2014, overseeing competitions on all five continents. “We had a very successful Grand Prix Series, a great Grand Prix Final and a successful World Cadet Championships just to mention a few of them,” Chelbat said. “We saw many improvements with the new WTF Competition Rules, this evolution is still going forward.”

This is a particularly tricky business, given the WTF’s constant tweaking of rules to ensure that taekwondo is as spectator-friendly as possible. “We are dealing with several important key issues such as improving the education program for referees with implementation with the new WTF Competition Rules,” said the Swede. “Another important issue is the fair and transparent referee selection process for the Rio Olympic Games 2016.” Selection is no simple matter, Chelbat noted. The WTF will be holding three Olympic selection camps. The first will be held in Mexico in March 2015 for Pan American referees; the second will be held in Moscow, Russia in April for African and European referees; and the third, for Asia and Oceania, will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, also in April 2015. The selection of the final 30 referees for the Games will be made prior to June 2015

But given that taekwondo is – unlike, say football – in a constant process of adjustments to its Competition Rules, the job of the referees is made doubly difficult as they need to keep up to date with this process of change. Asked about the differences he saw before he took up the Referee Committee chairmanship, Chelbat – who has 25 years of experience as a WTF referee - answered, “So many major changes! After the Beijing Olympic Games, there has been an evolution of WTF taekwondo to make the sport more attractive, competition more dynamic, more transparent and improve the spirit of fair play.” Chelbat has overseen the introduction of the PSS system and the Instant video replay system for the London Olympic Games. He cites these advances – along with “fair and transparent referee selection and efficient and better referee ed-

“I have a very positive opinion about using PSS,” he responded. “In the past, human error was a big issue and it did victimize many players, but using the PSS has helped and improved a lot the transparency of the games by minimizing human error.” But with all the sensor technology entering the sport, isn’t the authority of the referee being undermined? “I will put it this way. I don’t think it has anything to do with authority!” he said. “Our goal is to offer maximum transparency and fairness to the games.” He added that overall, the sensors are improving, but the newly introduced PSS headgear still has bugs: “I believe we will be ready for Rio 2016, but we need to work even more with it,” he said. As to the future of the sport, the WTF’s top referee believes that the organization has already mastered the challenges of fairness and transparency; now it needs to focus its energies on marketing. “The WTF, under the leadership of President Choue, has already reached a level of fair play and transparency, so should focus more to improve the marketing of taekwondo through media, television and social media,” he mused. “I believe a lot of work has been done, but the locomotive is still going forward: the London Olympic Games were a great success, but Rio will be even better.” His final thoughts are probably not that dissimilar to that of the sweat-soaked athletes his committee will soon be overseeing: “I’m looking forward to a great challenge in Rio 2016!” he said.

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WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team

Higher, Faster, Stronger – and More Entertaining They may deliver the most spectacular displays in the world of martial arts, but the elite WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team is not standing still: they are upgrading their act with an influx of creative disciplines. Here’s how …

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It is probably best not to mention the year, or the location, or the taekwondo club concerned. Suffice to say: A new sports center was opening in the U.K. Hundreds of spectators had shown up at the sparkling new venue to watch demonstrations of the various sports to be taught and practiced. On one side of the hall, dance muzak pumped as a group of lycra-clad ladies energetically demonstrated aerobics routines. On the other side of the hall, a taekwondo display kicked off. The high-

light of the demonstration was defense against a knife attack. The weapon was brandished; a swift kick sent it flying. The audience let out an “Aaaaah!” of appreciation. They watched in breathless amazement as the shining blade whirled through the air… … and buried itself to the hilt in the thigh of one of the aerobics ladies. A scream rang out. Blood spurted. The audience’s amazement turned to

horror.  An ambulance was summoned and the demonstrators were led away by police. End result: The taekwondo club was not invited to teach at the sports center. Such disasters are happily alien to what may be the world’s premier martial arts demonstration squad: The WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team.   Yet despite this elite team’s apparent professionalism, all team members are unpaid amateurs.

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WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team

Meet the Elite So what are the qualifications? “We need good skills, good attitudes – and a good face!” said team member Mi-ra Song, 23. “Number one is spirit, number two is skill and number three is potential,” added team Head Coach Dong-sung Choe, 48. Like other team members, Song is a taekwondo major at a Korean university – in her case, Kyung Hee - who was recommended by her professor for inclusion in the team.  That means that in addition to her regular studies at college, she works out for about nine hours every weekend with the rest of the team.

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WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team Training is grueling. “The basic skills are taekwondo poomsae and target practice, then we do jumping, gymnastics, acrobatics and tricking,” Song said.  “And every day ,  running and conditioning!” The team is also taught “special skills” by the team’s creative head, General Director Sang-ho Lee. The advantages of being a team member are two-fold. Travel is one: Ji-seok Lee, a 23-year-old at Yongin University, has visited 35 different nations. Prestige is two – putting “WTF Demo Team Member” looks good on the CV of any taekwondo practitioner. Indeed, Song is soon to take up a full-time position as the poomsae coach ofTeam Mexico, while Lee hopes to become a TV and film actor.

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The team has demonstrated in some unusual locations: It has given shows in the moat surrounding the 11th century Tower of London, and on the helicopter landing pad of the famous Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The team also conducts “guerilla demonstrations” – short and snappy displays done without planning permissions – at city centers, landmarks, parks and shopping centers.  These demos draw the eye of the public who might not ordinarily attend a taekwondo event.  “People who are just walking by see us, stop and watch the demo,” said Ji-seok Lee. In London in 2012, the team performed during the down-time between bouts of the taekwondo competition at the

Summer Olympics – making taewondo the only sport in the Games to feature demonstrations as well as competition. Still, given that Olympic bouts showcase the world’s top taekwondo talent doing live battle, why carry out demonstrations? “I have always said that WTF taekwondo has two faces,” said WTF President Chungwon Choue. “One is martial art; one is Olympic sport,” “Sparring is not the whole of taekwondo, it is just one little part,” added Coach Choe. “Taekwondo is not only kyorugi, it is also poomse, kyukpa (breaking) and self-defense - all those things. And taekwondo demonstrations are very beautiful, exciting, varied and skillful!” 

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WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team

More than Taekwondo Once upon a time, taekwondo demonstrations were carried out by stern-faced masters in white dobok showcasing classic martial art skills: kicks, poomsae, breaking,  self-defense. That kind of demo has now passed its sell-by date. This means a new format was needed to keep taekwondo cutting-edge. “Martial arts demonstrations used to be traditional looking, but now they are more like entertainment,”  Choue recalled. “A public-friendly demonstration was very necessary.” Choue’s suggestion eventually resulted in the hiring of General Director Lee, a  musical director.

This innovative new approach meant looking beyond traditional Korean taekwondo. “The Korea situation now is just taekwondo, it has not changed, it remains stationary,” said Lee, the creative director.  “I am a musical director, and it is very important to see that taekwondo is powerful, not boring, but it has to be interesting and fun, with dancing and music - it develops.” Today’s WTF Demonstration Team show is a varied, upbeat and funky presentation. Music, lighting and  computer-generated audio visuals are fully leveraged; acrobatics and dance are mixed with the more customary taekwondo skills; and colorful costumes have replaced the plain dobok of yore. And it is no longer just about the Korea-originated sport. The team integrates samplings of the native cultural elements of the nations they demonstrate in.

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WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team “For example, traditional Mexican music is very famous, so we developed that, along with dancing,” said Lee. “In Indonesia, we developed traditional Indonesian music, because the WTF Demonstration Team is not just for Korea – we develop every day, for every country.” These creative elements were blended together in the demonstrations performed in Queretaro, Mexico at the Grand Prix Final and World Cup Team Championships. The show’s aural component included thunderous martial music, festive Latin numbers and even some Michael Jackson. Computer graphics, relayed on giant LED screens suspended above the field of play, seemed inspired by computer games, but also included animated watercolour-style CG renditions of old Korea. Costumes ranged from traditional Mexican threads to brightly colored dobok. The physical agenda included group dance, acrobatics and static martial poses. But of course taekwondo – in the form of traditional poomsae, creative poomsae, self-defense and some spectacular breaks – was center-stage.  “Tradition is very important,” said Lee. “I develop, but I don’t touch the traditions.” The team changes its routine every six months. Team members have various ideas for the creative components they would like to incorporate in future shows. Ji-soek Lee suggests adding Korean drumming and pop music; Sang-ho Lee is inspired by Canada’s  Cirque de Soleil and by Korea’s nonverbal martial arts performance “Jump.” Adding storylines and upgrading costumes are further areas for improvement. “I am developing writing and I want very colorful costumes, musical costumes, dancing costumes,” Lee, the creative director, said.  “Our programs are very short, so I want to use velcro costumes for fast changes.” He is even mulling spicing up the shows with a little sex-appeal - perhaps by adjustments to the female members’ uniforms or to their dance numbers.  That idea may not pass muster with team members; Song raised her eyebrows at the suggestion. Asked what she thought, she responded with a diplomatic, “I don’t know …”

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WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team

Adding Global Talent Beyond mastering creative challenges, the team now faces another issue. Thus far, it has recruited exclusively among Korean university taekwondo departments, but with the WTF promoting teakwondo as a global sport, the team has to expand not just its cultural influences, but also its membership. “I told the team to bring Russian demonstration athletes to train together and perform together in Chelyabinsk [the World Championships site] next year, and I am going to invite Latin American athletes - they have nice poomsae,” said Choue. “We need African faces and Middle Eastern faces - it has to be international!” By leveraging his contacts in the entertainment industry, upgrading the team’s performances skills and putting taekwondo in front of new audiences, Lee even hopes to expand the job pool for taekwondo players. “Next year I want to go to America, to Broadway, with a non-verbal performance: I have connections in America,” he said. “In the future, this could be a new job for demonstration team mem-

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bers - for these kids now, the only job they can have is coach. I want to create a new job for them.” All this means ever more spectacular, ever more varied demonstrations. And that means – hopefully – that the WTF Demonstration Team will avoid the kind of disaster suffered by the anonymous  taekwondo team at the start of our story. Even so, Coach Lee admits his team did commit one faux pas. One risky feature of the WTF Demo Team performances is the flying wood from boards splintered during breaking demonstrations. And when the team were performing at a highly prestigious venue – the Presidential Palace of Honduras – a high-velocity chunk of wood shattered a chandelier. Fortunately nobody was arrested.  “The president of Honduras is a taekwondo fourth dan,” Lee recalled with a smile. “So he just said, ‘Very good!’”   With friends like that across the globe – well, the WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team  has plenty of international potential.

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WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team

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WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team

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Honorary

Dan Croatian President Ivo Josipovic Nov. 14, 2014

WTF President Chungwon Choue (left) poses with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, after delivering an honorary 9th-dan black-belt certificate and a dobok to him at a ceremony at the Croatian President’s office in Zagreb, Croatia on November 14, 2014.

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Continental Unions

AFTU

Dear friends and colleagues, As 2014 has come to an end with all its victories, defeats, hopes, disappointments, aspirations and achievements, we are now in the enviable position of being able to say: “Goodbye 2014 and welcome 2015.” On this occasion, let me first wish each and every member of our taekwondo family a very happy, healthy and successful year 2015. Reviewing the past year 2014, I believe we had quite a successful year for both WTF, as well as for the AFTU. Let me start with WTF achievements, of which I will only present the highlights due to lack of space. One of the major successes definitely is that para-taekwondo is now in the Paralympic Games in 2020. This clearly is the result of a lot of hard work from Dr. Chungwon Choue, who relentlessly kept on urging Continental Unions and their MNAs to recruit, develop and motivate Paralympic athletes to participate in every Paralympic event. The 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships, which were held on June 21-22, 2014 in Moscow, Russia, was the most prominent of these. It reflected immense enthusiasm and will power of the Paralympic athletes. Congratulations to the WTF and its president for making the event such a success. With full conviction of the importance of promoting para-taekwondo across Africa, the AFTU has included it in the 2015 African Junior Championships which will be held in Algeria in April, 2015. It is the first step towards establishing solid grounds for further developing para-taekwondo, and I am eagerly awaiting the results. Moving on to another subject, the WTF has amended its anti-doping rules and regulations to be in compliance with WADA rules, and I believe this will even further improve the image of our beloved sport. It is of utmost importance to convince the world, that taekwondo implies fairness and honesty. Another highlight in AFTU achievements in 2014, and in my opinion maybe the biggest one, is the introduction of our new AFTU website early this year. It is a major tool to bring all the African taekwondo family closer. The site not only keeps you updated with achievements, news and information on AFTU Member National Associations, but also keeps our doors open to any request, new idea, complaint or even just a friendly chat. We are also very happy to receive remarks and we encourage everyone to participate, if only with a picture from his or her country.

5th World Para-Taekwondo Championships

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Regarding events in 2015, we are going to have 2nd Luxor Open (G2), 1st AFTU Open (G1) in Egypt, the African Junior Championships in Algeria (G4), and the African Olympic Taekwondo Qualification in Morocco, in addition to the All African Games (G4) in Congo’s Brazzaville. So, our calendar is quite packed and I hope that this year will be a great year for African taekwondo and for all those involved in promoting it. Wishing all of you the best of success in 2015!

Gen. Ahmed Fouly President, African Taekwondo Union Vice President, WTF

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Continental Unions

ATU

Dear taekwondo family, Best wishes, happiness, and health to you all in the New Year! I join the taekwondo family in celebrating 60 years of training and learning - as a student, as an athlete, as a coach, as a manager, and as a taekwondo department professor. After beginning as secretary general in 1983, I became vice president, and with your support, president of the Asian Taekwondo Union in 2013. Now I would like to share with you some impressions and experiences that will, I hope, grant some inspiration. In the early 1980s, Korean heavyweight athletes were often losing to their foreign counterparts. One of my heavyweight students, despite having excellent stamina, fell short in the realms of technique and mental strength. Even so, after two years of intense training, he made the national team and went on to compete in the 1983 World Taekwondo Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. During the preliminaries, after kicking an opponent squarely in the face, the opponent, angry and humiliated, retaliated with an illegal punch to the face, breaking my student’s nose. Bleeding heavily, and facing a final match against the champion from the previous world championships, the athlete began to lose his fighting spirit and give into fear. But with the help of the U.S. team supervisor Mu-yeong Lee, I managed to get some medication from the U.S. team doctor, and, administering it to my athlete, told him that it was a special prescription to stop the bleeding and boost his energy. Trusting in me (and the power of this special medicine), he went on to win the gold medal. In fact, I had just given him antacids. At the same championships, our lightweight had also been injured and lost the use of his left foot. However, through sheer determination and indomitable spirit, he fought through to the finals and managed to win the gold medal.

1983 World Taekwondo Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark

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TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

My point is that without these obstacles to overcome - without the challenge of a stronger opponent or the weakness of an injury - these two athletes would have never been able to win. It’s normal for people to be afraid or give up when confronted with difficult or painful situations. Taekwondo, however, teaches us to overcome our weakness; it inculcates us with a sense of mental strength and steers us away from our natural tendencies toward laziness and fear. Success and happiness are not achieved through material wealth, nor produced by our environment. They are a product of our own perspectives - of the taekwondo mentality, which teaches us to make the best of our situation and to reach for and realize our goals. This is a tremendous gift, for it makes us the authors of our own happiness. With this in mind, I eagerly anticipate the promising year ahead of our great sport. Finally, we should all once again celebrate taekwondo’s successful adoption into the 2020 Olympic Games as a core sport.

Kyu-seok Lee President, Asian Taekwondo Union

Around the WTF

147


Continental Unions

ETU

Ladies and gentlemen, First of all, I would like to wish all members of the global taekwondo family a prosperous, happy and above all healthy New Year! Looking back at 2014, I can only conclude that time flies! The event calendar of the year was full. I am very pleased that the WTF Council agreed with an event schedule in which we all have to plan our events in advance and in a particular time frame. This will help us a lot to organize our events better and will eventually benefit our athletes! In 2014, the ETU’s Member National Associations organized a record number of G-ranking events throughout Europe. These events are becoming more professional each year and allow our athletes to compete at the highest level, preparing them for successful participation at European and World Championships. In May last year, Azerbaijan hosted the European Senior Championships. For the first time in the history of the ETU, these championships were live broadcast on TV and in close cooperation with the European Broadcasting Union, the live feed was available worldwide. In the future, the ETU will continue to work on making taekwondo available on the TVs of million of people. The operations of the ETU Office in Athens were very successful under the leadership of ETU Secretary General Michail Fysentzidis. The office was available for questions from our members, organized multiple ETU events and played a crucial role in the success of the ETU operations in 2014. Several ETU Council members visited the office in Athens and multiple meetings were organized in the new office. With only one year to go to the next Olympics, 2015 will be a crucial year for our athletes to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The ETU and its officials and staff will do their utmost to facilitate our athletes on their road to Rio. The event calendar of 2015 is already full with crucial G-ranking events and several ETU events have been planned already. The ETU coach seminar courses will be executed in 2015 and the WTF GAL license will be mandatory for all G-ranking events in 2015. The ETU will continue to work closely with the WTF and other Continental Unions for the future development of taekwondo.

Mount Bazarduzu, the highest peak of Azerbaijan

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Finally, I would like to thank in particular President Chungwon Choue for his inspirational leadership. In addition, I would like to thank all ETU Council members, staff, volunteers, referees, organizers and those who spent their time contributing to our beloved sport taekwondo. Without your valued and committed contribution, none of the events and activities that took place in the past and will take place in the future could have been possible. Thank you for your contributions! Sincerely yours,

Athanasios Pragalos President, European Taekwondo Union

Around the WTF

149


Continental Unions

PATU

Dear PATU family and friends, On behalf of the Pan American Taekwondo Union Executive Committee and Council, I would like to extend my sincere wishes to you and your federation in the year of the Blue Ram/Sheep! Traditionally in East Asia, the year of the Blue Ram/Sheep represents peace and positive energy throughout the year. I wish all members of world taekwondo family a peaceful New Year, filled with positive energy and success in all your endeavors. 2015 is panning out to be yet another exciting one, busy with events scheduled throughout the year. The following list of events are scheduled to take place this year. 1. WTF G Ranking Events: U.S. Open (Jan.), Canada Open (Feb.), Mexico Open (March), Paraguay Open (May), Bolivia Open (June), Chile Open (TBD), Argentina Open (Aug.), Colombia Open (Sept.), and Pan Am Open (Sept.)

2. PATU Events: Qualification Tournament for Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games: Aguascalientes, Mexico, March 11~12 Pan Am Cadet and Junior Poomsae and Kyorugi Championships, and Pan Am Para-Taekwondo Championships: Boyaca, Colombia, September (Dates to be decided) South American Championships: Lima, Peru (Dates to be decided) Caribbean Championships: To be decided 1st Pan Am University Club Championships: Mexico (Dates and place to be decided) 1st Pan Am Club Championships: To be decided

3. PATU Educational Seminars and Courses: PATU Intercontinental Coach Certification Courses: Prior to various PATU and WTF G Events WTF/PATU Olympic Referee Training: Aguascalientes, Mexico, March 8~10 PATU Poomsae and Kyorugi Referee Certification Courses: Prior to various PATU and WTF G Events PATU/Kukkiwon Instructor Certification Course and Special Dan Test: Feb., Dominican Republic PATU Poomsae and Kyorugi Technical Seminars: Various MNAs

4. PASO/ODEPA Event: Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games: Mississauga Sports Center, Toronto, Canada, July 19~22, 2015 PATU will also have our bi-annual General Assembly prior to the Pan Am Cadet and Junior Championships to be held in Colombia. The ATU Statutes Revision Committee will submit their proposal prior to the General Assembly for your review and take any recommendations for the final version to be adopted.

Shinarump Conglomerate

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TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Ji-ho Choi President, Pan American Taekwondo Union

Around the WTF

151


Continental Unions

OTU

Dear members and friends, In 2014 the OTU was proud to have hosted the 2014 Oceania Championships and the 2014 Australian Open in Sydney, Australia. These events provided our Oceania athletes with the opportunity to compete at the highest international level and helped develop our up-and-coming athletes from around the region. These two events provided them with a great opportunity to compete with some of the best athletes in the world. In 2015, the Australian Open is scheduled to take place in Melbourne, Australia, on the last weekend of June. This G2 event is now scheduled to take place on June 26-27, 2015. Further details of the event will soon be published . In July 2015 the Oceania region will also host the 2015 Pacific Games, a multi-sport event in our region. The Pacific Games will be held in Papua New Guinea in the city of Post Moresby and the taekwondo events will be held between July 4-8, 2015. The Oceania region has been instrumental in working with other Continental Unions in developing and implementing a coaching accreditation which will soon be implemented in the Oceania region which will enable our coaches to be accredited and qualified. This accreditation will be universally recognized between the WTF’s Continental Unions and is a great initiative in ensuring our coaches are properly trained and accredited. The 2016 Rio Games are not far away, so the year 2015 will be a period of consolidation and a year during which our athletes attempt to qualify for Rio via the GP events and ultimately via the Continental Union Olympic qualification event. The Oceania region has in the past produced Olympic gold and silver medalists as well as world champions and in 2015 our efforts are focused on improving our athletes’ world standing and ensuring we qualify as many athletes from as many Oceania countries as possible for Rio 2016. In 2015, the Oceania region will also host the first Oceania Para-Taekwondo Championships which will be hosted in conjunction with the 2015 Australian Open in June 2015. This will be a great opportunity for our Oceania para-taekwondo athletes to compete at an international level within our region. There is much work to be done in the Oceania region to assist our developing athletes and developing member countries. Access to solidarity funds and WTF development funds will be essential to assist our member nations and their athletes. We look forward to working with the WTF and all other Continental Unions to develop our sport worldwide, and particularly within the Oceania region.

Sydney Opera House

152

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Phillip Walter Coles President, Oceania Taekwondo Union

Around the WTF

153


World Taekwondo Peace Corps:

Hope and Dreams to Youth of the World Taekowndo Peace Corps Short-Term Projects

Asia

Nepal

8

(China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Paraguay)

Laos

6

32 members in 8 countries

Malaysia

4

(Greece, Russia, Morocco, Bolivia, Uzbekistan, Egypt, China, Kyrgyzstan)

Myanmar

4

48 members in 12 countries

Indonesia

4

(El Salvador, India, Isle of Man, Bhutan, Samoa, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Poland, Angola, Philippines, Azerbaijan)

Kazakhstan

4

98 members in 24 countries

Cambodia

8

Africa

Seychelles

4

Oceania

New Zealand

4

Kiribati

4

Tuvalu

4

Papua New Guinea

3

Fiji

5

Sweden

2

Estonia

2

Poland

4

Bolivia

3

Paraguay

10

1st

July-Aug.

27 members in 5 countries

2nd

Jan.-Feb.

4th

Dispatch 2008 2009 July-Aug.

2009 Jan.-Feb.

2010

5th

July-Aug.

6th

Jan.-Feb.

7th

July-Aug.

8th

Jan.-Feb.

9th

July-Aug.

10th

Jan.-Feb.

11th

July-Aug.

12th

Jan.-Feb.

13th

July-Aug.

14th

Jan.-Feb.

Total

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Country

No. of

3rd

154

Continent

Period of

Term

2010 2011 2011 2012 2012 2013 2013 2014 2014 2015

14th Term of Taekwondo Peace Corps

Dispatched Members & Countries

(Angola, D. R . Congo, Egypt, Cambodia, Iran, L aos, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Timor-Leste, Greece, Poland, Russia, New Zealand, Samoa, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Surinam)

110 members in 20 countries 107 members in 25 countries 106 members in 19 countries Europe

102 members in 22 countries 80 members in 17 countries Pan America

124 members in 27 countries 94 members in 21 countries 122 members in 26 countries

No. of Members

Total 18 countries / 83 members

107 members in 26 countries 83 members in 18 countries

1,236 members Around the WTF

155


Part 3.

MAJOR EVENTS


10th WTF

World

Junior Taekwondo Championships Location: Taipei City, Chinese Taipei Dates: March 23 - 26, 2014 Attendees: 778 athletes, 472 officials, 105 countries Overall Winners: Korea

158

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Major Events

159


10th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships

160

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

161


10th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships

Medal Standings

162

Male

Female

Rank Country G S B

Rank Country G S B

1

Korea 3 1 1

1

United Kingdom 2 0 2

2

Iran 1 2 1

2

Croatia 2 0 0

3

Russia 1 2 0

3

Korea 1 2 2

4

Italy

1 1 2

4

Iran

5

Azerbaijan 1 1 0

5

China 1 0 1

6

Chinese Taipei 1 0 1

5

Russia 1 0 1

7

Brazil

1 0 0

7

Belgium 1 0 0

7

Spain 1 0 0

7

Germany 1 0 0

9

Turkey 0 1 2

9

Ukraine 0 2 0

10

Kazakhstan 0 1 0

10

Chinese Taipei 0 1 1

10

Thailand 0 1 0

10

France 0 1 1

12

France 0 0 4

11

Philippines 0 1 0

13

Ukraine 0 0 3

11

Puerto Rico 0 1 0

14

U.S.A.

0 0 2

11

Thailand

15

China

0 0 1

14

Greece

0 0 2

15

Netherlands 0 0 1

14

Spain

0 0 2

15

Poland 0 0 1

16

Azerbaijan 0 0 1

15

Uzbekistan 0 0 1

16

Canada 0 0 1

16

Mexico 0 0 1

16

Italy 0 0 1

16

Poland 0 0 1

16

Turkey 0 0 1

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

1 1 2

0 1 0

Major Events

163


2nd

Youth Olympic Games Location: Nanjing, China Dates: Aug. 17 - 21, 2014 (Taekwondo Competition) Attendees: 100 athletes, 59 countries Overall Winners: Chinese Taipei

164

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

165


2nd Youth Olympic Games

166

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

167


2nd Youth Olympic Games (Taekwondo)

Medal Standings

Rank

168

Country

Male

Female

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Gold

Silver

Bronze

1

Chinese Taipei

1

1

0

1

0

1

2

Iran

1

0

1

1

0

0

3

Azerbaijan

1

0

0

0

1

0

4

France

1

0

1

0

0

0

5

Brazil

1

0

0

0

0

0

5

Croatia

0

0

0

1

0

0

5

Thailand

0

0

0

1

0

0

5

United States

0

0

0

1

0

0

9

Belgium

0

0

1

0

1

1

10

Germany

0

1

1

0

0

0

10

Mexico

0

1

0

0

0

1

10

Russian Federation

0

0

0

0

1

1

10

Turkey

0

0

1

0

1

0

10

Ukraine

0

1

0

0

0

1

15

Korea

0

1

0

0

0

0

15

Uzbekistan

0

0

0

0

1

0

17

China

0

0

1

0

0

3

18

Great Britain

0

0

1

0

0

1

19

Colombia

0

0

0

0

0

1

19

Egypt

0

0

1

0

0

0

19

Spain

0

0

1

0

0

0

19

Netherlands

0

0

1

0

0

0

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

169


1st WTF World

Cadet

Taekwondo Championships

Location: Baku, Azerbaijan Dates: July 24 - 27, 2014 Attendees: 575 athletes, 62 countries Overall Winners: Iran (Male/Female)

170

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

171


1st WTF World Cadet Taekwondo Championships

172

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

173


1st WTF World Cadet Taekwondo Championships

Medal Standings

Female Rank

174

Country

Score

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Male Rank

Country

Score

Gold

Silver

Bronze

1

Iran

82

3

3

1

2

Russia

53

1

3

0

3

Korea

45

3

0

0

4

United States

41

1

0

1

5

Mexico

36

0

1

2

6

Turkey

34

0

0

3

7

Jordan

31

1

0

0

8

Kazakhstan

31

0

1

0

9

Ukraine

31

0

0

1

10

Italy

30

1

0

1

11

Azerbaijan

30

0

1

0

1

Iran

74

4

1

0

12

Egypt

29

0

0

3

2

Turkey

62

2

0

5

13

Spain

27

0

0

2

3

Chinese Taipei

49

2

0

2

14

Chinese Taipei

25

0

0

0

4

Russia

49

0

2

4

15

Germany

23

0

0

2

5

France

38

0

2

1

16

Belarus

22

0

0

0

6

Ukraine

36

1

0

0

17

Uzbekistan

20

0

0

1

7

Croatia

33

1

1

1

18

Poland

18

0

0

0

8

Great Britain

29

0

1

1

19

Serbia

17

0

0

0

9

United States

27

0

0

1

20

Australia

17

0

0

0

10

Azerbaijan

24

0

1

1

21

Finland

16

0

1

0

11

Mexico

23

0

0

0

22

France

16

0

0

1

12

Serbia

22

0

1

0

23

Philippines

15

0

0

0

13

Italy

22

0

0

1

24

Canada

15

0

0

0

14

Canada

19

0

0

1

25

Brazil

15

0

0

0

15

Kazakhstan

17

0

0

0

26

Lebanon

13

0

0

0

16

Germany

17

0

0

0

27

India

12

0

0

1

17

Jordan

17

0

0

0

28

Georgia

12

0

0

0

18

Spain

17

0

0

0

29

Great Britain

11

0

0

0

19

Australia

16

0

0

0

30

Saudi Arabia

11

0

0

0

20

Poland

14

0

0

0

31

Ecuador

9

0

0

0

21

Egypt

14

0

0

0

32

Bulgaria

9

0

0

0

22

Belarus

14

0

0

0

33

Cyprus

8

0

0

0

23

Philippines

13

0

0

1

34

Slovenia

8

0

0

0

24

Bulgaria

13

0

0

0

35

Sweden

8

0

0

0

25

Lebanon

13

0

0

0

36

Slovakia

8

0

0

0

26

Latvia

12

0

1

0

37

Denmark

7

0

0

1

27

Uzbekistan

11

0

0

0

38

Moldova

7

0

0

0

28

Czech Republic

11

0

0

0

39

Hungary

7

0

0

0

29

Brazil

11

0

0

0

40

Croatia

7

0

0

0

30

India

10

0

0

0

41

Netherlands

7

0

0

0

31

Korea

9

0

0

0

42

Martinique

6

0

0

0

32

Finland

8

0

0

0

43

Mongolia

6

0

0

0

33

Ecuador

8

0

0

0

44

Austria

5

0

0

0

34

Cyprus

6

0

0

0

45

Tajikistan

4

0

0

0

35

Romania

6

0

0

46

Bhutan

4

0

0

0

36

Moldova

5

0

0

0 1

47

Israel

4

0

0

0

37

Israel

5

0

0

0

48

Belgium

4

0

0

0

38

Peru

4

0

0

0

49

Peru

4

0

0

0

39

Palestine

3

0

0

0

50

Bosnia and Herzegovina

3

0

0

0

40

Hungary

3

0

0

0

51

Lithuania

3

0

0

0

41

Tajikistan

2

0

0

0

52

Czech Republic

3

0

0

0

42

Bhutan

2

0

0

0

53

Colombia

2

0

0

0

43

Puerto Rico

2

0

0

0

54

United Arab Emirates

2

0

0

0

44

Aruba

2

0

0

0

55

French Polynesia

2

0

0

0

45

Slovakia

2

0

0

0

56

Trinidad and Tobago

2

0

0

0

46

Sweden

2

0

0

0

57

Macedonia

2

0

0

0

47

Trinidad and Tobago

1

0

0

0

58

Romania

1

0

0

0

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

175


2014 WTF World Cup Taekwondo

Team Championships Location: Queretaro, Mexico Dates: Dec. 6 - 7, 2014 Attendees: 578 athletes, 63 countries Overall Winners: Russia (Male), Korea (Female)

176

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

177


2014 WTF World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships

178

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

179


2014 WTF World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships

Medal Standings Division

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Male

Russia

Mexico

Iran Korea

Female

Korea

Cote d’Ivoire

China France

180

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

181


9th WTF World Taekwondo

Poomsae Championships

Location: Aguascalientes, Mexico Dates: Oct. 30 - Nov. 2, 2014 Attendees: 461 athletes, 46 countries Overall Winners: Korea

182

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

183


9th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

184

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Major Events

185


9th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

Medal Standings

186

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Rank

Country

Gold

Silver

Bronze

1

Korea

13

1

2

2

China

5

0

1

3

U.S.A.

4

4

11

4

Vietnam

3

6

5

5

Philippines

3

2

3

6

Turkey

2

2

7

7

Spain

2

1

3

8

Mexico

1

7

9

9

Chinese Taipei

1

5

3

10

Germany

1

0

4

11

Russia

0

2

4

12

Denmark

0

1

3

13

Canada

0

1

2

13

Austria

0

1

2

15

France

0

1

1

15

Peru

0

1

1

17

Netherlands

0

0

1

17

Israel

0

0

1

17

Brazil

0

0

1

17

Indonesia

0

0

1

17

Ecuador

0

0

1

17

Serbia

0

0

1

17

Great Britain

0

0

1

17

Argentina

0

0

1

17

Finland

0

0

1

Major Events

187


Date

Place

Event

Jan. 16-18

Thessalonik, Greece

2nd Greek Open 2015

Jan. 20-25

Orlando, USA

2015 U.S. Open Taekwondo Championships

Jan. 31-Feb. 1

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Feb. 5-7

Fujairah, UAE

Feb. 10-11

Antalya, Turkey

Feb. 13-15 Feb. 13-15

G

Date

Place

Event

G-1

Aug. 7-16 (TKD: 9)

Nottingham, Great Britain

2015 CPISRA World Games (Para-Taekwondo demonstration event)

N/A

G-2

Aug. 14-16

Moscow, Russia

2015 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 1

G-4

Bosnia Open

G-1

Aug. 23-26

Muju, Korea

2nd WTF World Cadet Taekwondo Championships

N/A

3rd Fujairah Open International Championships

G-1

Aug. 30-Sept. 1

Buenos Aires, Argentina

3rd Argentina Open 2015

G-1

3rd European Taekwondo Club Championships

G-1

Sept. 3-6

TBA, Indonesia

Indonesia Open Taekwondo Championships

G-1

Antalya, Turkey

Turkish Open

G-1

Sept. 3-6

Astana, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Open Championships

G-1

Tehran, Iran

5th Asian Taekwondo Clubs Championships

G-1

Sept. 4-19 (TKD 16-19)

Brazzaville, Congo

11th All-Africa Games

Feb. 13-15

Toronto, Canada

2015 Canada Open

G-1

Sept. 5-6

Warsaw, Poland

Polish Open-Warsaw Cup

G-1

Feb. 13-15

Toronto, Canada

2015 Canada Para-Taekwondo Open

G-1

Sept. 6-7

Ramla, Israel

13th Israel Open Championships

G-1

Feb. 16-18

Tehran, Iran

26th Fajr International Open

G-1

Feb. 21-22

Alexandria, Egypt

1st AFTU Open

G-1

Sept. 8-11

Gyeongju, Korea

1st World Police Taekwondo Championships

N/A

Feb. 27-March 1

Luxor, Egypt

2nd Luxor Open 2015

G-2

Sept. 13-15

Aguascalintes, Mexico

Pan American Open Taekwondo Championships 2015

G-1

March 6-9

Doha, Qatar

1st Qatar International Taekwondo Open

G-1

Sept. 17-21

Moscow, Russia

5th International Russian Open

G-1

March 7-8

Montreux, Switzerland

Swiss Open 2015

G-1

Sept. 17

Samsun, Turkey

6th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships

G-8

March 13-15

Aguascalintes, Mexico

2nd Mexico Open Taekwondo Championships

G-1

March 14-15

Eindhoven, Netherlands

42nd Lotto Dutch Open Taekwondo Championships

G-2

March 25-29

Nalchik, Russia

European Championships Olympic Weight Categories

G-1

April 3-5

Kharkov, Ukraine

Ukraine Open Cup 2015

G-1

April 3-5

Baku, Azerbaijan

Islamic Countries Solidarity Cup International Tournament

G-1

April 11-12

Pontevedra, Spain

Spanish Open

G-1

April 11-14

Taipei, Chinese Taipei

8th Asian Junior Taekwondo Championships & 3rd Asian Junior Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

N/A

April 15-16

Taipei, Chinese Taipei

1st Asian Cadet Taekwondo Championships

N/A

April 17

Taipei, Chinese Taipei

1st Asian Para-Taekwondo Championships

April 17-19

Chisinau, Moldova

Moldova Open 2015

April 20

Chisinau, Moldova

4th European Para-Taekwondo Championships

TBC

TBA, Russia

1st Russia Para-Taekwondo Open

TBC

TBA

4th Pan American Para-Taekwondo Championships

TBC

TBA, Algeria

2015 African Junior Taekwondo Championships

TBC

TBA, Algeria

2015 African Para-Taekwondo Championships

G4/G2

May 12-18

Chelyabinsk, Russia

2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships

G-12

May 29-31

Asuncion, Paraguay

Campeonato Mundial G1 Paraguay Open 2015

G-1

May 30-31

Innsbruck, Austria

Austrian Open 2015

G-1

June 5-7

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

2015 G1 Bolivia Open

G-1

June 5-16

Singapore

28th South East Asian Games

G-1

June 12-28 (TKD: 16-19)

Baku, Azerbaijan

2015 European Games

G-4

TBC

TBA

New Zealand Open 2015

G-1

June 13-14

TBA, Australia

Australian Open 2015

G-2

July 2-5

Strasbourg, France

European Cadet Championships

N/A

July 3-14 (TKD: 7-13)

Gwangju, Korea

2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade

G-2

July 10-26 (TKD:19-22)

Toronto, Canada

Toronto 2015 Pan American Games

G-4

July 4-18 (TKD:14-17)

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

2015 Pacific Games

G-4

July 22-27

Chuncheon, Korea

Chuncheon Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships

G-2

G4/G2 G-1 G4/G2 G-1 G4/G2 N/A

G

Sept. TBA

Samsun, Turkey

2015 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 2

G-4

Sept. 20-27

Guayaquil, Ecuador

2015 INAS Global Games (Para-Taekwondo Poomsae for Intellectually Disabled)

N/A

Sept. 26-Oct. 2 (TKD:1-2)

Sochi, Russia

2015 IWAS World Games (Para-Taekwondo)

G-2

Oct. 2-10 (TKD 8-10)

Mungyeong, Korea

6th CISM World Military Games

G-2

TBC

TBA, Chile

1st Chile Open

G-1

Oct. 10-11

Belgrade, Serbia

Galeb Belgrade Trophy - Sebia Open 2015 G-1

G-1

Oct. 15-17

Manchester, Great Britain

2015 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 3

G-4

TBC

Riga, Latvia

European Junior Taekwondo Championships

N/A

Nov. 7-8

Zagreb, Croatia

21st Zagreb Croatia Open

G-1

TBD

TBD

10th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

N/A

Nov. 18-20

Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand International Taekwondo Championships 2015

G-1

Nov. 27-28

Paris, France

11th Tournoi International de Paris

G-1

TBD

TBA

Brazil Open 2015

G-1

Dec. 4-5

Mexico City, Mexico

2015 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final

G-8

Dec. 7-8

Mexico City, Mexico

2015 WTF World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships

G-2

The 2015 Events Calendar is subject to change. Please check the updated WTF events calendar at least once a month at Download Event List Section on: http://www.worldtaekwondofederation.net/events-and-competitions


102

2015 ISSN 1599-3779

Publisher / Dr. Chungwon Choue, President Editor-in Chief / Magazine Director / Seok-Jae Kang, PR Deputy Secretary General Editors / Andrew Salmon, Olof Hansson, Corbin Min, Eil-Chul Kim Contributing Photographers / Denis Sekretev, Seuk-Je Lee, Jin-Ho Lee Designed by / DN (d-n@daum.net)

The WTF is delighted to bring you the official publication of the federation. The WTF Taekwondo magazine epitomizes out enthusiasm and progressive mindset in leading taekwondo and the WTF in the new century. The WTF 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 this year, interviews with taekwondo stars and useful information on taekwondo.

Š 2015 World Taekwondo Federation This publication and its contents may not be reproduced, even in part, in any form, without the written permission of the WTF.

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2015 taekwondo magazine  

2015 taekwondo magazine  

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