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2017

ISSUE NO.

104

O F F I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E W O R L D TA E K W O N D O F E D E R AT I O N

Full Reports: World Juniors World Poomsae Grand-Prix Final World Teams Gala Awards

Taekwondo Olympians: Ahmad Abughaush Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin Raheleh Asemani Tijana Bogdanovic Jade Jones So-hui Kim Hye-ri Oh Pita Taufatofua

Empowering the Powerless: Taekwondo Cares Program and THF Help Refugees


We are always looking to evolve and improve

is now teaching some 90 Syrian refugee

our sport. Together, we must push forward and

children. Our work was recognized by Peace

realize the immense potential of taekwondo.

and Sport when we were honored with its

We have achieved our vision of making taekwondo "fair and transparent." We must now ensure that the best techniques and best fighters come to the fore. Hence, the WTF's new

generous donation from China’s Huamin Charity Foundation, we will build another taekwondo academy in another refugee camp this year.

mission is to ensure that our sport “dazzles and

As WTF and THF president, I have set the goal

excites.”

of raising USD10 million, and collecting 10

The first step has already been taken. We have made significant adjustments to the WTF competition rules which will be applied from 2017. These rules will ensure more free-flowing, spectacular matches. We will see this on display during the 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Championships, which will take place in Muju, Korea. The 2015 World Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, were our best ever and I am sure Muju will build on

President’s Message

"Federation of the Year" award. And thanks to a

their success. We expect athletes from more than 200 countries, demonstrating the global

million signatures of support for the THF by the end of June. This is a lofty goal, but when it comes to doing good, we must be ambitious. I hope all CUs, MNAs, associations and dojangs will participate in the "THF Challenge," donate and offer their signatures. 2016 was a tremendous year. Everything we achieved by working together. In 2017 there is even more we can accomplish. It is an honor to work with you all, and I wish you good luck and great success in 2017. Yours in taekwondo –

reach of our sport, to compete in Muju. But the WTF is about more than sport. We take our social responsibility seriously and are committed to harnessing the power of

Dear World Taekwondo Family:

spirit, we promised a “Festival of Fight” and we

We begin the New Year with a great deal of

delivered. We made history as Jordan won its

excitement and optimism. Thanks to the work of all of you, last year was not just another great

country’s first ever Olympic gold medal and Iran

year for taekwondo - it was possibly our best

won its first-ever female Olympic medal.

ever.

In 2017 we have a new mission. After the huge

The highlight was obviously the Rio 2016

success of Rio 2016, now is the time to build

Olympic Games. In keeping with Rio’s carnival

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first ever Olympic medal, Côte d’Ivoire won his

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

taekwondo for good. Our charity initiative, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, or THF, and our World Taekwondo Cares Program (WTCP) have been busy. The THF Taekwondo Academy in Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan,

Chungwon Choue President, World Taekwondo Federation and Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation

on this momentum – we cannot be complacent.

President’s Message

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WTF MEMBER NATIONS

208

50

+1

Europe

Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine

50

The “+1” stands for refugees

Europe

Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana,

Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, Surinam, St.Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, U.S.A., Virgin Islands, Venezuela

45

Pan America

51 Africa

Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo, Djibouti, D.R. of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia,

Asia

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

Asia

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

51 Africa

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi,

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43

British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands,

Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Curacao,

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia,

Luxembourg, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,

Member National Associations worldwide, + 1.

Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti,

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic,

Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania,

in 2016. As a result, the WTF family now has 208

Pan America

Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina,

Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland,

Djibouti and French Guiana both joined the WTF

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Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan,

19

Oceania

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Oceania

American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

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

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PART 2

O F F I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E W O R L D TA E K W O N D O F E D E R AT I O N

contents

PART 1

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ISSUE NO.104 |

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President’s Message

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WTF Member Nations

2017

Social Responsibility

2016 Olympic Games 42

Rio 2016: A Carnival of Kicks, A Festival of Fight

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Day 1: Golds Won by Korea and China, but Stars Tumble on Day of Surprise Upsets

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Day 2: Olympic History Written Twice; Golds Won by Great Britain and Jordan

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Day 3: Olympic Golds Go to Korea and Cote d’Ivoire on Booming ‘Day of Thunder’

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Day 4: The Titans Clash: Golds Go to China and Azerbaijan

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63 Qualified NOCs for Rio 2016

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Rio 2016 Medal Table

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WTF Demo Team Excites, Electrifies Rio Spectators

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Athlete Interview Ahmad Abughaush: Jordanian Taekwondo Hero Offers His Olympic Gold Medal to King and Country

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Athlete Interview Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin: Kicking Open the Door for Iranian Women

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Athlete Interview Raheleh Asemani: ‘Impossible is Possible:’ Former Refugee Olympian Thanks Belgium, WTF and IOC

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WTF Wins ‘Federation of the Year’ at 2016 Peace and Sport Awards

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Taekwondo Wows UN Staff

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Taekwondo Plants Feet on Holy Ground

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WTF Demonstration Team Performs, Teaches at Refugee Camp in Italy

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Taekwondo Inspires in Italian Earthquake Zone

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WTF-THF Taekwondo Academy for Refugees in Jordan Gets Royal Nod

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Empowering the Powerless in Jordan’s Azraq Refugee Camp

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World Taekwondo Family Urged: ‘Break Boards! Change Lives!’ Global Fundraising Campaign Kicks off to Assist Refugees

Athlete Interview Tijana Bogdanovic: Serbian Schoolgirl Wins Silver Medal

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Athlete Interview Jade Jones: ‘The Chosen One?’

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‘Taekwondo is not a Federation, it’s a Family:’ WTF and THF Sign Cooperative Agreements with Burnaby and Rwanda

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Athlete Interview So-hui Kim: From Poor Health to Olympic Triumph

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Athlete Interview Hye-ri Oh: Tragedy, Agony, Indifference and Olympic Gold

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WTF Chief Asks China Charity Fair Attendees to Join Hands with THF

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Chinese Charity Pledges USD600,000 to Set up Refugee Taekwondo Academies

Athlete Interview Pita Taufatofua: Tonga’s Gift to Taekwondo Vows to Give Back

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Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation Established in Lausanne, Switzerland

Para Athlete Interview Mahdi Pourrahnama: For World Champion, Olympic Sidelines Prove Bittersweet

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WTF, THF and Peace and Sport Sign Partnership Agreement

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Special Visit: IOC President Bach Views Taekwondo, Meets Stars on Day 1

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Paris, THF, French Taekwondo Agree to Assist Refugees in ‘City of Light’

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Rio in Review #1: Heroes and Heroines, History and Highlights

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WTF Appoints THF Athlete Ambassadors

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Rio in Review #2: Pros and Cons

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Fighters for Peace: Grand-Prix Champs Hold up White Cards

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‘A Dizzying Spectacle:’ Global Media on Rio Taekwondo

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400 Million TV Viewers in 17 Key Markets Worldwide Tune into Rio 2016 Taekwondo

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Taekwondo's Newest Stars Honored at ANOC Awards 2016

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Best of the Best 130

The Pipeline is Gushing! 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships

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Medal Table: 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships

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Stars of Tomorrow Mobina Nejad Katesari

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Stars of Tomorrow Skylar Park

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Stars of Tomorrow Napaporn Charanawat

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Stars of Tomorrow Jae-hee Mok

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Around the WTF

PART 4 206

Sir Philip Craven Awarded Honorary 10th-Dan Black Belt

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Game Changers 1: Taekwondo was ‘Fair and Transparent’ in Rio; in Tokyo, Taekwondo Must ‘Dazzle and Excite’

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Game Changers 2: Post-Rio, WTF Brain Trust Huddles to Ensure Sport ‘Dazzles and Excites’ in Tokyo 2020

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Game Changers 3: Rule Changes Approved to Ensure Taekwondo ‘Dazzles and Excites’ in Tokyo 2020

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‘3 Events, 2 Cities, 1 Vision:’ GB to Host 2019 Worlds, Plus GPs

Stars of Tomorrow Hakan Recber

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WTF Pow Wows, Votes on Agenda at 27th General Assembly in Canada

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Poetry of Motion, Art of Combat: 10th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

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‘Pee is Golden!’ Juniors Learn During Anti-Doping Campaign

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Athlete Interview Sylvie Rouquie: The Path to Machu Picchu: From Injury to Adventure

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‘Educating Ourselves as a Community:’ Coach-Referee Training Camp for Rio

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Athlete Interview Yu-ha Kim: ‘The Mollusc’ Captures Gold, Delights Dad

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‘2016 Taekwondo World Peace Festival’ Rocks Heart of Seoul

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Coach Interview Tadjou Attada: African Hopes, African Dreams

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Athlete Interview Adalis Munoz: Dreaming of an Olympic Poomsae Routine

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Coach Interview Faris Al-Assaf: Gold-Standard Coaching: Living the Dream

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Hurricane-Force Action in the Final Fights of 2016: WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final

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Coach Interview Dragan Jovic: Small Fist, Big Punch

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Athlete Interview Charlie Maddock: Team GB’s ‘Pocket Rocket’ Strikes Gold

Interview Myriam Baverel: Coaching Beyond Gender, Coaching Beyond Sport

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Referee Interview Elva Pai Adams: Taekwondo, 360 Degrees

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Athlete Interview Sajjad Mardani: Handsome Victory in Baku Buries Ugly Disaster in Rio

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‘Booyoung Taekwondo Dream Program’ Brings Disadvantaged Rio Hopefuls to Korea

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Battle Royale in Baku: 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Team Championships

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Booyoung Scholarships Awarded to 7 Nations

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3rd WTF Gala Awards

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Jordanian History-Maker Ahmad Abughaush's Dreams Come True with Help from Booyoung

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Rejuvenated WTF Athletes Committee Offers Players Voice in Game's Future

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WTF Central Training Center Opens at Taekwondowon, Muju

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‘Beacon of Aspiration:’ National Taekwondo Center Opens in Manchester, GB

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MNA Focus Argentina Benchmarks Football to Upgrade Taekwondo's Appeal

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MNA Focus New French Taekwondo President Leads Change from Grass Roots to Elite

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MNA Focus Karma and Kids in ‘Thaikwondo’

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MNA Focus Taekwondo: The Ultimate Product?

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WTF Launches Mobile App to Keep Global Fanbase Up-to-Date on WTF News

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Bringing Taekwondo to your Telephone: Mobile Game Developer Teams up with WTF

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Messages from the Continental Unions

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Michael Fysentzidis Elected as New President of International Olympic Academy

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WTF Event Calendar 2017

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Social Responsibility

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can have in post-conflict areas and how it can promote peace, tolerance and understanding," he added. "Taekwondo has always been more than a sport; it is a philosophy which helps teach those who practice it the skills required to become global citizens.”

Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

WTF Wins ‘Federation of the Year’ at 2016 Peace and Sport Awards In a sign that the WTF’s humanitarian initiatives are winning recognition, the federation has won one of the most prestigious awards in the field On Nov. 24, 2016 in Monaco, the World Taekwondo Federation was honored with ‘Federation of the Year’ at the Peace and Sport Awards 2016 for its World Taekwondo Cares Program which has made a valuable contribution to the development of social integration and peace through sport. “It is a real honor to receive the Federation 12

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of the Year award at the Peace and Sport Awards 2016," said WTF and THF President Chungwon Choue. "In line with Olympic Agenda 2020 and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the WTF is committed to fulfilling its social responsibility and maximizing the potential of sport to promote peace and social

cohesion, and we are greatly honored to have our efforts recognized with this prestigious award." The World Taekwondo Cares Program was created earlier this year as part of the 2016 WTF Development Program. The program aims to help promote taekwondo among the WTF’s 208 Member National

Associations, prioritizing the development of grassroots programs, including those involving social minorities or refugees, rather than elite programs.

benefit from the physical, mental and social benefits of participating in taekwondo.

The World Taekwondo Cares Program has been working closely with the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF).

"Taekwondo is a universal sport which can be practiced anywhere by anyone and so brings people of different cultures and social backgrounds together through a shared love of the sport," Choue said.

The two bodies are ensuring that refugees and displaced persons have access to taekwondo coaching and are able to

“The World Taekwondo Cares Program and THF have worked together to show firsthand just what a positive impact taekwondo

Ahead of the Peace and Sport Awards, during the Peace and Sport Forum, a taekwondo demonstration team showcased both kyorugi and poomsae to show the power of taekwondo to promote peaceful dialogue and good relations. The taekwondo athletes performed a number of different routines to the delight of an audience made up of athletes, sports administrators, diplomats and politicians from the different participating countries. The purpose of the demonstration was to show how sport goes beyond competition and can act as a vehicle for positive change. Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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part by using taekwondo to promote fitness and personal fulfillment to those living in refugee camps around the world.” The WTF Demonstration Team showcased a range of taekwondo’s most spectacular, kicks, leaps, spins and breaks. After a performance from some of the world’s top experts, Master Rene Bundeli, a former WTF Council member and former president of the Association Suisse de Taekwondo, taught a series of taekwondo basics to participants, assisted by WTF Demonstration Team members.

“It was a wonderful experience and it is encouraging to hear that taekwondo is contributing to global efforts on behalf of refugees and displaced persons,” a UNOG staff member remarked. It is not the first time the WTF Demonstration Team has performed at the United Nations. On Sept. 21, 2015, the team delivered a demonstration at UN Headquarters in New York after staff members were given a basic seminar in the sport. At the event, Choue announced the launch of a new charity arm, the Taekwondo Humanitarian

Foundation. “It was a great honor for our team members to perform for the UN once again, and they were all very enthusiastic about this opportunity,” said Choue. “I hope our demonstration, and Master Bundeli’s seminar, sparked an interest in taekwondo among those present.” After their UNOG appearance, the WTF Demonstration Team performed at the European Taekwondo Championships in Montreux, Switzerland, on May 19.

Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

Taekwondo Wows UN Staff The WTF Demonstration Team showcased a range of taekwondo’s most spectacular moves at the United Nations office in Geneva Staff from the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and members of the international community were given a unique opportunity to witness a gravitydefying performance of top-tier taekwondo and a chance to participate in a “crash 14

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

course” in the martial art on May 18, 2016 at the UNOG in Switzerland. The hour-long event was opened by UNOG Director General Michael Møller, who was awarded an honorary black belt by World Taekwondo Federation President

Chungwon Choue. “Sports can play an important role in our collective efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, our collective roadmap for action,” stated Møller. “The World Taekwondo Federation is doing its Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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The event was attended by three of the heaviest hitters on the global scene: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, IOC President Thomas Bach, and of course the host of the event – Pope Francis himself.

of the THF, Hyeon-wook Kang, a member of the team said: “The THF sends taekwondo instructors to places worldwide, such as Jordan, where refugees are located, and Nepal after the earthquake."

At the opening ceremony of the event, the WTF Demonstration Team performed their trademark high-flying routine at the Paul VI Audience Hall of the Vatican. It was viewed by the Pope, Ban and Bach.

He continued: "Through taekwondo, people get not only physical benefits, but also learn good manners, self-control and perseverance. All those values are the core of sport and life. However, the most valuable aspect of taekwondo is giving a smile to people - especially when it is on a child's face."

Prior to the taekwondo demonstration, in response to a question about the activities

The conference itself was held at the Synod Hall on Oct. 6 and 7. Choue once again suggested creating a ‘‘Sport Peace Corps’’ to fellow sport leaders. He said that they need to look beyond stadia and take sport to those who need it most. At the Working Session of the conference, he urged them to join hands with the THF. The envisioned Sport Peace Corps would take a broad spectrum of Olympic sports to developing nations and refugee camps.

Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

Taekwondo Plants Feet on Taekwondo took a historic step with the WTF Holy Ground Demonstration Team performing and the WTF president speaking at the Vatican in Rome Taekwondo took a historic step on Oct. 5, 2016 with the WTF Demonstration Team performing and the WTF president appearing at one of the most iconic locations on earth: The Vatican in Rome. 16

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Under the theme “Sport at the Service of Humanity,” the 1st Global Conference on Faith & Sport kicked off on Oct. 5 for a three-day run. It was a gathering of global leaders and influencers from the world of

faith, sport, business and other relevant organizations – to discuss, in partnership, the interconnectedness of faith and sport and to explore the scope and limits of the combination. Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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The concept behind the vision is a blend of the existing Taekwondo Peace Corps and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation. The Taekwondo Peace Corps was established in 2008 and has since dispatched around 1,300 instructors to developing nations worldwide.

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Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

WTF Demonstration Team Performs, Teaches at Refugee Camp in Italy Following the Vatican conference, the WTF’s refugee outreach continued on their Italian tour, as they performed and taught at the Croce Rossa Camp in Rome

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The WTF Demonstration Team performed for refugees, mainly from African nations, at the Croce Rossa Refugee Camp in Rome, Italy, on Oct. 7, 2016. Refugees applauded wildly and took photos with the demo team members after the performance. The team also offered the refugees a free taekwondo class. “Many African nations won medals in the recent Rio 2016 Summer Olympics,” said WTF President Chungwon Choue in a short speech of encouragement to the refugees who attended. “Going forward, the WTF aims to provide refugee athletes with the chance to compete in major championships,” he added.

Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

Taekwondo Inspires in Italian Earthquake Zone

The WTF Demonstration Team performed at Amatrice, Italy on Oct. 11, 2016, while federation executives made donations and pledged help in rebuilding infrastructure in the earthquake-ravaged area. The Demo Team performed in front of an audience heavily composed of children from Amatrice, which was badly damaged by earthquake in August, 2016. Walking through the rubble, the team and accompanying executives were able to see, first-hand, the devastation

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caused by the tremors. Following the demonstration, Federazione Italiana Taekwondo President Angelo Cito made a donation to assist with the rebuilding of the local school. WTF President Chungwon Choue also pledged a donation to build a taekwondo gymnasium in the school. Mayor of Amatrice Sergio Pirozzi was reportedly delighted by both the donation and the pledge.

“Taekwondo Cares” program from its Seoul headquarters; the program funds a range of charitable activities, including assisting refugees and orphans. A related body, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, was established in April in the WTF’s Lausanne office, tasked with empowering refugees in camps worldwide by teaching them the sport and martial art of taekwondo.

The WTF is currently running the

Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

WTF-THF Taekwondo Academy for Refugees in Jordan Gets Royal Nod The WTF-THF Taekwondo Academy in Azraq Refugee Camp was honored to welcome a very special guest: A member of the Jordanian royal family

The WTF-THF Taekwondo Academy in the Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan, welcomed a royal visitor when Jordanian Prince Hassan bin Talal paid a visit. On Oct. 5, 2016, the prince inspected the facility, which houses refugees from war-torn Syria, and watched male and female taekwondo students being put through their paces. He was also fully briefed on the programs being taught in the facility by the Jordanian Coach Asef Sabah, and expressed his admiration. 24

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The fully matted academy, which opened in April 2016, is sponsored by the WTF’s Taekwondo Cares program and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation. Approximately 90 students, in male and female classes, are currently studying taekwondo under the guidance of two coaches – one Korean and one Jordanian. Following the gold medal victory of Ahmad Abughaush at the Rio Olympics – the first-ever Olympic medal won by Jordan in any discipline, at any Olympics – the sport’s profile has soared in the country, which is also serving as a home to some 1.2 million Syrian refugees who have escaped the war in their own nation.

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Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

Some taekwondo instructors teach fitness and self-defense in local dojangs. Some teach sportive techniques in schools and universities. And a select few focus on elite competition methods as they coach local, regional or national teams. Jae-hyun Yoo, however, has taken a different path. “In my opinion, the most important element for my students is self-confidence,” said the 26-year-old Korean fourth-dan black belt, who currently teaches at the Azraq Refugee Camp Taekwondo Academy in Jordan, alongside a local Jordanian coach. Yoo’s current mission is not unusual for him: He has consistently been out of the mainstream of taekwondo teaching. A practitioner of the sport since age five, he taught taekwondo in Korea, then volunteered for the WTF’s Taekwondo Peace Corps, which deploys instructors to developing nations worldwide.

Empowering the Powerless in Jordan’s Azraq Refugee Camp Taekwondo Coach Jae-hyun Yoo has taken an unusual career path, traveling the world to bring the sport to some of the world’s most disempowered persons

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‘They have started to have dreams and put an effort into achieving their dreams. Just looking at the changes makes me feel good’

“First of all, my dream was spreading taekwondo across the world,” he said. “Through the Taekwondo Peace Corps, I had the chance to teach kids in Rwanda, and I found those kinds of activities very meaningful.”

turbulent political situation in the Middle East, his first experience of Jordan was “better than my expectations.” Azraq Refugee Camp, however, was less promising. With international agencies established there, “people seemed to be living well,” but when it came to anything more than basic living facilities, “there was nothing,” he said. “When I first met my students, the necessary education was not being provided to them at all.” He and his Jordanian co-instructor began teaching a range of activities under the banner of the taekwondo program. “I wanted to provide various opportunities for them to learn and experience through taekwondo, hoping that through taekwondo they will have hopes and dreams,” he said. “So I made many activities like demonstrations, promotion tests, competitions, marathon races, etc.” The training, Yoo reckons, gives the students a “sense of belonging as a team” as well as such beneficial skills as self-defense. Collateral benefits have also begun to manifest themselves. “They have started

to have dreams and to put an effort into achieving their dreams,” he said. “Just looking at the positive changes that took place in my students, made me feel great.” The two coaches currently teach 90 children (60 boys, 30 girls) in the physical structure funded by the WTCP and THF. Looking forward, Yoo said he would like to expand the academy to accommodate more students in the camp, give the children experience of competition, and help them earn their black belts. Asked how long he plans to stay, he said, “As long as possible!” And when he eventually departs Azraq, he will continue his mission. “I want to teach underprivileged children in other countries, as well,” he said. While teaching children in developing nations and refugee camps is not the conventional career path for a professional taekwondo instructor, for Yoo, the benefits have been received as well as given. “It is not only the students who learned,” he said. “Also, I learned a lot.”

Yoo’s previous experience was just what the WTF’s World Taekwondo Cares Program (WTCP) and the associated Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) were looking for when they were seeking instructors to teach Syrian refugees in Azraq – the THF’s first full-time, permanent program. “When I heard about ongoing distresses among refugees in the region, I was concerned about the refugee children and wanted to provide hopes and vision in their lives through taekwondo,” he said. He applied for the position, was accepted, and was dispatched to Jordan. Although he had been worried about the Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

World Taekwondo Family Urged: ‘Break Boards! Change Lives!’ Global Fundraising Campaign Kicks off to Assist Refugees Taekwondo practitioners and dojangs are invited to assist refugees via the ‘THF Challenge.’ How can you or your club help? Read on...

Goals: 10 Million Signatures! USD10 Million in Donations! Sign up and help...! THF website:

www.thfaid.org

The “Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation Challenge” got off to a flying start at the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships in Burnaby, Canada, raising USD6,545 to empower refugees.

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“This fund-raising campaign offers taekwondo practitioners, dojangs and associations worldwide the chance to do good,” said THF and WTF President Chungwon Choue. “I urge taekwondo practitioners across the world to join the

campaign, break boards and change lives!” The global fund-raising campaign had kicked off at the opening ceremony of the Championships in Burnaby, Canada on

Nov. 16, with both Choue and Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan taking the “THF Challenge” by smashing boards and making donations. Athletes, referees, spectators and even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s bear mascot subsequently lined up at a dedicated booth in the venue of the Bill Copeland Sports Center lobby to take the challenge. And Team New Zealand performed a Hakka – the famed Maori war dance – at the THF booth to show their support and to

raise visibility. By the end of the five-day championships, USD6,545 had been raised and more than 150 persons had participated, posting videos of their efforts on the THF Facebook page. Branded “Break Boards, Change Lives,” the THF Challenge is the first public fundraising campaign run by the THF, and is designed to enable the worldwide taekwondo grassroots to participate in the THF. The THF, a charity initiative of the WTF, has the mission of empowering refugees

and displaced persons by teaching them the sport and martial art of taekwondo. Through taekwondo, young refugees - who often have little to do all day in camps gain physical fitness, self-defence and selfbelief. The THF is currently supporting a taekwondo academy at the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, where some 90 Syrian refugee children practice taekwondo under the direction of two instructors. A second taekwondo academy for refugees is planned in 2017. Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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Part 1 _ Social Responsibility

Take the THF Challenge! Here's How... The THF Challenge is easy to take for individuals or dojangs. All you need is a board (or boards) to break; a video camera or smartphone to film the break(s); a web connection to upload the clip on Facebook; and some money to donate to the THF. (How much anyone donates is up to you, but every little bit helps.)

'Taekwondo is not a Federation, it’s a Family:'

WTF and THF Sign Cooperative Agreements with Burnaby and Rwanda

The process is for the practitioner or dojang to: • Start filming; • Break a board(s); • Pledge a donation; • Challenge another person/party/dojang to take the challenge; • Post the video clip at www.facebook.com/thfaid/ • Donate to the THF via PayPal or bank-to-bank transfer • thfaid.org/campaigns/take-action-now/

Banking information is in the box below. Good luck!

THF - How to Get Involved What is the online petition? The online petition is a campaign the THF runs to gather as many signatures as possible from individuals who believe in the THF’s mission and want to help the THF to convince global decision makers of the importance of sport as an empowerment tool for refugees and displaced persons. To sign our petition, go to www.thfaid.org/support-ourcampaign/, enter your name and email and share it with your friends and family! I want to donate but I do not have a credit card… You may transfer any amount you wish to donate directly to our bank account. Please contact the THF by email to inform us about your donation and share any comment on how you wish your donation to be used (you may wish to allocate it to a specific project).

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Here are our banking details: Account Information: CHF: CH54 0076 7000 L538 3175 2 EUR: CH28 0076 7000 A538 3175 3 USD: CH89 0076 7000 C538 3175 4 Holder: Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation Bank Information: Name: BCV Address : 1001 Lausanne, Switzerland Clearing number: 767 BIC/SWIFT: BCVLCH2LXXX You will also find cash donation boxes at most WTFpromoted or sanctioned events. Check out the calendar at: www.wtf.org THF website is: www.thfaid.org

On the sidelines of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships, the WTF and its associated charity foundation, the THF, signed agreements to undertake humanitarian activities with the Canadian City of Burnaby and with the Rwanda Taekwondo Federation. On Nov. 16 2016, the THF signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the City of Burnaby to advance the city and the foundation’s shared goals, and to create a legacy for the championships the Canadian city is hosting. Those goals include empowering refugees by providing educational opportunities, improving quality of life, and setting refugees on a path to global citizenship. “The City of Burnaby is thrilled to have this unique and humbling opportunity to work with the THF to enhance engagement and support for refugees in the local community and around the world,” said Mayor Derek Corrigan. “And we are extremely honored to be the first city ever to be declared a THF Ambassador City." The MOU was signed by Corrigan and by WTF and THF President Chungwon Choue. Following the signing ceremony, and after the conclusion of the championships'

opening ceremony, Choue and Corrigan both inaugurated the “THF Challenge” – a filmed board break and donation pledge that is the THF’s first international fund-raising campaign. On behalf of the city, and in front of thousands of spectators, Corrigan presented the THF with a donation of CAD5,000. Separately, Choue signed another MOU on Nov. 17 with Rwanda Taekwondo Federation Director Martin Koonce to promote humanitarian initiatives and development. “This is a great opportunity to show the importance of taekwondo, post-genocide,” said Koonce, referencing the mass killings which took place in the country in 1994. “It gives Rwanda the opportunity to take the good news and the tenets of taekwondo to refugees from Congo and Burundi.” There are an estimated 150,000 refugees in Rwanda, largely fleeing from civil strife in neighboring nations. The idea of a THF humanitarian initiative in Rwanda had first been raised by former IOC president and current UN Special Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport Jacques Rogge, Choue said. The MOU calls for the three parties to promote

taekwondo as a vehicle for peace, social development and the integration of vulnerable populations, and to execute humanitarian projects. It also calls for exchanges of knowhow, information and publications, and the organization of joint meetings and workshops. A key component of the programs will be the establishment by the THF of a dedicated taekwondo academy for refugees in Rwanda, expected to take place in 2017. A budget has already been secured for the construction and operation of the Rwandan academy, in the form of a pledge offered to Choue by the China-based Huamin Charity Foundation earlier 2016. (See separate story in this issue.) “Taekwondo is not a federation, it is a family,” Koonce added. “Taekwondo promotes a life of well-being.” Choue agreed, noting that there were already linkages between the WTF and Rwanda: The WTF’s global sponsor, Booyoung Group, has sent 2,000 pianos to Rwanda as part of its corporate social responsibility activities. Choue himself will make a reconnaissance visit to Rwanda, where he will attend the country’s “Gorilla Open” taekwondo tournament in March 2017. Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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WTF Chief Asks China Charity Fair Attendees to Join Hands with THF

Chinese Charity Pledges USD600,000 to Set up Refugee Taekwondo Academies

etiquette. “Taekwondo demands courage, offers discipline and delivers self-defense and self-belief,” he said. “These are critical gifts for refugees who may suffer from low self-esteem.”

WTF President Chungwon Choue implored philanthropists, businesspersons and officials from China and around the world to join hands with the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, or THF, at the China Charity Fair 2016, held at Shenzhen’s Convention and Exhibition Center in China on Sept. 23, 2016. The annual fair is the only national-level, comprehensive charity event in the world’s second-largest economy. It opened with a video message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Choue was the only figure from the sports world invited to the event. He delivered a presentation under the topic, “Empowering the World’s Most Powerless Children.” After telling attendees about the establishment of the THF, he detailed prior THF programs among earthquake victims in Nepal and existing programs in Syrian 32

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refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan. He also revealed that future programs are planned for Rwanda, Ethiopia and Colombia. Given that taekwondo is one of the world’s most economical and democratic sports, it is ideally suited for refugee camps, Choue explained. “It requires no playing field and no equipment – just the human body!” he said. “It is cost-effective, easy to deploy and not difficult to learn.” However, he acknowledged that some may view taekwondo as a way of violence, rather than of peace. “If you have seen taekwondo, you may ask yourself: “Can a combat sport contribute to humanitarianism?’” he said. “That is a reasonable question. My answer is: ‘Yes! Paradoxically – it can.’” He detailed the exercise benefits of taekwondo, as well as its teaching of

Moreover, taekwondo is valuable and universal, Choue said. “Taekwondo is empowering – it is a gift that, once given, can never be taken away,” he stressed. “It can be practiced anytime, anywhere, by anyone, and knows no barriers of gender, age, color, or religion.” He also discussed the “edu-tainment” curriculum devised by Catholic University of Leuven academic Luc Reychler for the THF. The materials teach the values of Olympism and global citizenship, and will be taught alongside taekwondo by THF coaches. He ended by asking NGOs and philanthropists to join hands with the THF, thereby giving some hope to some of the world’s least fortunate children. On the sidelines at the fair, WTF President Choue, in his capacity as president of the THF, signed a cooperation agreement with Dr. Dezhi Lu, chairman of the Huamin Charity Foundation. The Huamin chairman agreed to fully support the THF and its humanitarian projects at refugee camps around the world.

China’s Huamin Charity Foundation has committed to donate USD600,000 to the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, or THF, and the WTF, to establish taekwondo academies for refugee children. The money will be used to establish purposebuilt taekwondo facilities over the next three years. The three academies will be run by the WTF and its associated charity initiative, the Switzerland-based THF. Dezhi Lu, chairman of the Beijing-based Huamin Charity Foundation, flew to Seoul to sign the donation contract at the WTF Headquarters with WTF and THF President Chungwon Choue, on Dec. 4, 2016. On Dec. 5, Lu delivered a special lecture at Kyung Hee University's Suwon campus under the title “Donation Culture and Global Coexistence Strategy in the 21st Century.” Lu expressed his pleasure at cooperating with Choue in the charity activities of the THF, saying that his first visit to Korea will be a

good memory. He promised that the Huamin Charity Foundation will continue to cooperate, based on China’s principle of strategic coexistence. “I want to express my deepest gratitude to Chairman Lu, a true philanthropist,” said Choue, who had earler met Lu at the China Charity Fair 2016. “His donation will be well spent, helping to empower some of the most powerless people on earth: refugee children.” The THF, which was established with Choue as its president in April 2016, has the mission of empowering refugee children by teaching them the sport and martial art of taekwondo. As one of the most economical and easily deployed sports on earth – one that requires virtually no equipment - it is ideal for refugees, who often have little or nothing to do all day. “Taekwondo teaches physical fitness, selfdefense, self-confidence and self-belief, and is a gift that, once given, cannot be taken away: It can be practiced by anyone

at any time and any place,” said Choue. “Alongside taekwondo, we also teach classes on Olympism and global citizenship using a bespoke ‘edutainment’ syllabus designed for us by academics at Belgium’s Leuven University.” The WTF and THF are already operating a taekwondo academy in a CARE facility in Azraq Camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan. The Huamin funds will be used to build a purpose-built taekwondo academy in Jordan. Following that, another facility will be built in Rwanda, followed by one more in a location that is, as yet, undecided. “These academies are specifically designed for taekwondo, but our aim is to align with other relevant stakeholders in refugee relief,” said Choue. “If other sport organizations or NGOs need a physical facility in camps, once these taekwondo academies are built, we may be in a position to assist them."

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WTF, THF and Peace and Sport Sign Partnership Agreement

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Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation Established in Lausanne, Switzerland

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The Taekwondo Humanitarian Federation, or THF, was officially established in Lausanne, Switzerland in April 2016 and held its first Board of Trustees meeting in May 2016. It shares office space with the WTF in the Swiss city.

deployable sports – and related educational programs to refugees and displaced persons worldwide. Its operations are designed to be sustainable; aligned with the interests of related stakeholders; and fully transparent.

At its first board meeting, the THF signed two cooperation agreements: one with the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and the other with Seoul-based charitable body, GCS International.

In cooperation with the WTF’s World Taekwondo Cares Program, THF projects are already underway in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey, and among earthquake victims in Nepal.

The THF was the brainchild of WTF executives in 2015, and was announced to the world in a speech at the UN Headquarters in New York in September that year. Its mission is to teach taekwondo – one of the world’s most economical, easily

“I am extremely excited that the THF is taking shape and starting operations," said Chungwon Choue, who heads both the THF and the WTF. "The THF will be a boon for refugees; will give the WTF the opportunity to carry out its social responsibility as

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an international federation; and will offer taekwondo practitioners around the world the opportunity to do good as donors, as fundraisers and as volunteers." One year later, on Jan. 24, 2017, the THF held another board meeting in Lausanne. The board approved MOUs with Burnaby City and Rwanda Taekwondo Federation (see related stories in p.31); a contract with the Huamin Charity Foundation Contract (see related stories in this issue); another contract with Human & Nature; and financial regulations. The board also addressed 2017 goals and action plans, and financial projections for the year.

The World Taekwondo Federation, or WTF, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Federation, or THF, and Peace and Sport have signed an agreement to join forces to promote taekwondo as a tool for social development. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in Monaco by WTF and THF President Chungwon Choue, and by Peace and Sport President Joel Bouzou. It has a duration of five years. It commits all parties to promote peace, social cohesion and coexistence, and to improve living conditions via taekwondo. It also encourages education, training and responsibility among youth through taekwondo practice, and calls for all three parties to cooperate – such as by connecting the WTF and THF with Peace and Sport’s partners and projects worldwide. “This is a great step forward for the humanitarian activities of the WTF and THF,” said Choue. “To work with an

organization that is as respected and well known as Peace and Sport opens a new range of opportunities for taekwondo in its role as a vehicle for good.” The agreement was signed on the same day the WTF was named “Federation of the Year” by Peace and Sport at the conclusion of the three-day Peace and Sport Forum that ran from Nov. 23-25, 2016. The award recognizes the sporting federation that makes an “…outstanding contribution to peace, dialogue and social stability in the world through sport.” The WTF received the award due to the efforts of its in-house charity program, the World Taekwondo Cares Program (WTCP), which promotes the sport in developing countries and among refugees and displaced persons worldwide. The WTCP cooperates closely with the WTF’s independent charity initiative, the THF, which was founded in April of 2016. The WTCP and THF have carried out taekwondo programs in Syrian refugee

camps in Turkey and Jordan, and among persons displaced by earthquake in Nepal. An ongoing program, a taekwondo academy in Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, is being run with two instructors. Taekwondo is one of the most economical and easily deployed sports on earth as it requires minimal equipment – just the human body. As an exercise, it delivers agility, flexibility, balance, strength and stamina. As a discipline, it delivers selfdefense, self-confidence and self-belief. It is a gift that, once given, can never be taken away, as it can be practiced anywhere, at any time, by anyone. A bespoke “edutainment” program for children has also been designed for the THF to teach the values of Olympism and global citizenship alongside taekwondo. In 2017, the WTCP and THF plan to open a full-time, dedicated taekwondo academy for refugees in Rwanda.

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Paris, THF, French Taekwondo Agree to Assist Refugees in ‘City of Light’

On Jan. 27, Choue visited the Humanitarian Aid Center in Paris, where he was welcomed by Jean-Francois Martins, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of Sport and Tourism, the mayor of the 18th District of Paris, and the deputy director of Emmaüs Solidarity. A “Discovery Workshop of Taekwondo” was held at the center, in collaboration with the city of Paris, the French Taekwondo Federation and the THF.

the help of the NGO Médecins du Monde.

nothing to do all day.

The THF, which was established with Choue as its president in April 2016, has the mission of empowering refugee children by teaching them the sport and martial art of taekwondo. As one of the most economical and easily deployed sports on earth – one that requires virtually no equipment – it is ideal for refugees, who often have little or

The WTF and THF are already operating a taekwondo academy in a CARE facility in Jordan's Azraq Camp for Syrian refugees. In addition, taekwondo training programs are being run in Nepal and in Turkey. Following these, further projects will be launched in refugee camps worldwide.

The center was opened on Nov. 10, 2016 in the north of the 18th District. The center is financed by the City of Paris and France. It is operated by 120 professionals who receive special training from the nonprofit organization Emmaüs Solidarité.

The Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF), the City of Paris and the French Taekwondo Federation signed a Common Agreement on Jan. 29, 2017 on the occasion of the 25th World Men’s Handball Championships in Paris, France. The agreement was signed by Mayor 36

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of Paris Anne Hidalgo, WTF and THF President Chungwon Choue and French Taekwondo Federation President Denis Odjo.

empowering refugees and displaced persons through providing opportunities and access to the sport of taekwondo in the local community of Paris, the "City of Light."

Through this agreement, the three parties agreed to work together to further their shared goals and the mission of

In addition, Paris was named as a “THF Ambassador City.”

Since its open, it has welcomed more than 4,500 refugees coming from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and other countries. It can accommodate 400 people for 10 days, before they are offered a solution adapted to their situation. The center offers a dignified, humane shelter, and access to help in processing their asylum applications, as well as food, sports equipment and medical care, with Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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WTF Appoints THF Athlete Ambassadors During the opening ceremony of the European Taekwondo Championships, held on May 19-24, 2016 at Salle Omnisports du Pierrier in Montreaux, Switzerland, a number of athletes were honored with appointments as WTF and Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) Ambassadors. Two-time European Champion Aaron Cook of Moldova; Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones of Great Britain; and former-refugee Raheleh Asemani of Belgium were appointed as THF Athlete Ambassadors. These ambassadors will be working together with the THF and WTF to give dreams and hopes to the young refugees through taekwondo. Lisa Lents, a former Miss Denmark, and a former European Championships gold medalist, qualified WTF International Referee and former National Coach of Iceland was appointed as a WTF Goodwill Ambassador.

ETU President Athanasios Pragalos, Ms. Lisa Lents, WTF President Chungwon Choue

Fighters for Peace: Grand-Prix Champs Hold up White Cards

She will be promoting the value of taekwondo to young women leaders.

They may be fighters, but taekwondo champions made a powerful gesture of support for the “Peace Through Sport” movement at the conclusion of the 2016 World Grand-Prix Final in Baku, Azerbaijan.

WTF President Chungwon Choue awards THF Athlete Ambassador appointment plaque to Aaron Cook

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WTF President Chungwon Choue awards THF Athlete Ambassador appointment plaque to Jade Jones

WTF President Chungwon Choue awards THF Athlete Ambassador appointment plaque to Raheleh Asemani

The two-day event in the Azeri capital ended with all medalists holding up white cards on the winners’ podium. The white card is a symbolic gesture of commitment to peace efforts worldwide, and displays support for the International Day of Sport for

Development and Peace. The “White Cards for Peace” initiative is run by the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation’s partner, Peace and Sport. It started in 2014 as an interactive social media campaign to raise awareness for sporting activities as a means to promote peace and development around the world. “The THF and WTF are dedicated to supporting this important initiative,” said Chungwon Choue, the president of both the

THF and the WTF. “By mobilizing around the ‘Peace Through Sport’ movement, the global taekwondo family shows its commitment to doing good through the sport they love.” Convinced that sport is a barrier-breaking tool to foster inclusion, respect and world citizenship, the WTF and THF have, since 2015, been developing and operating programs to empower refugees and displaced persons worldwide through the sport and martial art of taekwondo. Part 1 | Social Responsibility

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PART 2

2016 Olympic Games

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Rio 2016: A Carnival of Kicks, A Festival of Fight

From Aug. 17-20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, taekwondo made its fifth consecutive appearance at the Summer Olympic Games. Taekwondo had been a demonstration sport in Seoul in 1988 and in Barcelona in 1992, and first became an official program event in Sydney in 2000. The sport had then featured at Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008, and London in 2012, with the latter being seen as taekwondo’s “gold standard” Olympic appearance. In Rio 2016, on the mats of Carioca Arena 3, a combat-sports specialized venue in the city’s buzzing Barra Olympic Park, 128 taekwondo athletes from 63 countries, fighting in eight weight categories – four male (-58kg, -68kg, -80kg, +80kg) and four female (-49kg, -57kg, -67kg, +67kg) – would do battle for the world’s most hotly contested sporting medals. Their matches would be officiated by a 30-strong team of referees boasting a 50:50 gender split: 15 male, 15 female. There would be a number of firsts for taekwondo in Rio. The nations of Aruba, Belarus, Cape Verde, DR. Congo, Moldova, Mongolia and Tonga all made their taekwondo Olympic appearances debuts in Rio. In terms of the game itself, Olympic firsts included: octagonal mats, to promote more footwork; head PSS, to upgrade fairness and transparency; and added points for spinning kicks to the body, to promote spectacular techniques. And in another first, athletes were allowed to wear uniform pants emblazoned with their national colors, if they wished. In a pre-event press conference, WTF President Chungwon Choue speaking with reference to Rio’s famous carnival spirit – had vowed to “rock Rio with a festival of fight.” It was a bold promise – but all the elements were in place. First and foremost, the world’s premier taekwondo fighters were primed for action. To inject aural ambience, rock music would play in the gaps between bouts. And the WTF Demonstration Team, which had previously wowed audiences in London 2012, had an extended role, filling in down time and entertaining the audience before the evening semis and finals. In that role, it was joined by local Brazilian performance troupes. Would the WTF deliver on its promise and deliver a “festival of fight?” Read on – and let the Games begin…

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Olympic Taekwondo

Day 1

Golds Won by Korea and China, but Stars Tumble on Day of Surprise Upsets Pundits around the arena – and the world – were left stunned as some of the sport’s most famed athletes went under, but new stars stepped forth on Day 1 in Rio

On the first day of the Olympic taekwondo competition, gold medals went to Korea and China, silvers to Serbia and Thailand, and bronzes to Azerbaijan, Dominican Republic, Thailand and Korea. In the women -49kg category, So-hui Kim of Korea won gold and Tijana Bogdanovic of 44

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Serbia won silver, while Patimat Abakarova of Azerbaijan and Thailand’s Panipak Wongpattanakit took home bronzes. In the men -58kg category, Shuai Zhao of China won gold and Tawin Hanprab of Thailand won silver, while Luisito Pie of Dominican Republic and Korea’s Tae-hun Kim won bronzes.

With taekwondo’s two lightest weight categories being contested, top stars fell one by one. Pundits around the arena were left stunned as some of the sport’s most famed athletes lost in the first and second rounds. The crowd in Carioca Arena 3 in Rio’s Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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Barra Olympic Park generated an electric atmosphere throughout the day. The most prominent guest was IOC President Thomas Bach, who visited for the finals and was introduced to Chinese star athlete Jingyu Wu.

Women -49kg Category Seventh-seeded So-hui Kim of Korea faced off against eighth-seeded Tijana Bogdanovic of Serbia for the gold. Earlier in the day, the Serbian had stunned the taekwondo world by comprehensively defeating arguably the most dominant fighter in taekwondo, China’s double

Olympic gold medalist Wu, 17-7. Wu had been gunning for what would have been a record third Olympic taekwondo gold. As the final got underway, the Serbian, with her height advantage, forced Kim to dance around the edge of the mats. But it was the Korean who was more accurate with her legs, winning the first round 2-1. The second continued the same, with Kim displaying lively footwork to escape the Serbian’s pressure. Bogdanovic, trying to land a punch, took a crescent kick to the head; the round ended 5-2. In the third, the score was 4-6 to the Korean but Bogdanovic put the pressure on, and Kim

visited the mats repeatedly. In the last 11 seconds, Bogdanovic was chasing her target around the area, but Kim held off the desperate last-minute attack, taking match and gold 7-6. It had been a masterly display of lateral footwork and fighting off the back leg by Kim. After the match she said she had, “prayed to become a champion” and gave thanks to her family and nation for the support she had received. The “lucky yellow” uniform pants Team China had adopted did not seem to be working for superstar Wu: She lost the first repecharge to Patimat Abakarova of

Azerbaijan, 4-3. “I don’t know why!” she replied when asked what was behind her sub-par performance. With plans to have a child next year, Wu's sportive future is uncertain. Asked if she would appear at Tokyo 2020, she said, “Maybe I will go – but maybe not as an athlete.” In the second repechage, Panipak Wongpattanakit of Thailand took on Peru’s Julissa Diez Canseco, winning 4-2. The first bronze match pitted France’s Yasmina Aziez against Azerbaijan’s Abakarova. After a lackluster first round, Abakarova moved up a gear and ended the second 3-1. In the third, Aziez went on the attack, but despite her height advantage, could not find the range and the Azeri extended her lead 6-1, then 7-1. The match ended 7-2 to Abakarova. The second bronze match saw Thailand’s 46

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Panipak Wongpattanakit go into battle against Itzel Manjarrez of Mexico. The contest proved to be a carnival of kicks, the Thai using her height advantage and long legs to assert an early 9-0 lead, but the Mexican returned fire with a round kick to the head for 3 points. In a fierce contest of flying feet, the second finished 11-3 to the Thai. After an action-packed third, the bronze was convincingly won by Wongpattanakit, 15-3.

Men -58kg Category China’s Shuai Zhao, the eighth seed, took on Thailand’s Tawin Hanprab, the 15th seed, for the gold. The match looked uneven from the start, with Zhao towering a full head over the Thai. Zhao landed first, but the Thai, unintimidated, tried to deny the Chinese by closing the distance and

shutting down Zhao’s long-range weapons. Zhao, however, kept both his cool and his distance, even scoring with a nifty jump round kick to the trunk, and finished Round 1, 3-0 up. By the end of the second, it was 4-1 to Zhao. In the third, in a flurry of jumps and kicks, Hanprab scored, bringing the board to 4-5. In the last 35 seconds, both men were showing a tremendous work rate, firing kick for kick, with the much shorter but gutsy Thai even forcing Zhao off the field of play. But in the end, the Chinese kept the advantage, taking gold with a 6-4 win. Delighted, he ended with a lap of honor around the mats, flag aloft. “I felt a bit nervous, but followed my coach’s instructions,” he said. “I feel great!” What he did not know is that Wu had earlier told Chinese reporters, “I hope he gets all my good fortune…I hope he becomes the new leader of Chinese taekwondo.” Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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Predictions for the eventual winners of this category had been comprehensively overturned. In the preliminaries, the first shock result of the tourney came when Iranian superstar Farzan “The Tsunami” Ashourzadeh Fallah – the number one seed and the man pundits saw as almost unbeatable in this category – lost his first match to 16th-seeded Hajjami Omar. The Moroccan came from behind, 1-3, to end the Iranian’s gold medal hopes with a jump spinning round kick in the final seconds to take the match 4-3. Soon after, numbertwo seed Tae-hun Kim of Korea was beaten by 15th-seeded Hanprab, 12-10. The Thai looked almost unbelieving at his victory over the widely fancied Korean. In the first men’s repechage, Spain’s Jesus Tortosa Cabrera defeated Omar Hajjami of Morocco, 4-1. In the second, Korea’s Kim took on Safwan Khalil of Australia, winning 48

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the match 4-0. The first bronze medal match saw Luisito Pie of the Dominican Republic face off against Spain’s Tortosa Cabrera. The Dominican opened the attack, while the Spaniard played a counter-attack game. Round 1 ended 0-0. The second continued with the Dominican dominating the ring and opening the scoring – including with a nicely timed spin back kick, ending the round 5-0. In the third, the Spaniard tried head kicks and punches – then, in the dying seconds, landed a one-point technique and a spectacular spinning heel kick to the head. The match went to golden point. Pie, however, was not to be denied and finished it with a single point – then delighted the crowd by dancing on the field of play with his flag. The second bronze match saw Mexico’s Carlos Navarro Valdez go in against

Korea’s Tae-hun Kim. Both refused to give ground, fighting for the center of the mats and trading kick for kick, but the first round ended scoreless. In the second, Kim scored with a flicking round kick to the head, ending the round 3-0 up. Kim extended his lead with three body kicks in the third, 6-0. As the seconds counted down, Navarro Valdez went for broke, firing volleys of head kicks and back kicks, but Kim took the victory – and the bronze – 7-5, after a very closely contested match. Medals were handed out by IOC Member Nicole Hoevertsz from Aruba – whose country had taken part in the Olympic taekwondo competition for the first time that day, in the person of Monica Pimentel Rodriguez who fought in the Women -49kg. WTF President Chungwon Choue and Oceania Taekwondo Union President John Kotsifas handed out gifts at the ceremony. Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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Olympic Taekwondo

Day 2

Olympic History Written Twice; Golds Won by Great Britain and Jordan

Sportive history was written – twice. Taekwondo delivered Jordan its first-ever Olympic medal, in any sport, at any Olympics, ever. It also gave Iran its first-ever female Olympic medal in any sport

Day 2 of the Olympic taekwondo competition at the Carioca 3 Arena in Rio’s Barra Olympic Park saw two of the most anticipated weight categories contested, with Great Britain and Jordan seizing gold. And sportive history was written – twice. Taekwondo delivered Jordan its first ever Olympic medal, in any sport, at any Olympics, ever. It also gave Iran its first50

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ever female Olympic medal in any sport. In the women -57kg category, gold went to Jade Jones of Great Britain, silver went to Eva Calvo Gomez of Spain and bronzes were won by Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba and Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin. In the men -68kg category, gold went to Ahmad Abughaush of Jordan, silver to Alexey Denisenko of Russia and bronzes to Joel Gonzalez

Bonilla of Spain and Dae-hoon Lee of Korea. The women -57kg category had been dubbed “The Great Rivalry” as it featured one of the great match-ups of the sport – that between number-one seed and defending Olympic champ Jade Jones of Great Britain and number-two seed Eva Calvo Gomez of Spain. As if written in the

stars, both athletes fought through the preliminaries to take their rivalry to the very pinnacle of taekwondo – the final of the Olympic Games. The highly anticipated men -68kg category had been dubbed “Star Wars” for good reason: It contained some of taekwondo’s most famed fighters. There were some upsets, but after the smoke had cleared

it was fourth-seeded Alexey Denisenko of Russia, the bronze medalist in London 2012, who faced off against Jordan’s Abughaush. While Denisenko is highly experienced and was widely seen as a medal prospect, pre-Rio, Abughaush was an astonishing surprise: The 10th seed had earlier blazed his way through the division in a series of scorching fights, showcasing

a spectacular, unorthodox and entertaining style of taekwondo.

Women -57kg Category This was it. The category final was the match everyone had wanted to see: Number-one seed Jade "The Headhunter" Jones and defending Olympic champion of Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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Great Britain versus number-two seed Eva Calvo Gomez of Spain. These two know each other’s game inside out. Combat started with the two fighting for the center of the mat, Jones looking more aggressive and stabbing at the taller Spaniard with her jackhammer side kick. The Briton scored first with a head kick for a three-point lead then, seconds later, doubled that. The Spanish coach called a video replay –the points stood. Calvo Gomez started the second round at a furious pace, taking two points with body kicks, but Jones fired back and took another point, 7-2. The Spaniard grabbed one more point, then she rocked Jones with a head kick, taking the board to 6-7. In the third, both fighters racked up points but with Jones always ahead. The Welsh warrior scored another head kick, widening her lead to 11 points, then 15 to Calvo Gomez’s 7 points. There was drama when Jones appeared to land to the face – but the video replay jury ruled that it had not. Even so, she continued to extend her lead to the closing buzzer, 52

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winning decisively with a score of 16-7. With a second Olympic gold, Jones, clearly delighted ran off the mats and dragged her coach, Paul Green up to the pitch. She then ran a lap of honor around the arena, with British and Welsh flags streaming behind her. “I know I am the best, but in taekwondo, anything can happen,” Jones said, referring to the upsets in the previous day's competition. “But it is still surreal to win – after London, it was not a fluke!” She noted that the journey to Rio 2016 was harder than to London in 2012 as “I was just a little kid” in 2012. Asked her future plans – where does one go after winning two Olympic golds? – she responded that she needs a break, but added, “I am only 23 – and taekwondo is my life.” In the first repechage contest, Raheleh Asemani of Belgium seeded ninth, defeated16th seed Naima Bakkal of Morocco, 12-0. In the second repechage, Iran’s Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin of Iran

defeated Phannapa Harnsujin of Thailand, 14-10. The first bronze-medal match pitted Belgium’s Asemani against Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba. Asemani’s road to Rio had been longer and harder than most: She departed her native Iran and sought asylum in Belgium, which granted her citizenship. The two fighters proved very, very closely matched and despite a high work rate, all three rounds ended with the scoreboard empty. Wahba finally ended it with a round kick to the body, then celebrated with a cartwheel on the field of play. The second bronze match saw Iran’s Alizadeh Zenoorin take on Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic. The Iranian asserted her dominance early and extended it with a head kick that drew roars from the crowd. The Swede, despite firing off countless kicks, was unable to find the range and Alizadeh Zenoorin – accompanied by a closing-second countdown from the crowd – won a rather one-sided contest. She fell Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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to the floor and kissed the field of play, then embraced her coach and posed for photos with the crowd. A historic win.

Men -68kg Category Russia’s Denisenko, the category’s fourth seed, is one of the smartest, best prepared fighters in taekwondo: He has an extensive arsenal and the ability to dismantle his opponent’s game. The unheralded Abughaush, seeded tenth, had delighted the crowd all day with his speedy footwork, punch-kick combinations and flamboyant flying kicks. It would be a battle of contrasting styles. The match started fast with Abughaush exploding across the mats in a flurry of 54

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spinning kicks while Denisenko defended cannily. Both fighters then settled down and the first round ended scoreless. In Round 2 the Jordanian opened the scoring with a one-point lead. Denisenko turned up the pressure, trying to force him off the mats. Abughaush’s footwork came into play, and he escaped by virtually running around Denisenko. The Russian tried an aerial attack of his own, a jump side kick, but did not follow through. The round ended 1-0 to Abughaush. In the third, stabbing forward, the Jordanian added another point and the Russian returned fire with a serial onetwo round kick to the body, scoring his first point. A side kick as Denisenko feinted forward took the Jordanian’s score to 3-1. An impossible jumping round kick that is surely in no taekwondo textbook – fired by

Abughaush while he was retreating from a charging Denisenko – took the board up to 7-2, then 10-2. With 32 second left, Denisenko went into all-out attack, trying to force his opponent off the mats, but the Jordanian was un-fazed by this blitzkrieg – even when Denisenko upped the ante with his own flying kick. Abughaush was briefly forced right off the mats, but ended it 10-6 – a historic win. As he hugged his coach on the field of play, the Jordanian delegation went ballistic. “It was unbelievable to win the first medal in the history of Jordan,” Abughaush, who had to delay the press conference to take a call from the royal family, said. “It was great to hear the national anthem of Jordan in front of the whole world.”

Asked about his unorthodox style, he said, “I had a plan for each game, but certain kicks were improvised – they came out in the moment!” In the first men’s repechage, Servet “The Cheetah” Tazegul – the London 2012 Olympic champion and number five seed, was defeated by13th seed Edgar Contreras of Venezuela in golden point after a 4-4 tie. In the second men’s repechage, Korea’s second-seeded Dae-hoon Lee defeated Egypt’s Ahmed Ghofran, the seventh seed, 14-6. The first bronze medal match saw sixth seed Joel Gonzalez Bonilla of Spain take on Venezuela’s Contreras. The Spaniard, like Tazegul, has previously won gold in London 2012 (albeit in a lower weight

class). Round 1 ended with no score. Gonzalez Bonilla drew first blood in the second – but Contreras equalized almost immediately. Things heated up in the third after the Spaniard landed a round kick to the Venezuelan’s head. Contreras returned fire with a body kick taking it 4-2, then 4-3, but Gonzalez Bonilla held out and took the bronze, 4-3. The second bronze match was a scorcher: it saw top-seed Jaouad Achab of Belgium take on Dae-hoon Lee of Korea, the number two seed. Achab looked the more dangerous from the start, firing a triple round-kick combo, and ringing up a threepoint lead on the board with a round kick to Lee’s head. In the second, Lee returned fire with an out-of-nowhere head kick of his own, then drew ahead with a body kick,

4-3, before Achab equalized 4-4. There was everything to fight for in the third. Both players shook hands, then – game on! The Belgian took a 5-4 lead; action intensified as Lee went on the attack. As the match counted down, the Korean landed an ax kick to go 7-5 up – then another head kick for 10-5. Achab want all out with a flurry of kicks, but despite forcing Lee off the mats, and calling a video-replay request with just four seconds left on the clock, it was Lee who won the bronze, 11-7. Still, it had been a match that can only enhance the reputation of both fighters. Medals were handed out by IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., and Aicha Garad Ali, IOC member and WTF Council member.

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In the women -67kg category, gold went to Hye-ri Oh of Korea, silver went to Haby Niare of France and bronzes were won by Ruth Marie Christelle Gbagbi of Cote d’Ivoire and Nur Tatar of Turkey. In the men -80kg category, gold was seized by Cheick Sallah Junior Cisse of Cote d’Ivoire, silver went to Lutalo Muhammad of Great Britain and bronzes were won by Oussama Oueslati of Tunisia and Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan. It was a great day for Korea – which won its second gold of the competition; a great day for African taekwondo – which won three medals; and a great day for taekwondo fans – who were treated to two tremendously dramatic finals.

Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

Olympic Taekwondo

Day 3

Olympic Golds Go to Korea and Cote d’Ivoire on Booming ‘Day of Thunder’ The crowd raised the roof off of Carioca Arena 3 in what was one of the most spectacular days of taekwondo combat ever to grace an Olympic Games Day 3 of the Olympic taekwondo competition at the Carioca Arena 3 in Rio’s Barra Olympic Park saw two more highly anticipated weight categories being contested, with golds going to Korea and Cote d’Ivoire – a historic first-ever Olympic gold for the nation.

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The sonic backdrop for the on-mat battles throughout the day’s fighting had been appropriate: The near-capacity crowd raised the roof of Carioca Arena 3 with the thunderous refrain from White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” and even held up lit cellphones to accompany the tune. Day 3 was not as strewn with historic landmarks as Day 2 and did not see nearly as many shocks as Day 1. Even so, there were upsets. Number-two seed Aaron Cook of Moldova, one of the most crowd-pleasing fighters in taekwondo, was eliminated in his first fight by Liu Wei-ting of Chinese Taipei. And number-one seed Mahdi Khodabakhshi went out in the second round at the feet of Azerbaijan’s Milad Beigi Harchegani. Remarkably, both these premier-grade fighters were defeated on 12-point difference. Even so, it is the finals in both categories that are likely to be talked about for a long time to come.

Women -67kg Category The final saw number one seed Haby “The Abigator” Niare of France face off against sixth-seed Hye-ri Oh of Korea. In the first round, Niare landed her trademark “scorpion kick” – a heel hook kick fired from impossibly close range, requiring great balance and flexibility – to the back of Oh’s

head, for a three-point lead. She extended it in the second, going 4-0 up – then things changed radically. Oh returned fire with a spin back kick, taking the board to 4-3. Then, in a too-quick-to-follow flurry of kicks, the board flashed. Oh went on the attack and started pressuring the taller French fighter backward. In the third, both fighters tried to feint each other out before Niare Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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the Korean said after the match. “But just like any other day, today I tried my best and the result was satisfactory.” In the first repechage, Ruth Marie Christelle Gbagbi of Cote d’Ivoire, seeded ninth, defeated 16th seed Aniya Necol Louissaint of Haiti, 7-2. In the second repechage, third-seeded Chia-chia Chuang of Chinese Taipei beat 11th seed Melissa Pagnotta of Canada, 4-1. The first bronze-medal match pitted 10th seed Farida Azizova of Azerbaijan against Gbagbi. Gbagbi, one of the fiercest fighters in the category, rang the Azeri’s bell with a perfectly timed round kick to the head in Round 1 for a three-point lead, and retained the initiative for the rest of the match, taking a deserved bronze, 7-1. The second bronze match saw fourthseed Nur Tatar of Turkey take on Chuang – both highly experienced competitors. In the first, an exuberant-looking Chuang landed an arcing round kick to Tatar’s head to establish a 3-0 lead; that score was unchanged in the second. But Tatar was not to be counted out. She revived in the third, over-turning the score to 4-3, then 7-3. When it ended, the Turk looked almost unbelieving, kneeling on the field of play as if to give thanks to Providence.

Men -68kg Category

appeared to land another scorpion kick – it registered but was disallowed and a video replay appeal was lost. An ax kick attack bought Niare’s score back up, before Oh added another single point – then the action mingled fast-and-furious with closeand-messy as both athletes went for broke 58

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with the scoreboard flashing the points like a pinball game and the referee working as hard as the fighters. The final result could have gone either way, but it ended with a tight 13-12 victory for Oh. “In some competitions, I came second best and felt like I had let a lot of people down,”

The final saw Cote d’Ivoire’s Cheick Sallah Junior Cisse going into battle against Great Britain’s Lutalo Muhammad – a match that is likely to be talked about for years for its extraordinary ending. The African started with one advantage. Cisse had proven to be the most popular fighter with the Rio crowd, taking up the chant of “Ole, Ole, Ole – Cisse! Cisse!” Even Cote d’Ivorians in the crowd were nonplussed at the thunderous reception their fighter received. A Brazilian media

manager explained: Brazilian crowds had been latching onto names of fighters and creating spontaneous chants. Regardless of how or why it had happened, Cisse looked buoyed by the kind of vocal thunder usually reserved for world-class football matches. And so it began. From the buzzer, it was clear both men had come to fight. Neither player stepped back as they battled for center ring, leading to some messy clashes and clinches. First blood went to Muhammad. His high kicks had proven a deadly weapon in Rio and now he dropped the ax, missed – but without dropping his foot, whipped it back

to a round kick to the face for a threepoint lead. This was technical mastery of the highest level. Round two saw more clinching, with Cisse clawing back a single point. Then, the Cote d’Ivorian scored with a back heel kick fired from low that arced up into the Briton’s trunk protector. The board rang up 4-4. The crowd roared. The tied second meant there was everything to play for in the third. Both men stabbed kicks at each other, the Briton diversifying his attack with punches, but failing to score. Both fighters looked exhausted as the match degenerated into clinch work. But in the last minute, both

men tapped into hidden reserves and revved up for a last effort. Muhammad landed a crescent kick. Cisse’s head protector was sent flying. The hit did not register. A video replay was called. Disallowed. Action restarted. Muhammad added two points, taking the score 6-4. As the seconds counted down, Cisse added another point – but the Briton was backpeddling. Victory, surely, was secure? It looked like it was all over – then it happened. In the very last second Cisse lashed out with a spinning head kick. It impacted. Final score: 8-6, Cisse. The African was exuberant as the crowd Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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let rip. The Briton looked disbelieving, then aghast; his coach looked equally devastated. It had been a brilliant lastsecond play by Cisse, but terribly bad luck for Muhammad, the bronze medalist in London 2012. “I gave it a last kick and did not expect anything from it,” Cisse said, post-match. “I had no expectation of this! When I go home, I will hug my family very tightly.” In the first repechage, the 13th seed, the legendary Steven Lopez of Team USA – a triple Olympic medalist, fighting, at the age of 37, in a record fifth taekwondo Olympic contest – beat 12th seed Hayder Shkara of Australia on superiority in golden point. In the second repechage, 14th seed Piotr Pazinski of Poland defeated sixth seed 60

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Tahir Guelec of Germany in golden point. The first bronze medal match saw Lopez take on Oussama Oueslati of Tunisia, seeded 10th. The American was game and seemed to be landing, but it was the Tunisian who consistently found the range, landing multiple kicks to the American’s head. Lopez unleashed a series of spectacular attacks as the clock counted down, but it ended 14-5, Oueslati. The match may prove to be a landmark moment. With Lopez now just shy of 40, this could be the last time an Olympic crowd sees this tremendous competitor and gentleman of sport do battle. Will taekwondo ever see his like again? The second bronze medal match saw Pazinski take on Milad Beigi Harchegani

of Azerbaijan, the ninth seed. The Azeri is a brilliant prospect, with a relaxed fighting style and gravity-defying legs, and he locked his target radar on early in the match, taking a four-point lead in the first. Looking cool, composed and confident, he extended his lead to 9-0 in the second. In the break, the Pole looked stressed and tired. The Azeri landed yet another ax kick at the start of the round, taking the match on 12-point difference. Definitely a face (and a a pair of feet) to watch in the future. Brimming with moments of both exuberance and dismay, of agony and ecstasy, Day 3 had provided a dramatic – and thunderously noisy – exhibition of sport. It may be looked back upon as one of taekwondo's greatest days ever. Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

Olympic Taekwondo

Women +67 kg Category

Day 4

The Titans Clash: Golds Go to China and to Azerbaijan

The final day of the taekwondo competition at the Rio Olympics saw the sport’s two heaviest weight categories contested for the last two gold medals of 2016

The final saw China’s number-two seed, Shuyin Zheng, face off against Mexico’s number-one seed, Maria Del Rosario Espinoza. This would be a battle both of style and physique: The Chinese is more than a head taller than the Mexican, and fights from the center of the mats, flicking out her long legs. The Mexican, on the other hand – the Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medalist – is a fiery competitor, armed with an arsenal of round kicks and close-in spin back kicks and punches. Would Espinoza be able to close the gap, get inside the arc of Zheng’s legs, and land her weapons on target? Or would Zheng keep Espinoza at a distance and pick her off from long range? Round 1 started with Espinoza circling

and trying to feint out Zheng, with the crowd clearly favoring the Mexican. Espinoza darted in for a kick – and the Chinese extended her leg and scored, putting her one up at the end of the first. In the second, this pattern persisted, with Espinoza circling but being unable to cut into Zheng’s perimeter, shut down her legs, close and score. It ended 1-0. In the third, Espinoza finally got in and punched – no score – and Zheng clinched. With the tempo rising, the Chinese raised her score to three, then to four, then to five points. In the last two seconds, Espinoza scored one point – but it ended 5-1 and gold for Zheng. She leapt up and down with excitement then ran a lap of honor trailing the Chinese flag. “I was not nervous,” she said in the post-

match interview. “It was more nervewracking watching my teammates fighting on previous days.” In a remarkable double act, Zheng’s equally tall and leggy boyfriend Shuai Zhao had won gold on Day 1.“We never fight!” she confided. In the first repechage, ninth-seeded Wiam Dislam of Morocco defeated 16th seed Kirstie Elaine Alora of the Philippines by 7-5. In the second repechage, France’s seventh-seeded Gwladys Epangue eliminated Nepal’s 15th seed Nisha Rawal, 4-3. It had been a brave achievement for Rawal – who won a wild card to Rio – to do so well: Epangue’s Olympic ranking is eighth; Rawal’s is 289th. The first bronze-medal match pitted Dislam against Great Britain’s third-seeded Bianca

The fourth and final day of the Olympic taekwondo competition at Carioca Arena 3 in Rio’s Barra Olympic Park saw the male and female heavyweight categories being contested, with golds going to China and Azerbaijan. In the women +67kg category, gold went to Shuyin Zheng of China and silver to Maria Del Rosario Espinoza of Mexico, while bronzes were won by Bianca Walkden of Team GB and Jackie Galloway of Team USA. In the men +80kg category, gold was seized by Radik Isaev of Azerbaijan, silver went to Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga of Niger, and Brazil’s Maicon Siqueira and Korea’s Dong-min Cha took home the bronzes. With today’s results in, the end result of the overall taekwondo competition at Rio 2016 was: Korea in first place with two golds and three bronzes (a remarkable result, with every athlete on the team medaling); China in second place with two golds; and Great Britain in third place, with one gold, one silver and one bronze. 62

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“Queen Bee” Walkden. Round 1 ended scoreless, with the Moroccan looking the livelier. However, in the second, it was Walkden who lit up the board with a round kick to the body – scoreless – that she then pulled up, without placing her foot on the ground, to a round kick to the head for three points. This was crafty, skillful play. She followed that with a torso kick for 4-0. Coming out in the third, Dislam started fast and aggressive, pressuring the Liverpudlian lass back to the edge of the mats – but Walkden fired back and scored with a crescent kick to the head, going up 7-0. Dislam salvaged honor with one point, but it was the “Queen Bee” who captured bronze, 7-1. The second bronze match saw Epangue take on Team USA’s fourth-seeded Jackie Galloway. The French fighter has the more imposing physique, the American a light, livelier style. Round 1 started fast, 64

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with Epangue daring Galloway to close. Galloway obliged – and scored, 1-0. In the second, Epangue, holding center court, continued to goad her opponent to bring it on; the American, wisely, danced around the perimeter, looking for an opportunity. In the third, Galloway added another point as the crowd chanted “Allez, Gwladys.” In the match’s first close-range flurry, Epangue scored her first point. With ten seconds left on the clock, Epangue went on the charge, but to no avail: In ended 2-1, and the Olympic bronze went to the nifty American.

Men +80kg Category The final saw Azerbaijan’s third seed, Radik Isaev, going into battle against Niger’s Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga, the 12th seed. Both these fighters are long, tall and leggy – albeit the African has a slight height advantage. Round 1 started

with both men aiming long-range, probing sidekicks at one another and neither using much footwork. Round 2 continued the same way, punctuated with some scrappy clinching. Issoufou Alfaga appeared to be kicking with more venom, but it was the Azeri who scored first with a head shot for three points – awarded after a video replay. In the third, Isaev landed a second crescent kick to his opponent’s head, raising his score to six. The athlete from Niger managed to claw back one point and in the last 20 seconds, went over to the attack, but his assault was countered by Isaev going to the clinch. The match ended 6-2, Isaev, to muted crowd reaction. “I am still on a cloud, I can’t believe I am Olympic champion!” Isaev said after the dust settled. Asked if he was satisfied with his performance, he said, “I did what my coach told me to do – and I won!”

In the first repechage, fourth-seed Maicon Siqueira of Brazil took out fifth-seed M Bar N Diaye of France, 5-2 to the delight of a partisan and very, very noisy crowd. In the second repechage, Korea’s sixth-seeded Dong-min Cha, the Beijing 2008 gold medalist, routed Kazakhstan’s 14th seeded Ruslan Zhaparov, 15-8. The first bronze medal match saw Siqueira go into combat against Great Britain’s 10th seed Mahama Cho. With a Brazilian in a medal match, the crowd were in thunder mode, stamping and roaring “Bra-zil! Brazil Bra-zil!” Both men are of a similar build and stature and proved well matched in action: Neither scored in the first. In the second, both dueled with sidekicks from side-on stances. Then, Cho landed an arcing, from-nowhere crescent kick to the head but fell, taking the board to 3-1.There were fierce clashes as the Brazilian tried to

drive the Briton off the mats – but no score. The third would be the decider. Siqueira had to go for broke. In a furious flurry, he landed a head kick, going 4-3 up. Cho equalized 4-4 with 50 seconds left, then the Brazilian scored another, 5-4. With seconds to go, Cho launched a last-chance charge, but it ended 5-4 to the hometown boy. Cho looked heartbroken; Siqueira leapt into the stands and was submerged in an ecstatic audience. It had been a bronze medal battle worthy of gold. The second bronze medal match saw veteran Cha take on Uzbekistan’s imposing number-one seed, Dmitriy “Shock Force” Shokin. The fight stared with long-range probing kicks and evasive body moves by both fighters as they sought to find the distance. Round 1 ended with the scoreboard empty. In the second, both men scored on the edge of the mats, tying

at 1-1, then 2-2, before Cha again took the lead, 3-2. In the third, the Uzbek battleship had to attack decisively. His punch took the score to 3-3 with less than a minute on the clock, then Shokin drove Cha to the floor with a round- kick punch combo – but no score. The Uzbek’s final attacks looked and sounded to have landed – the “thwack” of his kicks were clearly audible even from Carioca 3’s higher stands – but did not register on the PSS. So, Olympic bronze would be decided by golden point. A flying attack from Cha was countered by round kicks and punches from Shokin then – suddenly! – it was over: Cha had lit up the board. A disaster for the highly favored Shokin, who left Brazil empty handed, but an incredible career end for the veteran Korean, who had announced that Rio would be his last competition.

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63 Qualified NOCs for Rio 2016 Qualified by WTF Olympic Ranking

Asia (13 NOCs) NATION

Iran

MEN

WOMEN

-58kg -68kg -80kg +80kg

-49kg -57kg -67kg +67kg

1

1

1

Jordan

1

1

1

TOTAL

1

Aruba

1

4

Brazil

4 1

1

1

1

Kazakhstan 1

Mongolia

1

NATION

1

1

Japan Korea

1

1

1

3

1

1

1

5

1

Colombia Dominican Republic

1

Honduras Mexico

1

1

Panama

3

Peru

3

Puerto Rico

3

USA

1

Chinese Taipei Uzbekistan

1

1

1

1

1

1

-58kg -68kg -80kg +80kg

-49kg -57kg -67kg +67kg

1

Belgium

WOMEN

-58kg -68kg -80kg +80kg

-49kg -57kg -67kg +67kg

1 1

Spain

1

1

1

1

1 1

1

1

France

1

Great Britain

1

Germany

1

Israel

1

1

3

1

1

1

1 1

4

1 1

1

1

1 1

1

1 1

1

1

1

1

Côte d'Ivoire

1

DR. Congo

1

Cape Verde

1

1

Sweden

1 1

1

TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

3

1 1

2

1

2

1

2

-49kg -57kg -67kg +67kg

Russia

Bronze Dae-hoon LEE

Korea

2 1

MEN

WOMEN

-58kg -68kg -80kg +80kg

-49kg -57kg -67kg +67kg

TOTAL

1

1 1

1

1

over 80kg

under 80kg Gold

Cheick Sallah Jr. CISSE

Cote d'Ivoire

Gold

Radik ISAEV

Azerbaijan

Silver

Lutalo MUHAMMAD

Great Britain

Silver

Abdoulrazak ISSOUFOU ALFAGA

Niger

Bronze Oussama OUESLATI

Tunisia

Bronze Maicon SIQUEIRA

Brazil

Bronze Milad BEIGI HARCHEGANI

Azerbaijan

Bronze Dong-min CHA

Korea

Women's Division under 57kg

1

3

1

1

1

1 1 1

Niger

1

1

1

So-hui KIM

Korea

Gold

Jade JONES

Great Britain

Silver

Tijana BOGDANOVIC

Serbia

Silver

Eva CALVO GOMEZ

Spain

Azerbaijan

Bronze Hedaya WAHBA

Egypt

Bronze Kimia ALIZADEH ZENOORIN

Iran

Bronze Patimat ABAKAROVA

Bronze Panipak WONGPATTANAKIT Thailand

1

over 67kg

under 67kg Gold

Hye-ri OH

Korea

Gold

Shuyin ZHENG

China

1

Silver

Haby NIARE

France

Silver

Maria del Rosario ESPINOZA

Mexico

1

Bronze Ruth Marie Christelle GBAGBI

Cote d'Ivoire

Bronze Bianca WALKDEN

Great Britain

Bronze Nur TATAR

Turkey

Bronze Jackie GALLOWAY

United States

3

1

1 1

Gold

1

1 1

3 1

1

Mali

Tunisia

Alexey DENISENKO

under 49kg

Gabon

Senegal

Silver

1 1

1

1

Thailand

4

1

1

Morocco

Tawin HANPRAB

Korea

TOTAL

1

1

Silver

Bronze Tae-hun KIM

4

-58kg -68kg -80kg +80kg

Libya

Jordan

4

1

WOMEN

Egypt

Ahmad ABUGHAUSH

Spain

Africa (12 NOCs) NATION

Gold

Bronze Joel GONZALEZ BONILLA

1

MEN

1

China

Dominican Republic

1

1

Shuai ZHAO

Bronze Luisito PIE

1

1

1

Gold

1

1

1

1

under 68kg

1

1

1

3 1

1

1

under 58kg

2

1

1

Men's Division

1 1

Tonga

Central African Rep.

1

1 1

4

1

1

Papua New Guinea

3

2

1

Serbia

66

1

1

Norway

Turkey

4

1

Netherlands

Russia

1

1

Poland

3

New Zealand

3

1

Moldova

Australia

1

1

NATION

4 1

1

Finland

Portugal

TOTAL

1

Belarus Croatia

1

Oceania (4 NOCs)

MEN

Azerbaijan

1 1

Venezuela

Europe (19 NOCs)

1

Rio 2016 Medal Table

TOTAL

1

Haiti

Philippines 1

WOMEN

Cuba

1

1

MEN

Chile

1

NATION

New Entry in Olympic Taekwondo

Canada

Nepal Thailand

Tripartite

Pan America (15 NOCs)

Cambodia China

Host Country

Qualified by Continental Qualification Tournament

3

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Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

WTF Demo Team Excites,

Electrifies Rio Spectators The Summer Olympics is the greatest show on earth. As part of the 'Festival of Fight' taekwondo had promised for Rio 2016, the federation rolled out its secret weapon: The WTF Demonstration Team

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One advantage taekwondo has over other Olympic international federations is a unique troupe to keep the crowds in their seats between bouts: The WTF Demonstration Team. For Rio, the 22-strong troupe – which included performers from Brazil, Denmark, Mexico and Turkey as well as the team backbone, which consisted of taekwondo majors from Korean universities – presented a program that merged taekwondo with localized elements. The program was performed every day of the four-day taekwondo competition, just prior to the evening semis and finals. The performance began with team members showcasing moves from the native Brazilian martial art of capoeira – supplemented with some trademark taekwondo kicks. The next element was coordinated poomsae, then the pace picked up with some high-kick breaks that drew applause.

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From that point on, the action accelerated into high gear. To the tune of the iconic “Rocky” theme, a faux sparring match was held, followed by a demonstration of gymnastic flips and spin kicks – including the awesome 540-degree jump spinning heel kick. Combat demonstrations – a gang fight, then a battle between armed and unarmed fighters – followed. The pace slowed with a female team poomsae show amid billowing dry ice, and an unusual performance of what can only described as “Broken-hearted Lover's Poomsae.” Yet more kick breaks, power breaks and poomsae were showcased before – in another nod to the host city – the team broke into a samba dance, with the boys attired in white dobok and the girls in red dresses. The grand finale was high breaks featuring flips, somersaults and running flying breaks, performed to roaring applause. The daily performances were a smash hit with the excitable Rio crowd that not only warmed the audience up for the evening semis and finals, but also showcased a range of taekwondo skillsets - poomsae, self-defense, breaks – that are not seen on kyorugi competition mats. Thanks to the Demo Team, the Rio crowd - most of whom were newcomers to taekwondo- got to see not just elite sportive taekwondo but also elite martial art taekwondo. Roll on Tokyo 2020.

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AT H L E T E

interview Ahmad Abughaush

Jordan

‘I plan for each game, but certain kicks were improvised, they just came out in the moment!’

Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

Jordanian Taekwondo Hero Offers His Olympic Gold Medal to King and Country After winning Jordan its first Olympic medal – in any discipline, ever – Ahmad Abughaush may just be the most famous man in his country

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hen he returns home to Jordan after gifting his country with its first gold medal in any Olympic sport, ever, Ahmad Abughaush is going to offer his gold medal to the king – but what he is really looking forward to is dining on his mother’s home cooking. A hero’s welcome awaits the 20-year-old taekwondo star, but – having been away from home for the last two months of Olympic preparation, the shy superstar is keenly anticipating roast lamb served on a bed of rice and dressed with yogurt sauce.

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Jordanian contingent were laughing, wrapping themselves in the national flag – and yes, shedding literal tears of joy.

It will be a well-deserved feast. On the night of Aug, 18, 2016 in Rio’s Carioca 3 Arena, Abughaush wrote Jordanian and Olympic history, giving his nation the first medal it has ever won in any Olympic competition – and it was gold. Cynics doubting the significance of Abughaush’s achievement should have been outside the stadium that night, where the

And it had been no easy achievement. After battling his way through the preliminaries – and delighting the taekwondo cognoscenti with his lively footwork and his jumping, spinning attacks – he faced one of the most intelligent fighters in the sport, Russia’s Alexey Denisenko, who had beaten Abughaush in the 2015 World Taekwondo Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia (where the Jordanian was affected by a knee injury). The Rio final would be a clash not just of athletes, but of styles: The cool, cagey and tactical Russian versus the fiery, risk-

tolerant and flamboyant Jordanian. The match started fast with Abughaush exploding across the mats in a flurry of spinning kicks while Denisenko defended cannily. Then both fighters settled down, and the first round ended with no score. In Round 2 the Jordanian took first blood with a one-point lead, causing Denisenko to turn up the pressure, trying to force the Jordanian off the mats Abughaush’s footwork came into play and he escaped by literally running around Denisenko. The Russian tried an aerial attack of his own, a jump side kick, but did not follow through. The second round ended 1-0 to Abughaush. Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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As the contest moved into its ultimate round, the Jordanian stabbed forward to add another point. The Russian returned fire with a serial one-two round kick to the body, scoring his first point. A side kick, timed as Denisenko feinted forward, raised Abughaush’s score to 3-1, then an amazing aerial round kick – while he was retreating from a charging Denisenko – astonished the crowd: This was a technique that would have looked more at home in a martial arts movie than in Olympic competition. With 32 seconds left, Denisenko surged into the attack, trying to force his rival off the mats but the Jordanian was unfazed by this desperate blitzkrieg, responding with bootwork and kicks. Though briefly driven off the field of play, the Jordanian ended the fight 10-6 – a historic win concluding

Abughaush first started taekwondo aged six, inspired by his elder brother, a practitioner. “I like taekwondo as it has good spirit and discipline and my family is very disciplined,” Abughaush – who lives with his parents, both retired nurses – said. “Taekwondo is like a family and my coach is like my father.” Asked to describe himself as a fighter, he said his best attribute is his heart. “I have not been scared of anything since I was young,” he said. “I like fighting, so I feel my personality fits taekwondo.” As for techniques, he is a fan of jumping, spinning “old style” taekwondo – citing Turkish star Servet Tazegul as an influence – rather than the more tactical “new style.” “I make a mix between the old style and new style,” he said, adding that he starts off with “new style” to amass points, then unleashes his preferred “old style” to entertain the crowd. “I plan for each game, but certain kicks were improvised, they just came out in the moment!” he admitted of his gold-medal match.

‘When the king called me, it was like a dream’ an action-packed match. Abughaush ended by hugging his coach on the field of play as Jordanians in the crowd went ballistic. His coach fell forward, kissing the mats and bowing to the audience. “It was great to hear the national anthem of Jordan in front of the whole world,” he said of the medal ceremony.

‘I like fighting, so I feel my personality fits taekwondo’

His post-match press interviews were interrupted by telephone calls from Jordan’s royal family, congratulating him on his achievement. “When the king called me, it was like a dream,” he said. Asked what the message had been from the head of state he confided, “He said, ‘You put the face of Jordan on the map, all Jordanians are very happy about this result – God helped us to get this.'” Abughaush also heard from mom and dad. “My parents were crying about this result,” he said. They were not the only ones. According to Deputy Mayor of Amman Hazem AA Naimat, “Everybody in Jordan, from the royal family down, were in tears. Nobody in Jordan slept last night!"

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At home, he enjoys Playstation and football (he supports Barcelona and has been nicknamed “The Jordanian Taekwondo Messi” by his local fans). Still, he remains grounded. “He is a very down-toearth guy,” said his team’s communications manager, David Williams. “Yesterday, when everyone was emotional after he had made it to the finals, he was the one who stayed focused.” The day after, reality was beginning to sink in: Abughaush told Williams that the endless round of media interviews were actually tougher than his fights. As for future plans, he will return to university – he took a break to prep for Rio – where he studies sport science. But he is not finished with taekwondo – he plans to compete in Tokyo 2020 to prove that his Rio win was about skill, not luck. In the more immediate future, he looks forward to getting home where he will be greeted by a nation that is delirious with his success. But after the hero’s welcome is over, he looks forward to closing his front door and attending to some roast lamb.

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AT H L E T E

interview Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin

Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

Kicking Open the Door for Iranian Women ‘There is no restriction for female activities in [Iranian] sport and I hope from now on there will be lots of medals to follow’ In Rio, an 18-year-old wrote history for Iranian sport. Here is how she did it

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t was on Day 2 of the Olympic taekwondo competition at Carioca Arena 3 in Rio’s Barra Olympic Park that history was written. The final buzzer rang on the bronze medal match in the women’s -57kg category and an 18-year-old athlete from Karaj, Iran, had done something that had never been done before: Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin was the first female Iranian athlete to win an Olympic medal – not just in taekwondo, but in any discipline. Taking on Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic, the Iranian asserted her dominance early and extended it with a head kick that drew roars from the crowd. The Swede, despite firing off countless kicks, was unable to find the range and Alizadeh Zenoorin – after a final-seconds countdown from the crowd – won with rare conviction. She ended it by falling forward and kissing the field of play, then embracing her coach and taking photos with the crowd. “I am very pleased to get this first medal – very pleased! – and very pleased for the girls of Iran,” said Alizadeh Zenoorin, speaking one day after her fight. “I had tears in my eyes from joy, but I also had a little thought: ‘I would love this to have been gold!’” Even so, the color of her medal is overshadowed by the enormity of her achievement. “When I came here I wanted to break this enclosure, open the door, help other female athletes and also create a kind of self-confidence for people to go out there and do it,” she said.

In that sense, Rio is definitely “mission accomplished.” On the personal front, Alizadeh Zenoorin’s bronze medal victory is going to be life-changing event, for she embodies the sportive empowerment of Iranian women. “Obviously, now my life is going to change in that I have to be a role model,” she mused. “It will be hard for me and my social life will change, but I hope to be a good representative and a good person in society for people to follow.” Her country has fully recognized the significance of what has happened. Iranian media are full of her pictures; her photo portrait has been emblazoned across a giant poster decorating a central Tehran overpass; actors and celebrities are lining up to congratulate her when she lands; there are even clips up on social media of energized and inspired Iranian grandmothers performing zany taekwondo moves.

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“Surely all the public in Iran are very pleased and happy to see my achievement,” she said. “There is no restriction for female activities in [Iranian] sport and I hope from now on there will be lots of medals to follow.” Her coach, Mahroo Komrani Najafabadi, reckons her protégé has kicked down the last barrier for female sport in Iran. “I want everybody to know that in Iran we all love and enjoy sport the same way men do. It is the same for women and men,” she said. “The only difference between the rest of the world and Iran is that the boys train with male instructors, and the girls train with female instructors.” Alizadeh Zenoorin’s unexpected triumph – she was the Olympic 10th seed and her world ranking is 21st in a tough category that includes such high-profile stars as Team GB’s Jade Jones, Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez and Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba – may mitigate the disaster that befell the Iranian men. Iran is a taekwondo superpower and the team it fielded in Rio was best-of-breed. But from Day 1, it all fell apart. Farzan “The Tsunami” Ashourzadeh Fallah, the number-one

good role model,” she said. At home, she is a student who, between classes and taekwondo sessions, enjoys hiking and climbing. In the future, she plans to finish her university degree in physiotherapy, become a physio, and teach taekwondo. But given that she is aged just 18, there is more immediate business awaiting her on competition mats worldwide.

‘I thank God for this opportunity and I hope to be a good role model’

“She is very clever, she has a lot of patience and she is also, in my opinion, one of the best players in the world in taekwondo,” said her coach. “Kimia has beaten [London and Rio gold medalist] Jade Jones twice.” (Indeed: On the sidelines of the competition mats, one noted taekwondo pundit opined that it was fortunate for Great Britain that the team’s superstar was not drawn against Alizadeh Zenoorin in the preliminaries.) “I would love to have faced [Jones] in the finals, I have competed against her four times and beaten her twice,” Alizadeh Zenoorin said. “A lot of people in my weight I have competed against and beaten, I have beaten others before who are here – but unfortunately, I could not do it this time.”

‘When I came here, I wanted to break this enclosure, open the door and help other female athletes’ seed and the favorite to win the men -58kg, went out in his very first match. Mahdi “The Terminator” Khodabakhshi was the number-one seed and the favorite to win the men -80kg: He went out in his second match. Sajjad Mardani, the number-two seed and a strong medal possibility in the men +80kg also went down in his second fight. These results indicate that the rest of the world has finally worked out how to beat the Iranian powerhouses. Those matches must have been hard for Alizadeh Zenoorin to watch. And her own preparation for Rio was agonizing. “Obviously, it was hard to come here and I had a lot of stress,” she said. “I lost 10 kilos to be ready for this competition!” (Given that Alizadeh Zenoorin fights in the -57kg category, the extreme nature of that weight loss may be appreciated.) Still, the reward has been worthwhile. ”I worked hard to get a medal. I thank God for this opportunity and I hope to be a

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She cites Iranian taekwondo legend Hadi Saei, Team Korea bronze medalist Dae-hoon Lee and Team China double Olympic gold medalist Jingyu Wu as her inspirations in the sport. With her height – she is a good head taller than Jones – and her weaponry – her round kick to the body is a consistent scoring technique – she has all the right physical qualities to win more medals. Her immediate goal is 2017's World Championships in Muju, Korea. “Nobody from Iran has taken gold at the World Taekwondo Championships in the females so I would like to go there and win that medal, too,” she said. And in four years – aged just 22 – it will be Tokyo 2020. “When I arrive in Iran, I want to rest to heal my injuries, then work hard to change the color of the medal I have now,” she said.

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AT H L E T E

interview Raheleh Asemani

Belgium

Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

To realize her Olympic dreams, former refugee Raheleh Asemani crossed continents, sought asylum and changed flags

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very Olympic athlete’s road is long and hard - but Raheleh Asemani’s was longer and harder than most. In fact, for a time, it looked as if her Rio dreams would be shattered on the rocks of nationality. The Iranian-born Asemani fled her native land for Europe in 2012. The refugee arrived in Belgium on Christmas Day. It did not take long for the former Iranian international - Asemani had won a silver medal at the Asian Games in 2010, but did not make it to the London Olympics in 2012 – to find her way to the Belgium national taekwondo team, under Coach Karim Dighou and Performance Director Laurence Rase, on Dec. 28, 2012. With financial help from local federations, Asemani was able to re-start competing around Europe.

now, was whether she would fight for Belgium, or for the IOC’s Refugee Team. Her paperwork passed muster, and she was cleared to fight in Rio under the Belgian flag. “I got big help from the IOC and the WTF,” she said. Asemani was ecstatic. “What can be more beautiful than to have a country at the Olympic Games?” she

‘After Rio, I could not accept that I had lost in golden point. Then, my friends supported me, and that was really positive energy’

But like every athlete, her highest dream was the Olympics and Asemani, an asylum seeker, was stateless. A ray of hope shone when IOC President Thomas Bach announced the formation of a refugee team for Rio. That gave Asemani – then working as a postwoman in Belgium, while training part time – a last-chance opportunity to fight in Rio. “I was really happy as taekwondo is my life, and this was the one chance,” she said. “After 17 years in taekwondo, it had been really difficult.” On April 13, she was granted Belgian citizenship – but it was still not clear if she would be able to represent Belgium in Rio. At the European Qualification Tournament, Asemani – still fighting under the WTF flag – found herself facing off against Belgian athlete, de facto teammate and close friend Indra Craen. “It was a really emotional game,” Asemani said. She emerged victorious in that match, and ended the European Qualification Tournament with a first-place win in her weight category after defeating Finland’s Suvi Mikkonen. The question

told Agence France Press in an interview. Her new passport meant an additional level of emotional support from her new nation. “I had lived four years in Belgium and been training with the Belgian Team,” she said. “The people of the country supported me and did everything for me and I got support from Karim and everyone. It was really good.” She fully bonded with the team. “It was really good, I had really good friends, we have grown together,” she said. “It is not only sport, it is friendship and everything.” Her special training partner in the lead up to the Olympics was none other than Craen. There were significant differences in the training she went through in Iran and in Belgium. “In Iran, in the National Team, we trained with girls,” she said. “So, when I started in Belgium, it was really difficult to train with Karim and the boys.” The

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famously tough training for Team Iran made her “strong,” Asemani said, but in Belgium she found more leg control and more science in the program. Rio would prove to be a trial by fire. Asemani won her first two matches, then found herself facing 2012 London champion and eventual 2016 Rio gold medalist, Jade Jones of Team GB. The fiery Jones won the match, 7-2. Still, Asemani went through repechage, where she narrowly missed out on a bronze medal against Egypt’s elastic-legged Hedaya Wahba, in golden point. Asemani has mixed feelings about her Olympic result. “First, I had hoped to be in Rio; second, I wanted to do my best, and I think I did it,” she said. But she admits that when she came home, “it was too difficult for me, mentally.” For four months, she stopped taekwondo. “After Rio I could not accept that I had lost in golden point,” she said. “Then I started my job in the post office - and I have really good friends in the post office - and they supported me and they said, ‘You must go one more time; you can do it; you are the best!’ and that was really positive energy for me." She returned to training and is now back on Team Belgium – this time, as a full-time athlete, training both mornings and afternoons. Currently, her sights are set on the World Championships in Muju, in June 2017. “I want to be in the worlds and I want to win and do my best as I did not fight in 2013 or 2015,” she said. “It will be my first time on the Belgian Team.” How about Tokyo 2020? “I cannot speak about Tokyo, I think I will be too old, I want to see how my body is,” said the 27-year-old. “I want to do taekwondo in my best condition and get the best result.” As for the future, post-Muju, she is mulling a return to study and a possible career in the Belgian police force. As for the past, she has a lot of gratitude. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped me, I am really happy that I have met so many good people, and have good people around me,” she said. “Especially Karim and Laurence and my boss at work - they were all really good for me.”

‘I think anybody can make their dreams. I want to say: Try, always! Impossible is possible’

How about a message for those refugees, displaced persons and asylum seekers worldwide who may consider following in her footsteps? “There are many people with hard life stories, but I think anybody can make their dreams,” she said. “I want to say: ‘Try, always! Impossible is possible.’” © ETU archives

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AT H L E T E

interview Tijana Bogdanovic

Serbia

Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

Serbian Schoolgirl Wins Silver Medal ‘In taekwondo, you have to withstand the pressure in a short period - you have to show yourself!’ A new star is lighting up the taekwondo firmament - at an age when most of her friends are thinking about end-of-term exams

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erbian heroine Tijana Bogdanovic is looking forward to returning home to Belgrade with her Olympic medal around her neck – but will have only have a limited time to enjoy the celebrations before she is summoned away for her next important engagement. “Everybody is extremely happy, they cannot wait for me to come,” she said. “But I will have only about 10 days’ summer break – then I start school on September 1.” Yes, you read that right. The Serbian who captured Olympic silver in a tight, hard-fought bout against Team Korea’s So-hui Kim in Rio de Janeiro is not a pro athlete, working out full-time, day in and day out: She is still a high-school student. Which explains why she wants to extend her thanks not just to her coaching team, but also to her school buddies. “I had great support from my friends and my teachers, they helped me a lot during my period of absence,” she said. “So I can hardly wait to get to Belgrade and say a big ‘Thanks!’” Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the upbeat 18-year-old wunderkind started taekwondo at a very tender age. “When I was four, my parents took me to a taekwondo club and I fell in love with it at first sight – it is very attractive,” Bogdanovic said. “In taekwondo, you have a lot of adrenalin as [the match] only takes six minutes – you have to withstand the pressure in a short period, you have to show yourself.” She did exactly that in Carioca Arena 3 on the first day of the four-day taekwondo competition. Fighting her way through the preliminaries, the number-eight seed shocked the punditry by ejecting the athlete who was widely considered the most dominant fighter in the sport: China’s previously unbeatable Jingyu Wu, a double Olympic medalist and the top seed in the women -49kg category. By the evening, Bogdanovic – whose previous biggest wins

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had been gold at the European Championships and bronze at the World Championships – had battled her way through to the finals. There, she would face off against Team Korea’s So-hui Kim, the seventh seed. From the outset, the Serbian teenager, with her height advantage, fought forward, forcing the Korean to dance around the edge of the mats. But it was the more experienced Kim who was more accurate with her legs, winning the first round 2-1. The second continued the same way, with Kim displaying lively footwork to escape the Serbian’s attack. Bogdanovic, trying to land a punch, took a crescent kick to the head; the round ended 5-2. In the third, the score was 4-6 to the Korean but Bogdanovic applied maximum pressure, and Kim visited the mats repeatedly. In the last 11 seconds, Bogdanovic was virtually chasing her target around the field of play. Kim held off this last-minute charge, taking the match and the gold medal, 7-6 – despite going down in what looked like the final second. Some observers thought that Kim, who had racked up almost the maximum number of penalties for falling, should have been disqualified for her last-second fall – but not her opponent. “I feel a bit sorry that everybody is talking about that last second, as I think that all people are allowed to make mistakes – even if you are a judge,” said Bogdanovic. “It is not something that we should bother about too much.” Just being at the Olympic Games was an awesome Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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experience for a schoolgirl – though at first she was underwhelmed. “Since this is my first Olympic Games, I was not really impressed by the Olympic Village and everything, but as time went by, I was really overwhelmed by the atmosphere in the Serbian Team, exchanging good, positive vibes between the athletes on the team,” she said. “I enjoyed all that experience.”

‘The best place to find me is our taekwondo club – I feel myself there, I feel I belong there’ Of course, the highlight was winning the medal.

‘I feel a bit sorry that everybody is talking about that last second, as I think that all people are allowed to make mistakes’

“It was a great experience in terms of my development because it is not only the day of competition, but all I had gone through before the competition, all the preparation,” she said. “The day of competition is like the top of the cake – when you go to an exam you show what you were working for, so of course, I am happy and proud.” She rates her strengths as a fighter as flexibility and technical skill: her favored technique is that classic of taekwondo, the round kick to the head. In terms of her athletic personality, she is still a little unsure. “In this period of my life, since I am still 18, I am still developing and would describe myself only as ‘well disciplined,’” she said. “I just listen to my coach and try to be the best student.” Like many teens, her future plans are unclear. She has no boyfriend, but is “very interested and motivated to work with kids.” She plans to go to university, but has not yet chosen a major. Naturally, the sport she has been practicing for 14 years will remain central in her life. “The best place to find me is our taekwondo club as I really feel great when I am in training – I feel myself there, I feel I belong there,” she said. “Also, when I have time, I am always with friends from the club.”

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AT H L E T E

interview Jade Jones

Great Britain

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t was the evening of Day 2 of the taekwondo competition of the 2016 Olympic Games, and in Rio’s Carioca Arena 3, the fight that the crowd wanted to see was about to get underway. In the women -57kg category, the number-one seed and London 2012 gold medalist Jade “The Headhunter” Jones of Team GB faced off against number-two seed and arch rival Eva Calvo Gomez of Spain. Since London, the two have been engaged in a seesaw, back-and-forth rivalry. Now, Briton faced Spaniard under the Olympic spotlight for gold. Game on. Combat commenced with the two battling for the center of the mat, Jones looking more aggressive and stabbing at the taller Spaniard with her side kick. Then Jones’ radar-guided front foot flashed up: “The Headhunter” drew first blood with a high kick. Seconds later, she did it again, doubling her lead. Disaster loomed for Calvo Gomez. The Spanish coach demanded a video replay – but Jones’ points stood, 6-0. In the second, Calvo Gomez charged out, fighting at a furious pace and grabbing two points with body kicks. The British girl returned fire, taking her lead to 7-2, but the Spaniard rocked Jones with her own head kick. The board was now 7-6, with Jones – just – ahead. Given the one point differential, there was everything to play for in the third.

she said referring to 2012, when, as an unheralded 19-yearold, she had come from nowhere. The run up to Rio was “a different ball game…I had been undefeated all year, so there was so much pressure, so much expectation.” Victory, she mused, had been almost a relief. “It was still joy - but more like, ‘Thank God!’ Anything else would have been a fail.” Great Britain – the originator of football, rugby, cricket and

‘I have quite an obsessive personality. Anything I do, I don’t do half-heartedly’

Both athletes came out fighting, but Jones’ head kick was doing its wicked work, extending the Briton’s lead to 15-7. Despite a moment of drama – Jones’ coach, Paul Green, appealed a head kick; it was denied – Jones kept her cool and extended her lead.

It ended 16-7: A convincing win, a brilliant performance and a second Olympic gold for the “Welsh Wonder.”

‘The Chosen One?’ She holds two Olympic gold medals, putting her on a level with the greatest taekwondo fighters of all time. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle just beginning, can Jade Jones make it three? 90

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Jones - beyond exultant - ran off the mats and dragged Green up onto the field of play. She then ran a lap of honor around the arena, streaming the British and Welsh flags, to the delight of the roaring crowd - which included 10 of her family members who had flown in from Flint, Wales. “I know I am the best, but in taekwondo, anything can happen!” Jones said, post-match, referring to the upsets in the previous day’s competition, when stars had fallen left, right and center. Looking back on Rio, she is understandably proud. “After London, I did not want to be a ‘one-hit wonder,’”

boxing – has a powerful sporting tradition. Jones’ latest gold – together with the silver won by teammate Lutalo Muhammad and the bronze won by teammate (and roommate) Bianca Walken – has planted taekwondo firmly on the British sporting map. “It is going from strength to strength, the team is getting stronger and stronger, we are becoming a force!” she said. “Taekwondo is one of the main sports we are excelling in; I am proud to come from taekwondo in Britain.” With the country having won hosting rights for the 2019 World Championships, two Grand-Prix and the next Para Taekwondo Championships, Jones will be fighting in front of her home crowd once more. “I will try to be an ambassador and for me it is an amazing opportunity for friends and family to come and watch as usually, taekwondo is in faraway countries so my

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family does not have the chance to come,” she said. “Also, when it is in the UK, people say it is the best atmosphere.” However, 2017 marks a new ruleset coming into taekwondo – and one of those rules is that coaches will no longer be able to appeal head kicks, something Jones and Green have been tremendously successful at. She is unfazed. “I reckon a true champion can change and adapt,” she said. “I still have back kicks and body shots … and the rules will not stop me from going to the head!” As for inspiration, she cites Green and her grandfather. “My granddad took me to taekwondo at age eight, and he literally traveled the world and used his savings to get to the competitions,” she said. “I still ask his advice.” Despite her “English Rose” good looks and jaw-dropping physique, Jones has no boyfriend. “I have not found my man yet,” she giggled. “I am still looking!” She describes herself as “family oriented” and says she likes to “laugh, joke and be a bit silly.” But that is not her taekwondo personality. On the field of play, Jones is aggressive, dangerous, venemous. “I am a bit roughand-tumble the way I have been brought up, I am not scared to go toe-to-toe,” she said. “A lot of girls shy away from that; it is not natural to fight.”

‘The goal is to get three Olympic golds. The biggest legends have not been able to do it, so that shows how much of an ask it is. Could I be the chosen one?’

And she is a hard-core trainer. An acquaintance noted – with awe – that Jones and Green sometimes finish grueling allday national team training sessions, then head out to private dojangs in Manchester for extra evening training. “I have quite an obsessive personality,” Jones confessed. Admitting to being “a bit bonkers” she added, “Anything I do, I don’t do half-heartedly.” This explains her ambition. “The goal is to get three Olympic golds,” she said. “The biggest legends” –Team China’s Jingyu Wu and Team USA’s Steve Lopez – “have not been able to do it, so that shows how much of an ask it is.” She claims to fear nobody on the circuit, but knows that upand-coming fighters will be gunning for her over the next four years. Still, her age is to her advantage. “Being only 23, I don’t think, ‘What else can I do?'” she said."I feel like I can get better." So, London and Rio - and a historic third gold in Tokyo? “Could I be the chosen one?” she wondered aloud. Then her selfbelief kicked in. “I believe I can do it,” she finished.

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AT H L E T E

interview So-hui Kim

Korea

Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

From Poor Health to Olympic Triumph If anyone wanted to see a masterly display of tactical fighting on the retreat - Team Korea's So-hui Kim delivered

‘The back step and footwork was the plan’

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he first gold medal of the Rio 2016 taekwondo competition was won by a young fighter who was far from being a natural athlete: In fact, So-hui Kim’s original aim in learning the sport was to upgrade her then-poor physique. “I took up taekwondo when I was nine as I was very weak and ill – I took it up for my health,” said Kim. “My parents suggested starting it, and now I am all good.” “All good” is an understatement: Kim has today cast off 94

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her weakling status and transformed into an elite athlete competing and winning at the highest level of taekwondo. The 22-year-old, who grew up in the countryside in Chuncheon before migrating to Seoul for high school, captured the ultimate medal in sport at the Carioca Arena 3 in Rio’s Barra Olympic Park, when she won gold in the women -49kg category. But it was no easy match. Kim, the seventh seed in the women -49kg category, would be fighting against eighth-seeded Tijana Bogdanovic of Serbia Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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who had the height (and probably strength) advantage. Earlier in the day, the Serbian had stunned the taekwondo world by comprehensively defeating arguably the most dominant fighter in the sport, China’s double Olympic gold medalist Jingyu Wu, 17-7; Wu had been gunning for what would have been a record third Olympic taekwondo gold. “I was not nervous to face Bogdanovic, I was worried about Wu,” said Kim. “I expected to

fight with Wu at the final, I had prepared a lot for Wu.” The fact that Bogdanovic had ejected Wu made very clear that Kim was facing a well prepared, top-drawer opponent. From the outset, the Serbian, with her height advantage, fought forward, forcing Kim to dance around the edge of the mats. But it was the Korean who was more accurate with her legs, winning the first round 2-1. The second continued the same way, with Kim displaying lively footwork to escape the Serbian’s attack. Bogdanovic, trying to land a punch, took a crescent kick to the head; the round ended 5-2. In the third, the score was 4-6 to the Korean but Bogdanovic put the pressure on, and Kim visited the mats repeatedly. In the last 11 seconds, Bogdanovic was chasing her target around the field of play but Kim held off the desperate last-minute attack, taking match and gold medal, 7-6. After the match she said she had “prayed to become a champion” and gave thanks to her family and nation for the support she had received.

‘I always challenge the next one. I want to go to Tokyo 2020 if possible’

Although it had been a close-run thing – Kim’s fall just as the final buzzer rang could have cost her the match – the fight had gone

‘I like the back kick best of all – it is a special kick and I can fire it from both legs’

according to plan. “The Serbian girl is good at face kicks so I was concerned about that,” Kim said. “I thought that if I could beat her face kick, it would break her mentality. The back step and footwork was the plan.” Oddly, the manner of her victory came in for a fair amount of online criticism in Korea, with some critiquing her style and strategy.

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In fact, Kim’s evasive, counter-attacking game plan showcased true mastery of lateral footwork and fighting off of the back leg – which causes one to question the technical knowledge of her armchair critics.

Expect to see more of Kim in the future: Given her tender age, she has a long fighting career stretching ahead of her. “I always challenge the next one,” she said. “I want to go to Tokyo 2020 if possible.”

Olympic gold is just the latest in the fourth-dan’s list of accomplishments, which include gold at the 2015 GrandPrix Series 1 in Moscow, and gold in the -46kg category at the 2013 World Championships in Puebla, Mexico. As a taekwondo fighter she reels of her list of advantages. “Moving fast, I play a timing game and strike at the right time,” she said. “I like the back kick best of all – it is a special kick and I can fire it from both legs.”

The people who got their formerly sickly daughter into the sport were at ringside for her triumph. “My parents are in Rio, and they were in tears, especially my mom,” she said. But what about her own emotions? How did it feel to capture the ultimate prize? “I’d always dreamt of being an Olympic gold medalist,” she said. “I realized the dream.”

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interview Hye-ri Oh

Korea Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

In one of the most closely-fought bouts of the Rio Olympics, Hye-ri Oh captured gold - a vindication of years of training through injury and indifference

Tragedy, Agony, Indifference and Olympic Gold

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aekwondo prioritizes perseverance and indomitable spirit, but few athletes have had to nurture these qualities more than Team Korea’s Hye-ri Oh: She has overcome personal tragedy, agonizing injury, relentless competition and public disinterest on her path to the pinnacle of taekwondo. The tall, attractive 27-year-old, who hails from Gangneung on Korea’s east coast, “followed her friends from school” to taekwondo classes at age eight. Personal tragedy struck at age 10, when her father passed away: Since then, Oh and her two sisters (Hye-ri is the middle sister) were raised by their mother. Taekwondo, however, remained a constant. Along with the camaraderie she found in the dojang, she discovered a talent and began competing at age 14. She did not consider her skills mature enough for Beijing in 2008, but did set her sights on the next Olympics. However, in the run up to London 2012, tragedy struck again. Given the number of players in Korea, the qualification process is a grueling one, and in pre-training, Oh suffered a deeply torn quad. “My thigh swelled up like a balloon,” she recalled. Even so, she appeared on the mats two weeks after the injury – to no avail. “I had no strength, and I could not get the right angle for the kicks,” she said. “I wanted to go to London, but I couldn’t.” A saying in Korean states, “An Olympic medal is like a gift from god” and that gift seemed a long way off in the summer of 2012 as she watched the competition on TV.

point lead. She extended it in the second, going 4-0 up. But Oh was undaunted, and returned fire with a spin back kick, taking the board to 4-3. Then, in a too-quick-to-follow flurry of kicks, the board flashed. Oh went into the attack and started pressuring the taller French fighter backward. In the third, both fighters tried to feint each other out before Niare appeared to land another scorpion kick – it registered but was disallowed. A video replay appeal failed. An ax kick attack bought Niare’s score back up, before Oh added another single point – then the action mingled fast-and-furious, close-and-messy. Both athletes went for broke with the scoreboard flashing points like a pinball game, and the referee working as hard as the fighters. The final result could have gone either way, but it ended with a very tight 13-12 victory for Oh. She does not remember much about the whirlwind fight that delivered her dream. “I was losing in the first round, but I was not nervous – I was concentrating so much I did not realize the score was that high,” she said. “I don’t remember too much about it.” In a development that is typical of Oh’s up-and-down fortunes, the euphoria of Olympic gold wore off back home. “Koreans did not like the way their athletes fought in Rio,” she said – a reference to the tactical, “new school” approach they have adopted over the more flamboyant “old school” style. “But from the athletes’ perspective, we are fighting to win, we can’t just fight to make the game exciting and lose – it does not make any sense!” The brilliance of her achievement was also over-shadowed by the high expectations Koreans have of their taekwondo fighters. “Koreans say, ‘If you are Korean, you have to get gold as it is our national sport,’ but I wish they would look at us in a kinder way, with warm eyes and a warm heart,” she said. “If we get gold, they say, ‘Well, you should have!’ If we don’t, they say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’”

‘An Olympic medal is like a gift from god’ Fast forward to 2015. The next Olympic cycle was in full swing when Oh, now injury-free, captured gold at the Worlds in Chelyabinsk, Russia. That augured well for Rio. And indeed, pacing onto the mats in Rio’s Carioca Arena 3, she was one step below the summit of the pinnacle of sports: Olympic gold. But to receive that “gift from god” Oh first had to defeat Team France’s formidable Haby “The Abigator” Niare. In the women -67kg category, Niare was the number-one seed, Oh the number six; the Korean was also at a height disadvantage. In the first round, Niare – a fighter with tremendous flexibility – landed her trademark “scorpion kick,” a heel hook kick fired from impossibly close range, to the back of Oh’s head, for a three98

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Moreover, the success of Oh and taekwondo team mate and fellow gold winner So-hui Kim were overshadowed by the achievement of Sang-young Park, who won Korea a gold in fencing. “He became so famous that none of the other athletes could keep up with his popularity,” she said. “Nobody recognizes me.” Remarkably, she has been offered no commercial sponsorships. The post-Rio disappointment may have been blunted by her latest competitive triumph: Gold at the Grand-Prix Final in Baku, Azerbaijan, the last major event on taekwondo’s 2016 fighting calendar. Injury free, she fought a highly professional match Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games

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against veteran Chinese Taipei player Chia-Chia Chuang. Although she characterizes her fighting style as “Shut up and attack!” she took on Chuang with economical motion and sound tactics. The Korean dominated from the start, gliding smoothly in and out, feinting with her arms and taking an early lead. That was soon reversed with Chuang going up 3-1. As usual, Oh showed her quality and in the third, went onto the attack, landing two head shots to go 7-3 up. It ended 8-4 to Oh, indicating that – following her triumph at the 2015 Worlds, the 2016 Olympics and the Grand-Prix Final - she truly is at the top of her game. In person, Oh is more talkative, relaxed and outgoing than some of the other Korean fighters; she displays an easy-going, natural charm. Her nickname hardly suits her athletic prowess, but does match her cheerful personality: “Duck.” (The nickname is a play on her surname and given names.“Oh Hye-ri,” compressed, sounds similar to the Korean word for duck - “ori.”) Despite her charm and elegance, she has no boyfriend but says, vaguely that she would like to marry and have children after retirement. In her everyday life, she relaxes by reading and taking long, midnight walks along the banks of Seoul’s Han River. She is also a beginner in a sport which, perhaps more than any other, exemplifies solitude and freedom: surfing. “Right now, I have to do it with other beginners,“ she said, “But when I get better, I want to do it in places where there are not too many people around.”

‘It is rare for anyone to have a career that she likes, but I love taekwondo. I am lucky’

When travelling to competitions overseas, Oh studies English on the flights, which enables her to communicate with international players – all of whom she is on excellent terms with. (On the way to this interview, she was stopped in the venue by Sweden’s Elin Johansson, who Oh had beaten the previous day, to exchange selfies). She cites Turkey’s Servet “The Cheetah” Tazegul and Korea’s Daehoon Lee as the most inspirational fighters on the circuit. But, in a comment that perhaps reflects her own struggles, Oh says the players she most admires are those from developing nations like Cote d’Ivoire – those who have to endure hardships in training and competing. And while her first reason to take up taekwondo was friendship, the reason she keeps doing it is not for gold-medal glory, but for the joy of the sport. “It is rare for anyone to have a career that she likes, but I love taekwondo,” she said. “I am lucky.”

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AT H L E T E

interview Pita Taufatofua

‘This was 20 years of taekwondo discipline to get me to this point - this was just the tip of the iceberg!’

Tonga

Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

Tonga’s Gift to Taekwondo Vows to Give Back The 'Real Tongan Ninja' became a global sensation overnight when he marched into the opening ceremony topless and coated in coconut oil. But he has brain as well as brawn

© 2016 / International Olympic Committee (IOC) / HUET, John

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e did not win a medal in Rio, but Tongan athlete Pita Nikolas Taufatofua may just be the most famous face – or rather, body – to emerge from the 2016 Olympic Games. When he marched into the stadium as his nation’s standard bearer during the Olympic Opening ceremony, bare-breasted, muscular and glistening, women around the world swooned, men invested in gym memberships and body oil and the Internet went wild - making the Tongan taekwondo fighter the first (and arguably the biggest) viral hit of Rio 2016. What does he make of his overnight success? “It was not overnight!” said the smiling 32-year-old who, though of Tongan birth, lives and works in Brisbane, Australia. “This was 20 years of taekwondo discipline to get me to this point! This point was just the tip of the iceberg!” Even so, the constant stream of media attention has been a surprise.

45 million hits on Google asking “Where is Tonga?” and “What sport does Taufatofua do?” He has since been featured in the Washington Post, TIME magazine, Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal and a host of other media that are usually virgin territory for taekwondo fighters. Some 100 million viewers tuned in during his appearance on “The Today Show,” and George Bush’s daughter was filmed oiling him up. (“Who’s the superpower now?” he jokes.) Finally, his (again, topless) appearance at the Olympic closing ceremony generated a second wave of hysteria. In short, he has been given an opportunity – and it is one that he intends to take full advantage of. “It is important for me to get Tonga out to the world,” he said. “And to get taekwondo out to the world, as well.” In fact, his nickname is “The Real Tongan Ninja.” “There was an old movie called ‘The Tongan Ninja,’” he explained. “So people started to say, ‘We need to call him, 'The Real Tongan Ninja!’”

“We thought, ‘Oh, it will settle down and I will have time to focus on training,’ but it just got bigger!” he said in the athlete warm-up area of Carioca Arena 3. “We have had media from all over the world: From Argentina, Brazil, Korea, China, Australia, America….”

While he is understandably reluctant to discuss any of the commercial sponsorship opportunities that have suddenly become available, he knows that the money could be a game changer for his cash-strapped region. “We have been selffunded for years,” he said. “It has been tough - a very tough time for us.”

Indeed. During and after the opening ceremony, there were

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frequent fixture on the international circuit and world-ranked number three, and Taufatofua, the world ranked number 157, was as wide as the geographical gulf between Iran and the Pacific Island nation: It was only the Tongan’s third fight

he does wind sprints on the incline treadmill: 1015 second sprints, then 30 seconds break. And for flexibility, he stretches twice a day, both the front and rear lines of the body. Where does taekwondo slot into the fitness matrix? “Martial arts is fundamental, it offers a couple of things which normal bodybuilding does not,” he said. “It changes your mind as well as your body; it makes you stronger mentally, then your body follows.”

‘Martial arts is fundamental, it offers a couple of things which normal bodybuilding does not’ in three years. “I have not fought anyone on that level that I can remember; I don’t have world-ranking points as I could not afford to go to Opens or Grand-Prix,” he said. “But I feel I have enough tools if I could grow them. And we have shown the world that Tonga is a small nation, but big-hearted.”

‘We have shown the world that Tonga is a small nation, but big-hearted’

fight pitted him against Iranian top-gun Sajjad Mardani. While the Tongan can claim to be "the body of taekwondo," the devilishly handsome Iranian is "the face of taekwondo." Their war proved one-sided. While Taufatofua was game, and showcased a wide range of techniques, Mardani locked on and delivered a stern lesson, taking the match 16-1.

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“I did not realize how quick his front leg was – I did not think it would reach me, my distance was off,” the Tongan mused, post-fight. “But we fought, we shook hands, we gave the crowd a show and the crowd was happy – at my expense!” He laughed. “That is the taekwondo we have to take to the world!” The experience gulf between Mardani, a

The commercial opportunities which his sudden fame have generated could help transform the underfunded state of Oceania taekwondo – which failed to win any medals in Rio. “We can really bring up the next generation of athletes and get funding for the Pacific, this is a big thing for us,” he said. “We are a small country, but now we have a big voice.” And it is an educated voice – Taufatofua is no muscle head. Professionally, he is a counselor for homeless youth, a job in which his strong Christian faith and his taekwondo training – training he has been engaged in since he was five years old – provide a powerful foundation. “I use the discipline of taekwondo to help people,” he said. “I work full time, I train full time and I study full time!” As the new pin-up boy for taekwondo as a form of physical conditioning, he has strong views on health and fitness, insisting that functional strength is more important than aesthetic looks. His power workout consists of plyometric routines, kettlebell routines, functional weight training and cable/pulley exercises. For cardio,

The chief reason people fail to attain physical fitness, he believes, is an inability to persevere. “People give up way too easily, they look for the quick-and-easy method,” he opined. “The reality is that you have to go through the valley to reach the mountain.” Another problem is the temptations of modern life. “I feel men give up a little bit too early,” he said. “They are at this point where it is 'too hard;' it is easier to eat crap food and drink crap drinks.” The results of “The Real Tongan Ninja’s” dedication are built into the physique he showcased to the world, drenched in baby oil. “Not baby oil!” he corrected. “Coconut oil!” So what made him decide to go at the opening ceremony bare-breasted, instead of in a conventional blazer and slacks? Was it male pride? Or perhaps the egotism of the elite athlete? He turns serious. “As opposed to the Western influence - the blazer - we wanted to go out wearing what our ancestors wore into battle 200 years ago,” he said. Spoken like a warrior. Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games 105


PA R A AT H L E T E

interview Mahdi Pourrahnama

Iran

‘I think our competition was more exciting than some of the Olympic competitors’’

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hen you are an elite, superbly trained taekwondo fighter, it is no easy thing to watch your countrymen and countrywomen march into the arena of the greatest sporting show on earth to do battle for medals – knowing that there are none on offer for you. That was the experience of Iran’s Mahdi Pourrahnama, a world-class taekwondo player and three-time world champion who sat out the entire four-day Olympic taekwondo competition without winning a single point for Iran. Why so? Pourrahnama is not a regular taekwondo fighter: He is a para athlete. A native of Anzali Port in Iran, his disability was congenital: He was born without a right hand. But even at a young age he had a competitive spirit. Naturally, he looked to sport. “My father was a pro boxer and he knew that I had to choose a sport with the feet, so it was between football and taekwondo,” he said. “My father had done a martial art – boxing – and I was not so good at football, so I chose taekwondo.”

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He was born without a right hand, but even at a young age he had a competitive spirit. Taekwondo was the outlet

Pourrahnama started taekwondo at age seven, discovered he had a talent, and persevered. Now aged 21, and both an athlete and a student of psychology, he holds a third-dan black belt. As the current number-one ranked fighter in the K44 classification globally, he was invited to Rio by the WTF to perform a para taekwondo demonstration match against archrival and number-two seed Vitali Nazarenko of Russia. The two para warriors – who, incidentally, are good friends off the mats – delivered an impressive display. After three rounds of

action, the high-scoring bout was won by Pourrahnama, 15-6. But the combat the two fighters had fought so hard in played to a largely empty stadium. “There were not too many people, as it was before the repechage,” Pourrahnama said. “If it had been before the finals, it would have been great!” The Iranian was devastated by the lack of attention – both in Rio and back at home in taekwondo-crazy Iran. “I was so sad: Even in Iran, they did not show it on TV,” he said. “Everybody in Iran – my family and friends and college friends – wanted to watch, but they could not.” It was, he reflected, a missed opportunity. “You know, this competition was so important because it was something like an advertisement for para taekwondo around the world,” he said. ”Unfortunately, the advertisement was not that good.” Even so, the 2016 Olympics was a positive experience. “The Olympics was a good experience for me,” he said. “But I was hoping for more medals!” Indeed, the shock failure of the three Iranian male athletes – all powerful prospects in their respective weight categories – to win medals was the talk of the taekwondo pundits during the games. But there was a consolation: The bronze medal seized by Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin, an earth-shaking victory given that she was the first Iranian female to win any Olympic medal in any discipline, ever. “Now, there are lots of pictures of Kimia in Iranian media, lots of pictures of her up in Tehran,” Pourrahnama said. “Lots of celebrities and actors want to meet her.” Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games 107


‘This competition yesterday was so important because it was something like an advertisement for para taekwondo around the world’ And he takes pride in the skills he and Nazarenko showcased. “Disability versus disability, able versus able,” he mused. “I think our competition was more exciting than some of the Olympic competitors'!“ He is convinced that, in taekwondo at least, para athletes are equal to – if not superior to – to their able-bodied counterparts. “You know, lots of people think para taekwondo is easy, but it is not easy!” he said. “We don’t have head shots, so all the kicks are on the trunk protectors and that makes it more difficult than regular taekwondo.” The good news is he and Nazarenko will not be sitting on the sidelines in 2020. That year, they will likely face each other again, when para taekwondo makes its Paralympic debut in Tokyo. “In four years, lots of things can happen – being tired, being exhausted, being sick of taekwondo, these sorts of things,” he said. “But I am first ranking, and I would like to be in Tokyo.” Tokyo 2020 could prove to be a massive shot in the arm, not just for para taekwondo, but for disabled children, teens and their parents across the world, he hoped. “Lots of kids are born with disabilities and, you know, their fathers and mothers cry after their children are born,” he said. “If they know about this, maybe they can have big hopes: ‘Some time, I can come and play at the Olympic Games.’”

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach joined WTF President Chungwon Choue on Day 1 of the taekwondo competition at Carioca Arena 3 to watch the gold and bronze medal matches of the men -58kg and women -49kg weight categories.

Special Visit

IOC President Bach Views Taekwondo, Meets Stars on Day 1

During the visit, the IOC president, who was joined by IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, was treated to some spectacular matches - and, in fact, stayed longer than he had been scheduled to. He was also introduced to the WTF Demonstration Team, and met Chinese superstar Jingyu Wu, a double Olympic gold medalist. “We were honored to welcome the IOC president to our Olympic competition," said Choue. "Taekwondo has been at every Olympic Games since Sydney 2000 and the Olympic Games are the very pinnacle of our sport." Despite - indeed, perhaps because of - some shock upsets, the day had gone well. "The crowd created a wonderful atmosphere and we are looking forward to three more days of thrilling Olympic competition!� Choue added.

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Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

RIO IN REVIEW #1:

Heroes and Heroines, History and Highlights

women -57kg made her the first Iranian female athlete to win any Olympic medal, of any color, in any sport, ever. “I want to be a role model, I want to open doors,” she told WTF Comms. Already, downtown Tehran is emblazoned with her image.

Historic Moment #3: Cheick Sallah Junior Cisse’s dramatic, last-second 8-6 victory in the men -80kg final gifted the African continent with its first-ever Olympic gold medal in taekwondo. Cisse also gave Cote d’Ivoire its first Olympic gold medal in any discipline, ever.

Historic Moment #4: The WTF Communications Team presents a (mostly unofficial and informal) round up of the taekwondo competition’s thrills and spills at the ‘Greatest Show on Earth:’ The Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Best Ever? With many moments of considerable historical significance for global sport (read on), plenty of startling upsets (read on), reams of positive global media coverage (read on) and no scandals or controversies, Rio can lay claim to being the greatest Olympic taekwondo tournament, ever.

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Historic Moment #1: The medal won by Jordanian Ahmad Abughaush in the men -68kg – in spectacular, high-flying style – was his country’s first Olympic medal in any Olympic discipline in any Olympics, ever. And the icing on the cake? It was gold! Outside the venue, Jordanians

were literally in tears. Jordan’s new national hero told WTF Comms that upon his return home, he would present his medal to his king and country.

Historic Moment #2: The win by Iran’s Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin of a bronze medal in the

Taekwondo was a major boost for African nations at the Rio 2016 Games. Prior to Rio, Africa had only won three Olympic taekwondo medals in total. In Rio, Africans won five. And the silver won by Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga of Niger in the last final of the tourney was only the second medal won by Niger in its Olympic history – the last being in boxing in 1972.

Big Shift #1: In London 2012, Europe dominated the gold medal table with five golds (Great Britain, Italy, Serbia, Spain and Turkey) while Asia won two (China and Korea) and South America won one (Argentina). Now, the pendulum has swung eastward. In Rio 2016, Asia

won five golds (two each for China and Korea, and one for Jordan), Europe won two (Azerbaijan and Great Britain) and Africa one (Cote d’Ivoire).

Big Shift #2: Pre-Rio, the pundits had anticipated victories for China and Great Britain in the women’s division and for Iran and Korea in the men’s division. The pundits were correct for the Chinese (one gold) and British (one gold and one bronze) athletes. They were close to the mark for the Korean (three bronzes) athletes, but totally off-base for the Iranian (no medals, period) men. It was a shock for Team Iran, given that two of their players were top-seeded, and the third was seeded two. Expect a renewed charge from the Iranians at the Grand-Prix Final in Baku, Azerbaijn, in December, and at the World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, Korea in June 2017.

Biggest Personality: Though he did not win a medal in the men +80kg category (he went out in his first fight to Iran’s Sajjad Mardani) Tongan athlete Pita Nikolas Taufatofua became a viral sensation worldwide when he carried in the Tongan flag during the opening ceremony – bare-breasted and oiled up! Women around the world swooned at his buff, shining physique; men around the world bought gym memberships and invested in coconut oil. The Tongan has been inundated with sponsorship offers, and told WTF Comms that this would provide a financial windfall for

cash-strapped Oceania taekwondo.

Boy from Nowhere: Jordanian Ahmad Abughaush. The tenth-seed in the men -68kg was a virtual unknown to the wider taekwondo world, only coming to pundits’ attention during the Asian Continental Qualification Tournament in Manila, Philippines. Now, he has branded his name upon taekwondo history in tremendous style.

Most Dramatic Fighter: He may be quiet and soft-spoken in person, but on the mats, Abughaush was a man transformed: He showcased brilliant footwork, and unleashed an arsenal of flamboyant high and aerial kicks – including a wicked jumping round kick to the head delivered while on the retreat. Somebody please add this kick to taekwondo textbooks.

Most Dramatic Kick: Cheick Sallah Junior’s Cisse’s kick to the head of Team GB’s Lutalo Muhammad in the men -80kg final. With the Cote d’Ivorian behind on points against Muhammad as the last round counted down, that kick was the decider – all the more dramatic for being delivered in the match’s very last second. In taekwondo, as in sprinting, tiny increments of time count. Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games 113


Most Popular Competitor: Cisse again. The Brazilian crowd went crazy over the African hero, who reciprocated after his victory by running round the arena, shaking hands and signing autographs after his last-second triumph.

Biggest Win: Team GB’s Jade Jones’ victory in the women -57kg. Having won her second Olympic gold medal, the Welsh warrior has equaled the feat of China’s Jingyu Wu (women -49kg) and Korea’s Kyungseon Hwang (women -67kg). She told WTF Comms how delighted she was with her win: It proved that her performance on home turf in London 2012 was no fluke.

Biggest Shock: Where to start? There were so many! Probably the biggest was the first-fight ejection of Iran’s Farzan “The Tsunami” Ashourzadeh Fallah (men -58kg) the number-one seed and clear favorite in the category. Almost as shocking were the failures of two other number one seeds – China’s double Olympic gold medalist Jingyu Wu (women -49kg) and Iran’s Mahdi Khodabakhshi (men -80kg) to make it through to the finals.

Luckiest Competitor: Korea’s Dong-min Cha of men +80kg. 114 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Cha, the Beijing 2008 gold medalist, qualified through Olympic ranking when an Uzbek competitor in his category had to drop out (only one athlete from any nation is able to compete in any one category, and the numberone seed was Dmitriy Shokin from Uzbekistan). In Rio, Cha benefitted from the first round when his first opponent was a no-show. And in his bronze-medal match against Shokin, the Uzbek battleship was fighting with a broken hand. Even so, a great performance from the veteran Korean, whose brand of power taekwondo, vast experience and technical nous provided him with a fitting end to his career: He had said, pre-Rio, that this would be his last competition.

Unluckiest Competitor: Moldova’s Aaron Cook of men -80kg. Despite being one of the most crowdpleasing fighters in the sport, he has always been unlucky at the Olympics. He failed to medal in Beijing after a judging call which he disputed; was famously dropped by Team GB British selectors before London; and lost his first fight in Rio on point difference. Heart-breaking.

Luckiest National Team: Korea. The team performed with brilliant consistency, winning two golds in the women’s division, and three bronzes in the men’s division. Every Korean who fought in Rio took home a medal. A monster performance for

the sport’s home country, and a big change from London where Koreans garnered just two medals.

Unluckiest National Team: Belgium. The little country punched well above its weight by qualifying three athletes for Rio – including number-one seed in men -68kg, Jaouad Achab. Despite some great fights – both Achab and Raheleh Asemani (women -57kg) fought through to repechage – Team Belgium left Rio empty handed.

Biggest Relief: Over the 2014 and 2015 fighting seasons, there were fears that the game had degenerated into “foot fencing” using only light, flicky frontleg kicks. There were also fears that athletes would be ultra-cautious in Rio, fighting low-scoring tactical matches. This was the case for some matches – notably the Day 4 finals – but the competition also featured plenty of scorching, high-scoring matches.

Best Technological Development: In Rio, PSS head protectors were used for the first time. While the technology is not yet perfect, there is no question that the PSS, in both head and trunk protectors, has removed much human error and made the game fairer and – for the crowd – more transparent.

Best Quote:

Best Music:

“I did what my coach told me to do and I won!” was the response by Azerbaijan’s Radik Isaev of men +80kg, when reporters asked him, in his postmatch interview, whether he was happy with his performance in a final that some critiqued for lack of action.

Taekwondo had vowed to “Rock Rio” with a “Festival of Fight” and the aural backdrop to the competition was thumping pop and rock. Memorable tunes included Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and the James Bond theme, but the one that the crowd chanted the loudest was the riff from White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” – an appropriate tune for combat competition. It would have been better if it had been “62 Nation Army” – the number of national teams represented in Rio taekwondo.

Best Medal Celebration: There were dances, cartwheels, coach hugs, face-falls and mat kisses, but the best medal celebration was surely that of Brazil’s bronze medalist Maicon Siqueira in the men +80kg. After winning to ecstatic applause, he climbed the barrier, dived into the audience and crowd surfed into the stands.

Best Chant: The most memorable chant of the competition had been the refrain from “Seven Nation Army” – until Cisse appeared. The chant that lifted the roof off the arena was “Ole, ole, ole – Cisse! Cisse!” with a noise more reminiscent of World Cup football than the Olympics. Cote d’Ivorians in the crowd were astonished at the surprise popularity of their fighter; a local explained that Brazilian crowds spontaneously latch onto names and chant them (their familiarity with the athlete in question notwithstanding). Rarely – perhaps never – in taekwondo’s history has there been such thunderous noise or such a rock-stadium ambience in a venue.

Best Bonus: Unlike most sports, taekwondo boasts its own in-house entertainment troupe: The WTF Demonstration Team. Its high-kicking, high-flying brand of showmanship enlivened the Rio downtime put smiles on faces. Take Olympic legend and five-times rowing medalist Sir Steve Redgrave of GB, who visited the venue on Day 4 to watch fellow Brits Bianca Walkden and Mahama Cho in action. Both lost. However, he and his unhappy entourage were later spotted laughing, photographing and applauding the Demo Team show that followed.

Rio Romances: Elite taekwondo is graced with three in-house romances. China’s two gold medalists, Shuai Zhao and Shuyin Zheng, are an item. Team GB bronze medalist Biance Walkden is seeing Moldovan star Aaron Cook. And Team Russia’s silver medalist Alexey Denisenko is dating teammate Anastasiia Baryshnikova. (In fact, the latter couple wedded in December.)

Most Collectable Souvenir: Around the venue, the plastic beer cups were identically branded with the Rio logo – but each cup was also decorated with one sport being contested in Rio. Hence, fans walked around the Olympic parks hefting stacks of plastic beer cups as they completed their collections. WTF President Chungwon Choue was served with a taekwondo cup the evening prior to the competition.

Saddest Farewells? (Or not…) Both Team USA’s Steven Lopez (double Olympic gold medalist and one-time Olympic bronze medalist) and Team China’s Jingyu Wu (double Olympic gold medalist) had sparked fevered speculation: Could they add to their medal hauls in Rio? Alas, both great competitors failed to reach the finals. This suggests that we may have seen the last of them at the Olympic Games. Lopez, at 37 (the oldest competitor in Rio taekwondo) is surely nearing retirement, and Wu has made clear that she wants to have a child. Even so: Neither of these great fighters has announced retirement. Lopez has said he will not do so until his coach (elder brother Jean) suggests it and Wu hinted to WTF Comms that she will be in action in Tokyo 2020. So: We may see these legends one more time... Part 2 | 2016 Olympic Games 115


Part 2 _ 2016 Olympic Games

RIO IN REVIEW #2:

Pros and Cons After Rio 2016, WTF Communications canvased opinions. We had two questions. (1) What were the pros? What did taekwondo do well in Rio 2016? (2) What were the cons? What does taekwondo have to do better in Tokyo 2020? Here is what the global taekwondo family had to say...

Jaouad Achab, Athlete, Belgium Pros: I really liked the organization and the ambience, it was great. I really enjoyed it in Rio! Cons: I thought the PSS was too difficult to score on. Tadjou Attada, Coach, Cote d’Ivoire Pros: I liked Rio because I was in Athens, and in Athens, an African player was KOed. At that time, taekwondo was a roughhouse sport. And in Beijing a Moroccan player was KOed. Today, we have no wounds. Today, taekwondo is about intelligence - this encourages the young children to practice taekwondo to encourage their intellect . Cons: The sensors on the PSS. If the sensors can recognize which part of the foot hits, that would be good. And if we

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can introduce gloves for the punches…. Myriam Baverel, Chairperson, WTF Coaches Committee Pros: One thing which is very important is the universality of our sport. I have done my own analysis of this and I found that, in Rio, in terms of medal distribution, taekwondo came second in terms of universality after athletics! This is the thing we absolutely need to keep. This is what makes us powerful. Cons: We need to optimize the attraction of our sport. If we work on even better technology, we will be able to use all the talents of the athletes in terms of technique. Philippe Bouedo, Chairman, WTF Games Committee

Pros: The success of Rio was due to the selection of the best referees. There was a training camp with Olympic coaches so everybody trusted each other. You win, you lose, it is part of the game. Everybody accepted the decisions. They were fair and transparent. Cons: We saw some exciting games in Rio, but others were not exciting. When two players wanted to fight, but if one player does not want to be active, with current rules, they have some options – like using the front leg to block. The concept of new rules is to cut out the options for players who don’t want to fight. John Cullen, BBC TV Commentator Pros: The tracking camera was fantastic as it showed the distance and the effort

the athletes had to make. It was a really good innovation. It bought people from their living rooms onto the mats. Cons: The PSS needs to be significantly improved to give the athletes a platform to showcase their talents. At the moment it is “tallkwondo” not “taekwondo” - height is not a talent! The system is letting down the talent. Karim Dighou, Coach, Belgium Pros: The presentation! I liked that. The combination of venue design, the PSS scoreboard, the music – all that! Cons: I did not like the new uniforms. We already have different colors on the PSS, and we have a colored floor - then you have another color on the pants! But the idea was good and you had some nice designs – like the GB team with their logo. Anthony Ferguson, WTF Council Member Pros: The officiating was really, really good. Cons: We had some exciting fights, but overall it lacked excitement. We have too many cut kicks. Ahmed Fouly, President, AFTU Pros: Fair play. Did you see a single protest in Rio? No! There were none! Cons: We need more interest for the audience, more interest in the athletes. We need to develop the technique and we need different things – we need a team competition! That is most interesting to watch! Gary Hall, WTF Technical and Development Committee member Pros: I think that at the Olympics the sport presentation was really good: It was very exciting and really created a focus in the arena - a great combat showcase! I am talking about the stage - the open forum of the combat - that has the crowd close to the action. And it was a one-

stage event, while other sports had two or three rings. One stage keeps the focus on the athletes who are performing, Cons: One thing that is an opportunity, is there needs to be a bigger financial investment in the PSS technology. That will give greater accuracy and greater consistency and an absolutely level playing field for all athletes. I am not unhappy with the PSS, but I think it could be improved with the right investment. It is still intermittent. You see some shots go in and you think, “Surely, that should score?” We have to take that out of the game. Jade Jones, Athlete, Great Britain Pros: I think the WTF is getting better at the show aspect and that attracts more people to taekwondo. The fun element is important, I love the music, it creates an atmosphere. Cons: I think the head shots need to be more solid again. Sometimes you score with little flicks, but people want to see the head fly back. Hassan Kamal Mahmoud, Vice Chairman, WTF Medical Committee Pro: The best thing was that we saw a very big drop in the number of injuries compared to London. In London, taekwondo was found to have the highest incidence of injuries among Olympic sports. However in Rio, the incidents dropped markedly. I would guess that now we are one of the lowest. Why so? First, we have had a change in competition rules – we now use head PSS. This means that touch contact, not power kicks, are enough to score. Secondly, taekwondo was never that dangerous a sport - but in the past, the criteria of “injury” was any time there was a stoppage and the doctor was called. Now, the referees do not stop the match and call the doctor unless there is an actual injury, not when someone has just fallen down.

Cons: The tempo in some matches was very low, the players were tactical and over-cautious. But the WTF is working on changing the game and changing the competition rules to make the game more exciting and to ensure the freedom of the players. Song-chul Kim, Referee, Canada Pro: Transparency – everyone can see the scores and what is not scoring, and it is fairer than previous events with head protectors and the instant video replays. There are a lot of things involved – electronics, computers, PSS and more technology - so it gets a little complicated sometimes, though at the end of the day, it is for the better. Cons: People are saying it got a little boring because players and coaches are used to scoring easy points with techniques that are not really taekwondo kicks, but that find a way to score. Sometimes, these techniques do not have impact or power. Maria Merkouri, Referee, Georgia Pro: The organization was very good. Everything was on time! The atmosphere was very good the volunteers were very good. This, I like. Cons: In Rio they forgot to present every referee! Number one is from this country, number two is from this country. We did this in Beijing and London, but not in Rio. Mohammed Shaaban, Vice Chairman, WTF Technical Committee Pros: Fairness. And there was very transparent scoring and results. Cons: We need to make it more appealing to the crowd – with the emphasis on “more.” It exists, but we need to make it better. We need to adapt the PSS to the taekwondo techniques, to the kicks that used to be. The kicking is not the problem. It is the gear.

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‘A Dizzying Spectacle:’

Global Media on Rio Taekwondo

400 Million TV Viewers in 17 Key Markets Worldwide Tune into Rio 2016 Taekwondo

The Olympics is customarily taekwondo’s biggest media opportunity and Rio 2016 was no exception. In the (fortunate) absence of any controversies, the world’s press was free to focus on more positive issues - ranging from the agony and ecstasy of winners and losers, to changes to the game and even the multicultural nature of the sport

Nerve and cobra-like watchfulness are…key prerequisites. In taekwondo the trick is to score via kicks to the trunk of the body or the head, allied to the occasional body punch, and be suitably evasive when required. Matches consist of three rounds of two minutes each…These days, to facilitate better scoring, electronic sensors are embedded into the athlete’s protective head and body armor in addition to special sensing socks. Taekwondo fights are as much about speed, thought and execution as brute strength, and self-control and fighting spirit are also a crucial part of the mix.

The Guardian The change in the scoring system that has increased the points for a head-kick to three – or four for a full spinning kick – has been a boon to players… yet it has also increased the degree of unpredictability involved. A single mistake can be catastrophic. To further increase the appeal to viewers as well as to stay in the good graces of the International Olympic Committee after the 2008 ­Olympics were beset by controversy, the World Taekwondo Federation has introduced electronic scoring, with sensors on players’ head and body guards. It makes for a dizzying spectacle. There are strikes and counter strikes, so much so that ­opponents can appear in perfect unison with each other.

The Daily Telegraph Innovation - and techwondo - were the buzzwords leading into the competition as players competed in striking multi-coloured trousers and on octagonal mats for the first time at an Olympic Games. It ushered in a new age in the sport.

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The Belgian Taekwondo delegation includes a Moroccan immigrant, a Belgian-born athlete with Moroccan roots, and an Iranian refugee. Together, they represent a country riven by a debate over how to better integrate its Muslim minority and to respond to the terrorism fears that are sweeping Europe. “There are many people who criticize, who say, ‘Oh look, he’s a terrorist.’ But we’re athletes. Islam has nothing to do with what’s going on,” said Si Mohamed Ketbi, who qualified in the men’s 58-kilogram division. Taekwondo, the Korean martial art known for its spectacular kicks and feints, is a popular sport in Morocco. That has helped turn Belgium’s large population of Moroccan heritage into a boon for the European country’s Olympic medal hopes.

The Wall Street Journal

The sport's governing body acknowledged further scoring changes might be necessary. “Athletes are at the very heart of the World Taekwondo Federation and so we are always ready to listen to feedback from them on how they think our sport can be improved," said Jung Kook-Hyun, the federation's chairman of the technical committee, in an email. "We are committed to constantly modernizing the sport but we always want to find a balance with honoring our traditions," he said, adding the federation would consider possible reforms after Rio.

The Associated Press

Some 400 million TV viewers in 17 key markets worldwide watched Rio taekwondo, a study has found. The study by Intelligent Research in Sponsoring was commissioned by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). The study analyzed the taekwondo coverage by rightsholding broacasters in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands,

Poland, Russia, South Africa, Korea, Spain, Turkey, UK and the USA. Audience reach was only based on viewers watching for five consecutive minutes or longer. More than 179 hours of taekwondo were broadcast across the 17 markets. The biggest audience was in China with 202.4 million people watching taekwondo. Markets where athletes won medals, such as Brazil, France,

Korea and the UK, all drew over 20 percent of their populations. “Rio was a fantastic Olympic Games for taekwondo and these TV ratings have only reinforced that," said WTF President Chungwon Choue. "The fact that in just 17 countries nearly 400 million people watched taekwondo shows how popular our sport is."

upgrade taekwondo's dazzle and excitement in 2017, there is now room for a second take-off. "Taekwondo is developing rapidly in countries where it was traditionally not that widely practiced. and the performances of athletes at Rio 2016 will only inspire more people to take it up," Choue added.

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Taekwondo’s Newest Stars Honored at ANOC Awards 2016

Thank you, Rio 2016

Newly minted taekwondo heroes Ahmad Abughaush of Jordan and Cheick Sallah Junior Cisse of Cote d’Ivoire were presented with "Breakthrough NOC of Rio 2016" awards at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Awards 2016, on Nov 15. The awards were granted in recognition of outstanding performances which saw them claim their countries’ first ever Olympic medal and first ever gold

medal, respectively. The ANOC Awards 2016 took place at the Qatar National Convention Centre and were attended by representatives from NOCs, International Federations, Organizing Committees and 2024 Candidate Cities. The ceremony commemorated outstanding performances in Rio 2016. “It is an honor to accept the award and a privilege to have taken part in such a wonderful evening," said

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Abughaush. "Becoming Jordan’s first Olympic champion meant so much to me, but it also meant the world to everyone back in my country." "That really hit home when I was welcomed at the airport by a cheering crowd and three royal princes," he added. "I never dreamt that my success would have such a significant effect." “I would like to thank ANOC for rounding off my incredible Rio

2016 journey with this award," said Cisse. "It was an extremely tense -80kg taekwondo final in Brazil, and for most of the match it looked like I was going home with silver. I could hardly believe it when I turned things around in the final second." "Finding out that I had won the first gold for Côte d’Ivoire was an unbelievable feeling and this recognition makes that memory extra-special,” he said.

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2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships

The Pipeline

is Gushing!

Taekwondo's future is in safe hands. The WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships in Burnaby, Canada, showcased the skills of our next generation. And what skills they are...

The opening ceremony of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships, which started its five-day run in Burnaby on Nov. 16, highlighted the diversity of the Canadian west coast city - a suburb of Vancouver - and the World Taekwondo Federation. In accordance with WTF tradition, it began with a parade of the national flags of the 102 countries in attendance. The flags were born by athlete/flag bearers, who passed across the field of play in front of an honor guard of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in full dress uniform. The Canadian national anthem was sung by a choir – then the ceremony proper got underway.

Location: Burnaby, Canada Dates: Nov.16-20, 2016 Attendees: 102 countries, 846 athletes, 458 officials Overall Winners: Korea

Branded “United Cultures of Burnaby” the theme spoke both to the global nature of taekwondo and the multicultural society of the host city, whose residents speak over 100 languages and who hail from nations ranging from “Azerbaijan to Zanzibar.” A native Canadian musical and wolf dance troupe, a Highland pipe and drum troupe and a drum, song and taekwondo troupe performed one after another, followed by another song by the choir. WTF President Chungwon Choue then took the stage. “I am happy to be here in the wonderful city of Burnaby, with its warm welcome,” said Choue. “The junior championships are

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the roadmap to the 2020 Olympic Games: You are the future of taekwondo!” He revealed that he and City of Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan had recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, or THF. The MOU, to assist refugees in Burnaby, will be a legacy project of the championships. Corrigan then spoke. Having inaugurated Canada’s first-ever “Taekwondo Day” he is the holder of an honorary sixth-dan taekwondo black belt. “But I have absolutely no taekwondo skills,” he joked. “So, if anyone picks on me I can only have an honorary fight!” He praised the life-building skills of taekwondo and urged participants to have a wonderful time. Choue then presented Corrigan with a commemorative plaque. The WTF flag was presented on the field of play. Standing beside the flag, US and Canadian players read the Athletes’ Oath, followed by two Canadian referees, who read out the Referees’ Oath. Members of the Burnaby Organizing Committees made a brief presentation then Choue inaugurated the global “Taekwondo

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Humanitarian Foundation Challenge” – a boardbreaking fundraiser dubbed branded, “Break Boards, Change Lives.” Choue smashed a board, pledged a donation and challenged Corrigan. Corrigan won the biggest applause of the evening when he donated CAD5,000 to the THF before breaking a board himself. In turn, he challenged Organizing Committee President Nancy Small, who broke a board – and challenged WTF Council Member Ali Sagirkaya. The burly Turk was offered the thickest board of the evening. He generated huge laughs when – after flamboyantly measuring up against the board for a chopping attack – he smashed it with a butt from his head.

tremendous physical game, but - as they do not know and analyze their opponents as well as the seniors do - they are less tactical and more risk-tolerant on the mats than the current crop of seniors. These factors led to a number of spectacular clashes. "They are good!" enthused WTF Technical Committee Chairman Kook-hyun Jung from the sidelines. "Better than the seniors!" Elite seniors may dispute this. But as these juniors transition up and gain experience, they are not going to be able to rest on their laurels. Read on to see how the next generation shapes up and meet taekwondo's stars of tomorrow.

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Chang using footwork to stay out of trouble. It ended 0-0. In Round 2, Chang raised his game, but it was the Korean who lit up the scoreboard, winning three points with a fast and perfectly aimed combination of 1-2-3 body kicks. The round ended 3-0 to Bae. In the final round, Bae had found the range, going four, then five points up. Chang tried a series of high spinning kicks, but was unable to land. The match ended 5-0 – a very skillful display by the Korean, giving him gold and leaving Chang with the silver. Bronzes were shared by Ayaz Ganbarli of Azerbaijan and Yutthaya Khongkraphan of Thailand. Female -42kg Mobina Nejad Katesari of Iran won gold, while Irene Laguna Perez of Spain took silver. (For a full fight report, please see the interview with Katesari on p.148). Bronzes went to Sofia Zampetti of Italy and Karina Ushakova of Russia.

Female -44kg In the female -44kg category finals, Maria Calderon of Costa Rica took on Thi Kim Ngan Ho of Vietnam. Both fighters started fast and both visited the mats in a clash, but then settled; the round ended 0-0. In the second, the taller Vietnamese girl landed a head kick, going three points up, ending the round 3-0. In the third, Calderon was desperately trying to land, but could just not get past Ho’s long and very versatile front leg, and lost another point on penalties. In the last 12 seconds, things got rough as the frustrated Calderon attacked and Ho went down outside the mats, losing two points for falling twice, and then a third time, but still ending it 5-2, taking gold and leaving Calderon with the silver.

Male -45kg

Male -48kg

In the male -45kg category, Chengchun Chang of Chinese Taipei – who had impressed the taekwondo punditry earlier in the day by handily beating a succession of taller opponents with a fearless, attacking style – took on Jun-seo Bae of Korea. Round 1 was gently paced, with both lads feeling out the distance, Bae kicking more,

In the male -48kg category, Jae-hee Mok of Korea won gold while Saran Tangchatkaew of Thailand took silver. (For a full fight report, see the interview with Mok on the pages following.) Georgios Ioannou of Greece and Ting Wei Tai of Chinese Taipei went home with bronzes.

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Female -46kg The final of the female -46kg category saw Napaporn Charanawat of Thailand win gold, while Rim Bayaa of Sweden took silver. (For a full fight report, please see the interview with Charanawat on p.154) Bronzes went to Nuray Muratkyzy of Kazahkstan and Abishag Semberg of Israel.

Male -51kg The finals of the male -51kg category promised a war. Ebrahim Safari Soumeeh of Iran wields his front leg in both a brilliant defensive posture and, in offense, with a wicked cut kick and round kick to the head. Jun Jang of Korea is also a headhunter who deploys a deceptive, axing crescent kick to the head mobilized by lively footwork and underwritten by excellent ring control. Action started from the bell as both lads extended their front legs, trying to dominate the ring and intimidate the opponent. But each was canceling the other’s techniques out, fighting from sideon stances and keeping their knees at the high chamber. What had promised to be a firefight degenerated into a tactical bout with the referee constantly calling on the two to fight. The round ended 0-0. Round 2 opened with both trying high kicks and both failing to land; the two were mirror images of each other. Again, the referee had to call once, twice, three times for the two to engage – but in vain. The round ended scoreless. In the third, Jang tried to close the gap with a jumping kick – to no effect. Finally the Iranian landed a punch, taking the board to 1-0. Jang tried a serial ax kickspinning back kick attack – no luck. With 20 seconds remaining, the Korean was forcing the Iranian to back pedal. In a messy clinch, the board went up to 136 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

1-1. The Iranian coach appealed; it was refused. Then, in a show of professionalism in the last seconds, Jang landed an arcing ax kick to the head that ended it 4-1 for the gold, leaving Safari Soumeeh with silver. It had been an exciting end to an otherwise disappointing match. Bronzes were shared by Sheng-lun Huang of Chinese Taipei and Sergei Kirsanov of Russia.

Female -49kg In the female -49kg, Yu-jin Kim of Korea took on Chia Yin Sung of Chinese Taipei. From the start it looked like a mismatch, with Kim towering over Sung by more than a head. Action began with Kim trying to drop the ax, varying her attack with a stabbing side kick. The Taiwanese looked intimidated and backpedaled laterally, trying to score on the counter. The round ended with the board empty. In the second, Sung shifted up a gear and Kim slipped, but then continued to move forward with her side kick-ax kick attack, while Sung returned fire with cut kicks and punches. Neither connected. Finally, Kim landed her ax, taking the score up to 3-0. As the final round got underway, Sung started taking risks, moving in on her much taller opponent. She landed a back kick to Kim’s body, but it did not register on the PSS. Again, she attacked, impacting with a jump round kick to Kim’s body that thwacked across the arena. Again, it did not register on the electronics. In the last 30 seconds, she forced Kim off the mats, scoring a point

on penalties. Then she fell herself, taking the board to 4-1. With just a few seconds remaining, Kim landed another head kick, taking the fight 7-2 and leaving Sung with silver. Bronzes were won by Gabriela Briskarova of Slovakia and Daniela Paola Souza of Mexico.

Male -55kg The male -55kg category final promised stratospheric scoring. Gashim Magomedov of Azerbaijan is a showy, versatile fighter with a spectacular arsenal – ax kicks, jump kicks, spin kicks – and very lively footwork, who had won his first semi-final on point gap. He was taking on Chan-ho Jung of Korea, another high-scoring head hunter with wickedly fast kicks who had also won his semi-final match by point difference. From the start Magomedov looked stylish, dancing around the ring, motioning high and low and trying to fake out his opponent – but Jung stayed cool in the face of these unorthodox tactics and scored first with a head kick to go 3-0 up. Both fighters shifted feet swiftly, trying to open the opponent up to attack; the Korean was throwing more kicks, while the Azerbaijani

was more mobile. In the last second of the round, Jung’s coach appealed for a head shot. It was denied. In Round 2, Jung’s speed came fully online as he stabbed out kicks like cobra strikes, landing another head shot to go 6-0 up. The action continued in the same vein as both boys switched legs, faked each other, and sought the advantage. The round ended 6-0 to Jung. At the start of the third, Jung struck with a hook kick to Magomedov’s jaw, going nine points up. Now Magomedov had to attack with real conviction. As the match moved into impact range, both fighters were unleashing ax, spinning and jumping kicks. Both fell in a tussle. Battle was halted while Magomedov replaced his mouth guard. With 50 seconds left, the Azerbaijani switched to jump spinning round kicks and

spinning back kicks. Jung stayed game, firing back with spinning kicks off his own. With Jung surging ahead on points and the last seconds counting down, Magomedov flew across the area with a jump spinning round kick-spinning heel kick combination which Jung narrowly evaded. The fight ended 12- 0 to Jung, with Magomedov taking silver. It had been by far the most exciting final of the day, a live-action movie of high kicking, high-octane taekwondo.

The first round started slowly, with the two exchanging probing kicks at range and manoeuvering in the center of the ring, but with neither making contact. The round ended with the board empty. In the second, Lo opened the scoring with a cut kick to the body, going one up, then two up, in close-range clashes. Kvartalnaia looked like she connected with a chopping kick to Lo’s face – but no score. Round 2 ended 2-0 to Lo.

Ali Baseri of Iran and Houssam El Amrani of Morocco went home with the bronzes.

The third stared with both girls fighting with more conviction and both supporting contingents making a lot noise. In a clash of round kicks, the Russian finally scored, going 2-1. With 23 seconds on the clock, Lo landed a an ax kick to the Russian’s face and the Russian, in mid-kick herself, dropped to the mats. A video replay was called for and accepted, putting Lo 5-1

Female -52kg The final of the female -52kg category saw Chia-ling Lo of Chinese Taipei go into battle against Ekaterina Kvartalnaia of Russia. Both girls looked well matched in physique.

Part 3 | Best of the Best 137


the more accurate and the board finished at 18-13 after a high-kicking, high-scoring. seesaw match. Zhao captured gold, leaving Beros with a well deserved silver. Natalia Nikliborc of Poland and Mobina Babalou of Iran won bronzes.

Male -63kg

up. The final seconds were furious as the Russian launched an all-out offensive. The noisy Chinese Taipei supporters counted the last seconds down and despite her last-minute assault, Kvartalnaia had to settle for silver, while Lo won gold. Ikra Kayir of Turkey and Laetitia Aoun of Lebanon both won bronzes.

Male -59kg The finals of the male -59kg category saw Hakan Recber of Turkey strike gold while Omar Lakehal of Morocco won silver (For a full fight report, see the interview with Recber on p.158). Bronzes were shared by Woo-jin Choi of Korea and David Nazaryan of Russia.

Female -55kg In the female -55kg final, the impressive 138 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Lijun Zhou of China took on Kristina Beros of Croatia. Things stared with a touch of comedy – Beros appeared on the mats without her helmet, generating laughs in the stands and forcing her doctor to run off and find it. As the fight got underway, Croatian fans were in fine vocal form, with claps, cheers and a cheeky “Areeba, Croatia!” But it was Zhou who struck first, with a lightning fast round kick to the head, lighting the board up with three points. The Croat struck back with a body shot, and the round ended 3-1 to Zhou. In the second, Beros clawed back a point, then another, taking the score 3-3, holding off the Chinese fighter’s wickedly swift ax kick, and even ducking under it. The Croatian’s game plan seemed to be working, as she struck under Zhou’s ax kick with a cut kick and over it with a punch – but the Chinese athlete must surely have one of the fastest and most deceptive legs

in the game, and she connected to Beros’ head again, going 6-3 up. The second ended 6-3 to Zhou. In the third, Beros flew into the attack, putting her opponent on the back foot – at one point, the Chinese girl, taken aback by the ferocity of this assault, turned her back on her opponent, and Beros raised her score up with a head kick. Remarkably, Zhou recovered her equilibrium almost immediately and replied with another ax kick, then there was a short break in the action courtesy of a video replay request from the Croatian coach. When battle resumed, both girls were firing head kick against head kick; the board climbed 13-10 to Zhou. It was a duel of powerhouse high attacks – round kicks from the Croatian, ax kicks from the Chinese – as the score went 15-13 to Zhou, with 30 seconds left. Both girls were playing for keeps, but it was Zhou who was

The finals in the male -63kg category pitted Nikita Pushanko of Russia against Amir Mohammad Bakhshi of Iran. From the start, Bakhshi looked stronger, though the Russian had a slight height advantage. And from the opening bell, the Iranian’s strategy was crystal clear: He was going to force the Russian onto his back foot and onto the perimeter of the mats. Both lads showed a high work rate with kicks, and were both trying to intimidate each other, but there were few clinches, and the action was largely flowing. Even so, neither connected and the round ended scoreless. The second continued in much the same way, with both cancelling out each other’s kicks, and neither managing to get their legs to full extension. The Iranian looked more dangerous with his chopping kick, but could not score. Finally, Bakhshi added a point as the Russian went over the perimeter, then added a second with an almost nonchalant-looking cut kick to the torso. Round 2 ended 2-0 to Bakhshi. In the third, it was yet again the Iranian who pressed forward, and yet again the Russian who was forced back to the edge of the mats. The Iranian added a third point with his cut kick while the frustrated Russian was unable to find space to extend his back kick, spin heel kick or ax kick. By the last 30 seconds, Pushanko was looking tired and had still not found a way to overcome Bakhshi’s forward pressure. Only in the last 10 seconds did he force the Iranian backward, but the round –

and match – ended 4-0 to Bakhshi, with Pushanko taking silver. Bronzes went to Joshua Liu of USA and Ferhat Can Kavurat of Turkey.

Female -59kg The final of the female -59kg category saw local favorite Skylar Park of Canada take

gold while Yen Hsin Yeh of Chinese Taipei won silver (For a full fight report, please see the interview with Park on p.150). Elizaveta Fedorova of Russia and Aysenur Ozcan of Turkey won bronzes.

Male -68kg The finals of the male -68kg saw the impressive Kostiantyn Kostenevych of Part 3 | Best of the Best 139


with a beautiful step side kick to the body, taking the board to 10-9 in his favor. In Round 3, the match’s seesaw quality continued, as the Ukrainian returned fire to take the board to 11-11. With just over a minute remaining, Kostenevych seized the lead, going 12-11 up with a cut kick to the body – but not for long as Tcakoev evened the score to 12-12. The Ukrainian stumbled and it was 13-12. Just half a minute remained. The Russian scored again to the body, going 14-12 up, then 15-12 up. And that was it. The high score was a fitting end to a very tight, hard-fought bout. In recent elite-level international competitions, unlucky Russia has all too often been an also-ran – consistently winning silvers and bronzes, but not golds. Finally, Tcakoev delivered the long-awaited gold. And Kostenevych had nothing to be ashamed of, taking silver in a very close fight that could have gone either way.

2-6. It was almost as if both fighters were saving up for the third and final round. The second ended 6-2 to Sogut. In the third, the taller Turk stood fast, letting the Russian attack her and not giving an inch. Blizniakova kicks just could not make the height against her taller opponent. Then, in a flurry of techniques, the Russian lost her head gear. Sogut landed another head kick; then, another, then yet another all in the space of five seconds. For the second match of the evening, a final had ended on point difference, 16-2.

In tears, the Turk stood to attention, saluting her crowd in the stands. Blizniakova took silver, while Nadja Savkovic of Serbia and Pari Javadi Kouchaksaraei of Iran won bronzes.

Male -73kg The finals in the male -73kg category pitted Seung-min Lee of Korea, who had won his semi-final match on point gap, against Sergey Karnuta of Russia – who had also won his semi-final on point gap. All fights tonight had started fast with the athletes

not bothering with probing attacks but going straight for the kill. And so it proved again. Lee scored 3-0 almost immediately, but Karnuta responded fast with a kick to the body for one point. The match then degenerated into messy clinching. The Russian was trying to score with side kicks, but the Korean scored with a crescent kick to the head in the clinch, going up 6-1. But as action resumed, the Russian manoeuvered the Korean to the edge of the mats and landed his own arcing head kick. Round 1 ended 6-4 to Lee. In the second, the two clinched again with

Bronzes were shared by Aliaskar Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Ferhat Muhammet Saroglu of Turkey.

Female -63kg

Ukraine, who had won his semi-final match by 12-point difference, take on Sarmat Tcakoev of Russia. The first round started fast, with both lads probing with kicks high and low, while the Russian and Ukrainian supporters roared from opposite sides of the stands. Both scored almost simultaneously – a body kick and a punch – to go 1-1. The two then scored again in a flurry of shots; the round ended 6-5 to 140 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Tcakoev. The second started at similarly high speed, the Russian scoring with a big overhand punch to go 7-5 up, then, in a fierce duel of multiple techniques, extended his score to 9-5. Kostenevych hit back, taking his points to 8-9, prosecuting attacks with real determination and not taking a step back. The Russian coach asked for a video replay: Denied. But immediately after the break, Tcakoev struck

In the female -63kg final, Seyma Sogut of Turkey did battle with Margarita Blizniakova of Russia. In common with the fast pace of earlier matches, the Turk scored almost immediately with an arcing ax to the head for 3-0. Blizniakova returned fire with a body kick, winning one point. A video replay request was denied to the Turk. Both dueled fiercely before the Turk raised her leg and not so much kicked as planted it squarely on Sogut’s face, going 6-1 up. The Russian fought back but Sogut blocked a powerful arcing kick to her head, ending the round 6-1. The second round was a change of pace, featuring largely desultory attacks – though the Russian clawed back a single point to Part 3 | Best of the Best 141 141


Lee trying to land his trademark crescent kick at ultra-close range. This was the pattern of the fight: Clearly the Russian had the advantage at range, Lee up close. Karnuta raised his score to 5-6 with a round kick to Lee’s body. Keeping his knee high and threating with his round kick, he forced Lee to back pedal – but in the clinch, Lee yet again landed his crescent kick to the rear of the Russian’s headguard. The second ended 12-8 to Lee. In Round 3. Lee raised his points to 138, but then the Russian landed to the head, lifting his score to 11. The pattern continued: Karnuta forced Lee back, Lee went to the clinch. Although both lads were looking tired, the Korean – yet again –

landed a crescent kick in the clinch, taking the scoreboard to 16-11. The Russian crowd were by now audibly unhappy at Lee’s unsatisfying style. Karnuta, though tired, was still fighting back, taking his score up to 15, then to 16 – and once again the Korean drew ahead to 19 points when he needed to, via yet another crescent kick in the clinch; the Russian seemed unable to deal with this tactic. The trailing Russian fought back, raising his score to 17. The pace was visibly slowing, with both looking exhausted. With just ten seconds remaining, the Russian upped his pace and actually grabbed the lead but – just when he needed it – the Korean scored with a head kick. After a last-second videoreplay request from the Russian coach –

denied – Lee took the match and the gold, 22-21. Lee had showcased a messy but effective style and had demonstrated a clear ability to win points exactly when he needed them. Karnuta, meanwhile, had fought well and deserved every ounce of his silver medal after a very exciting match. Bronzes went to Zachary Hiebert of Canada and Ayoub El Yaqini of Morocco.

Female -68kg The final match of the female -68kg category saw Polina Khan of Russia face off against Lauren Williams of Great Britain – who had been highly impressive in the semi-finals, winning by point gap. The

British girl started off aggressively, forcing her Russian opponent off the field of play and head kicking her on the way down and out, for 3-0. The three points were appealed for kicking a downed opponent; the appeal was upheld, ending with the points being withdrawn. But Williams did not let up as the action restarted, displaying a ferocious fighting style, firing a hellacious barrage and applying constant forward pressure. The round ended 3-2 to Williams. The Briton continued to dominate in the second, punching Khan to the edge of the mats and axing her on the way down. Again, the points – 6-2 – were appealed. Again, the appeal was accepted. Action restarted – and two punches from Williams TAEKWONDO Official Official Publication Publication of the of WTF the WTF 142 142 TAEKWONDO

delivered real “trembling shock” and took her score up to 4-2, then 5-2. The girls clinched and struggled. Yet again, Khan was evicted from the mats. The Russian tried to get back into the game, releasing some dangerous-looking spinning kicks, but Williams took her score higher, up to 6-2. One of Khan’s counterpunches caught Williams mid-kick, raising the Russian’s score to 3-6, before a penalty point gave Williams another point, 7-4. The round ended on that score. Well before the third round began, Williams was up on the mats, ready to rock. The Russian girl looked both tired and intimidated as she stepped up. Again, Williams stormed forward with a blitzkrieg

attack, scoring to Khan’s head, then the Russian was penalised for grabbing, taking Williams’ points to 11-4. Attacking mercilessly, the Briton was stabbing side kicks with savage intent; a side-kick punch attack gave her a 12-4 lead, a punch-round kick attack took the board 13-4. With five seconds left, the Russian coach appealed a head kick: no score. Action restarted and the British crowd counted down the last seconds. Final result: 13-4. It is rare that the fiercest fight of the finals is in the female category, but such was the case here. At the center of the mayhem, the referee had to work almost as hard as the fighters. Khan took silver and did well to stand up to Williams' hurricane-force assault: The Brit is

Part 3 | Best of the Best 143


Keselj was back in the game, a crescent kick rattled his headgear and the score was 16-6 – then Tandelov forced the German out of the area and tried to drop another ax, taking the score to 17-6. After a break in the action, Tandelov attacked with a superb sliding ax kick that he planted squarely on the German’s face for 20-6. Tandelov raised his hand in victory, gesturing to his supporters – and that was it: The match ended on point difference. A very convincing gold medal victory for the very big Russian lad.

3-1 up, even thought it was the Taiwanese girl was who was moving forward – this was nice tactical play from the back foot by the Iranian girl. Round 1 ended 3-1 to Pouresmaeil.

definitely a face to watch.

Male -78kg

score and Divkovic employing some nifty footwork to stay out of trouble. Still, the Turk struck, taking his score to 2-1, then 3-1 then 3-2 as the two exchanged fast, light techniques at distance. The round ended 3-2 to Lazoglu.

capable of, firing round kicks, ax kicks, crescent kicks and punches on the edge of the mats. When the bell went, Divkovic had taken gold, 6-5. He hurled his headguard to the mats in joy, leaving Lazoglu with the silver after a closely contested match.

In the male -78kg kg category, Hasan Can Lazoglu of Turkey took to the floor against Partik Divkovic of Slovenia – two athletes whose flamboyant fighting styles had earlier delighted the crowd. However, the first round started off with some desultory sparring as both lads strove to capture optimal position on the mats. Divkokic struck first with a one-point body kick, and the two continued their distance sparring, but with little action. Round 1 concluded, 1-0, to the Slovenian. The second started faster, with the Turk trying to even the

The final round started faster, with the Slovenian evening the score to 3-3. The Turk landed a cut kick, then the Slovenian shot back with a punch. Then there was a lull, with the referee calling again and again for them to close and fight. They did – and the score rose to 4-4. The Slovenian managed a kick on the retreat to go up 5-4. Things heated up as the board rose to 5-5, then Divkovic fired a picture-perfect punch – full extension, full retraction – to go 6-5 up. As the last seconds counted down the two fighters showed what they were

Bronzes were won by Ho-hyun Chun of Korea and Yan Bai of China.

Bronzes went to Mi-na Myeong of Korea and Kristina Cerina of Croatia.

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Female +68kg In the female +68kg category, Zahra Pouresmaeil of Iran took on Yun Ci Pan of Chinese Taipei. The former was giving away half a head in height and looked tired – but in taekwondo, you can never count out Iran. Pan struck first with a round kick to the body; the Iranian swiftly equalized from the edge of the mats, then went 2-1, then

In the second, the taller Pan was making every effort to score, but Pouresmaeil maintained a tight defense, making good use of parries and blocks, then came to life, with an apparent crescent kick to the face which did not score. A video replay was called for and rejected, leaving the board at 3-1. Both girls crashed to the mats as the action grew torrid, and Pouresmaeil looked like she had injured her hip. After a quick medial inspection, she was back on her feet. The round ended with the Iranian girl up, 3-2. As the third got underway, both girls were firing more techniques, but not scoring; Pouresmaeil gained another point, 4-2 as Pan hit the deck. Finally, the girl from Chinese Taipei scored with a punch, taking the board to 3-4, and in the final 30 seconds, clawed back another point to make it 4-4. With just 10 seconds remaining, Pouresmaeil scored again, 5-4. Right at the end it looked like Pan had landed an equalizing punch, but the clock had timed out. It was a highly professional

performance for gold by Poursemaeil, who had fought economically and done only what was necessary to stay ahead of her opponent throughout the fight. Silver went to Pan, and bronzes were shared by Do-hee Yoon of Korea and Rebecca McGowan of Great Britain.

Male +78kg In the male +78kg category, Russia’s Georgii Tandelov, the biggest player in the semi-finals, did battle with Aleksandar Keselj of Germany. From the beginning the Russian was fighting forward, landing heavy shots to both body and head. The German fought back gamely, but his lightfooted, flicky style of taekwondo was unable to parry the Russian’s powerhouse attack. Still, the Russian was no bulldozer: Defying his size, he landed a nimble head kick from the clinch to go 10-1 before a jumping ax kick by the German took the board to 10-4. A highly entertaining round. As the second got underway, both boys looked ready to get it on. The Russian sneaked a kick over the German’s shoulder to go 13-4; the German returned fire to go 5-13, then 6-13. But just as it seemed

Keselj took silver, while bronzes were awarded to Andrei Garbar of Ukraine and Leandro Souza of Brazil. The closing ceremony featured a series of animated photographs from the previous five days and speeches by dignitaries, then the teams swarmed onto the field of play - mingling, exchanging souvenirs and taking photographs with one another as rock music blasted out from the speakers. And that ended the 2016 World Taekwondo Junior Championships - the biggest tournament in the history of the event.

MVPs and Awards Female MVP: Skylar Park (Canada) Male MVP: Chan-ho Jung (Korea) Best Coach, Female Division: Fatemeh Safarpour (Iran)

Best Coach, Male Division: Jung-ho Kim (Korea)

Best Referees: Yassin Abdullah ai Naimat (Jordan), Eid Fairouz

Mesmari (UAE), Panikos Loizou (Cyprus), Eric Wah (Canada), Guler Gencturkoglu (Turkey)

Good Fighting Spirit Award: Brazil Active Participation Award: Australia

Part 3 | Best of the Best 145


Medal Table

2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships Rank

Country

Men Gold

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Silver

Women Bronze

Gold

Silver

Bronze

2

1

2

2

2

1

Korea

5

2

Iran

1

1

1

3

Russia

2

2

2

4

Turkey

1

1

2

1

5

Chinese Taipei

1

2

1

6

Thailand

1

1

1

7

Canada

1

1

7

China

1

1

7

Great Britain

10

Slovenia

10

Vietnam

12

Azerbaijan

1

2

12

Morocco

1

2

14

Croatia

14

Ukraine

16

Costa Rica

1

16

Spain

1

16

Germany

16

Sweden

20

Brazil

1

20

Greece

1

20

Israel

1

20

Italy

1

20

Kazakhstan

1

20

Lebanon

1

20

Mexico

1

20

Philippines

1

20

Poland

1

20

Serbia

1

20

Slovakia

1

20

USA

3

2 3

3

1

1

1 1

1 1

1

1

1 1

1

Part 3 | Best of the Best 147


S TA R S O F T O M O R R O W

Mobina Nejad Katesari

Iran

She started the game at the age of four, having seen bouts on TV. Already a third-dan black belt, Nejad Katesari has added her first world junior title to her roster of wins, which include two cadet championship golds – at the worlds in Muju, Korea, and at the Asians in Chinese Taipei, Taiwan, both in 2015. When it comes to offense, she is a master of the sliding ax kick and is fully ambidextrous. But what is her brilliant defense composed of? She puts it down to her ability with the push kick as a counter-attack weapon, but is unwilling to say any more: “It’s a secret!” she said, mischievously.

Part 3 _ Best of the Best

‘I am going to take taekwondo as my occupation for life. I recently made that decision as after my achievements, I believed I could do this’ The most outstanding of the Iranian juniors pulled off an awesome achievement: She fought her way to gold without surrending a single point on the way

N

obody could confirm whether or not it was a world record, but everybody in Burnaby was talking about it: The incredible run by Iran’s Mobina Nejad Katesari on Day 1 of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships. Over a day of fighting that ended with her being crowned world champion in the female -42kg category, she scythed her way through the opposition, scoring 73 points and conceding none. Yes, you read that right: None. Not one of her five opponents throughout the day managed to score a single point on the 15-year-old from Gilan, Iran. “I think that must be a record,” said WTF Technical Committee 148 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Chairman Kook-hyun Jung. “I don’t think anyone else has done that before.” “I don’t know, I can’t say,” added Peter Bolz, curator of www.taekwondodata.com. “But I think that is a record.” In person, Nejad Katesari does not come across as an invincible fighting machine. Quietly spoken and with a shy-but-ready smile, she is small in stature, lacking the towering height of some competitors. But she moves with the obvious physical grace of the athlete and has the self-assurance of the chosen. “Taekwondo is not about height, it is about techniques and about the mind,” she said. “Strength and ability are important, but on top of that, it is about hard work and trying over and over again.”

Fatameh Safarpour, coach of the Iranian Female Junior Team, is more forthcoming. “She is very smart and the key reason for her success in not giving any points away is that she can work with her knees very professionally – she brings up her knees – and she has a good push kick,” Safarpour said. “She is very quick and her explosive movements and flexibility help her, so that the opponent cannot react to her – she is ahead of her opponents.” Her other weapon is her mind. “I have the power of making images of the game before I fight,” she said. “This is what I learned from my coach.” She also has the intense discipline necessary to juggle schooling and the demands of elite taekwondo, for as a national team member, she has to attend the grueling three-month precompetition training camps at Tehran’s famous “Taekwondo House.” “When I am not in camp, I go to school, and in the evenings I go to taekwondo practice sessions,” she said, “When I am in the camps I focus on taekwondo, and when I get back home, I get personal tutors to help me catch up with other students.” She is not happy with the current ruleset. “Since the single touch with the sole of the foot has come in, most of the athletes use it and taekwondo does not have any beauty any more as they don’t

use the more technical moves,” she said. However, she is positive about recent developments with the PSS. “I believe that the electronic headgear is very helpful as you are sure that the foot has impacted the headgear,” she said. “In the traditional way, sometimes the referee might press the key without an impact.” Given her recent string of victories, she is 100 percent sure of her life path. “I am going to major in taekwondo in university and take it as my occupation for life,” she said. “I recently made that decision as, after my achievements, I believed I could do this. It

was motivating.” The decision to make taekwondo her life was completely her own, but her parents both encouraged and supported her, Nejad Katesari said. Naturally, they were “super happy” when she called them after her victory on the night of her win. As for influences in the sport, she cites her coach back home in Gilan, Neda Rastad. “She was my coach from the age of four,” Nejad Katasari said. “She gives me positive energy and high spirits.” Another is her taekwondo senior Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin – who, in Rio, became the first Iranian female athlete ever to win an Olympic medal and has since won fame across Iran. “I know her personally,” she said. “She gave high motivation to all Iranian girls, so now they believe that if they try hard, they can have great achievements – like her.” In the future, destiny awaits. Nejad Katesari’s ambitions are not lowly: She aims to be both an Olympic champion and a national team coach. “I am happy that, as a Muslim girl, my hijab did not create any limitations,” she said. And of course, that destiny can build on the foundation of a very impressive recent record. “By winning 75 points in five games without losing any, I could make history,” she said. Part 3 | Best of the Best 149


S TA R S O F T O M O R R O W

Skylar Park

Canada Part 3 _ Best of the Best

E

very tournament organizer secretly hopes that a hometown player will win: It adds that extra “oomph” to a competition and is sure to ignite not just the crowd, but the local community, too. On Day 4 of the WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships in Burnaby, Canada, Winnipeg native Skylar Park delivered exactly that.

‘Strategy can come later on, but if you don’t develop a physical base it is too late - the body only gives you a certain amount of time to develop’

150 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Skylar Park is biologically engineered for the game. The Canadian is a third-generation super kicker; her father and grandfather are both masters of the sport and art of taekwondo

The final of the female -59kg category pitted Park against the smaller Yen Hsin Yeh of Chinese Taipei. Almost at the opening bell, the hometown girl went one up with a body kick, prompting a fierce firefight as Yeh fought back. But it was Park who extended her lead to 2-0, then 3-0 - the last with a thwacking round kick to the body that drew gasps and cheers. Some messy clinchwork followed before regular action resumed. Both girls then exchanged a series of head shots. The round ended 3-0 to Park. In the second, Park again wasted no time, scoring with a fast head kick - then another - before tumbling to the mats after Yeh connected with a head kick of her own. The board surged to 12-3, but the lass from Chinese Taipei was still in the fight. She counterattacked with determination - but it was the Canadian fighter who landed yet another head kick. By now, she was looking very, very dominant. A break in the torrid action was called, with the bout at 15-4, as Park’s torso armour was re-secured. Park

landed a picture-perfect side kick that did not register on the PSS, then was forced out of the ring. Both girls clinched and fired head kicks, the two fighters’ techniques almost cancelling each other out. But Park’s technical mastery and excellence of technique were becoming evident – she scored with a side kick from the extreme close range. The round ended 16-5. As the bell rang on round three, Yeh had everything to fight for. Both girls were now fighting using the entire ring to manoeuver with Park again unleashing a textbook side kick. Then Yeh landed an out-of-nowhere head kick, raising her score to 8-16. There was a brief slowdown – the prior tempo had been too fast - then Park’s cut kick scored again for 17-8. Yeh was looking desperate. She hopped across the floor, flicking our leading leg on the high line, hunting Park’s head; the Canadian did well to evade. Then - suddenly - it was all over: The Canadian impacted with a head kick that gave her the victory on a 20-8 point difference. It had been a fine performance of clean and stylish taekwondo that delighted both the crowd and her team mates. Park bowed to the crowd, dashed to the stands, grabbed a national flag and stormed back onto the stage - where a duo of beaming Mounties, in full dress uniform, joined her for an impromptu (and unscheduled) victory celebration. And if the ringside hug between Park and her coach looked particularly tight, it was - they are also daughter and father. Part 3 | Best of the Best 151


‘The plan was just to go there and fight with confidence, to fight how I know I can’

Park’s seizure of a world championship title - and the championships' MVP award - was, perhaps, predestined: she has not two, but three generations of taekwondo blood running through her veins. The daughter of Master Jae Park (her coach) she is the granddaughter of Master Deuk-hwa Park, who migrated from Korea to Canada in 1977; out of his ten grandchildren, nine hold black belts. The family runs a successful dojang in Winnipeg. With this pedigree, it is not surprising that Park, 17, has been doing taekwondo “since I could walk.” Her father recognized that she had the strong mind that the sport demands as early as age three. Today, she wears a third-dan black belt. The gold-medal match went according to plan. “It was just to go there and fight with confidence, to fight how I know I can,” she said. “The plan was to go in strong from the beginning.” She plans to transition up to seniors, and has already gone toe-totoe with world-class senior competition at the Dutch and Belgian Opens in 2015. In the Dutch competition, she faced off against 2016 Olympic silver medalist Eva Calvo-Gomez, losing just 6-3. For a junior to lose by such a small margin to one of the top players in the game suggests stratospheric potential. With junior ranking points now being transferable to the seniors, she expects to be competing in the elite Grand-Prix series next year. “In the Olympic division at -57kg, she will be in the top 15,” her father said, confidently. As for her ambitions in the sport she is 152 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

– naturally – looking over the eastern horizon toward the Land of the Rising Sun in 2020. But life will not just be taekwondo: She also hopes to go to university next year, though she is not yet clear on what her major will: “Something sport related,” she said. She also enjoys soccer and golf. In terms of techniques, she said, “I like my side kick as a base but I like to do fancier kicks when I can.” In terms of physique, her father reckons his daughter is perfectly engineered for the sport. “Her body is made for taekwondo: She is long and lean, she has fast-twitch muscles – she has all the attributes to succeed in taekwondo,” he said. “And she can do all her techniques on both sides.” How about her mind game? Her father comes back with a surprising answer. “Her mental game is weaker than more than 50 percent of the athletes - and that is part of the plan!” Park Senior confided. “Athletes that have a strong mental game at the beginning do not emphasize the physical so much, as they get away with using strategy. In my opinion, strategy can come later on, but if you don’t develop a physical base it is too late - the body only gives you a certain amount of time to develop; the mind can always develop.”

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S TA R S O F T O M O R R O W

Napaporn Charanawat

impressive to behold as she raised her ax kick toward the ceiling again, again and again; the board went to 5-11. As the round counted down, Charanawat – finally – seemed to be tiring, relying more on counter punches than on head kicks.

Thailand

With 30 seconds left and the Swede 5-11 down, Bayaa had her work cut out and launched into all-out attack. But rather than retreating tactically and waiting for the clock to deliver her medal, Charanawat gamely fought back. In the dying seconds, both fighters tumbled to the floor. After a marathon of a match, Charanawat took gold 7-11, leaving Bayaa with a well-deserved silver.

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In person, “Mint” – her nickname is a word-play from her sister’s name – is upbeat and bubbly, sporting a boyish bob and flashing an ever-present grin.

N

apaporn “Mint” Charanawat started taekwondo at the age of eight because she was weak and sickly. Now, aged 17, the girl from Bangkok is world junior champion.

The path to gold in the female -46kg category was not easy: Her final fight against Rim Bayaa of Sweden was one of the most exhausting taekwondo battles this correspondent has ever witnessed – proof positive that the formerly sickly child has achieved an awesome level of athleticism and stamina.

‘I really wanted to be champ, I was very excited, but I had to calm down’

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Napaporn 'Mint' Charanawat was too weak and sickly to take up her national martial art of Thai kickboxing. She turned to taekwondo - and is now both healthy and a world champ

Both girls erupted straight into action from the opening bell, with the Thai dominating center court and the Swede attempting to score from the perimeter. Both were firing a wide range of techniques – ax kicks, crescent kicks, rear-leg round kicks – but it was the Thai who drew first blood with a razor-sharp chopping kick to the head that pole-axed the Swede to her knees for a 3-0 lead. Charanawat’s coach requested a video replay for a round kick to the head; it was denied. After an exchange of ax kicks in the clinch, the round ended 3-1 to Charanawat. As Round 2 got underway, Charanawat landed another head kick, going up 7-1. Action continued with the Thai trying to drop the ax and the Swede responding with spinning back kicks; Charanawat extended her lead to 10-1. More action followed with an exchange of punches, then the Swede landed to Charanawat’s head, bringing the board to 4-10. In the third, Bayaa went onto the attack, fighting forward strongly. The Thai’s flexibility was

Going back to her start in combat sports, she decided not to pursue Thailand’s native martial art – the fearsome Muay Thai kickboxing – instead choosing taekwondo to upgrade her health: “Muay Thai is too rough,” she said. “Some girls do it, but not many.” Taekwondo led to well-being, and she discovered a natural talent. As an athlete, she considers herself “very technical and very flexible.” Her favorite technique will surprise nobody who watched her match against Bayaa: “The ax kick off both legs,” she said. “And I try to make points with the punch.” But the key to her victory was staying focused in the moment. “I really wanted to be champ, I was very excited, but I had to calm down.” She is not happy with the current state of the game. “I don’t like this side kick, push kick, side kick,” she said, “I can’t do it, I am too small.” Her fighting inspiration is Jordan’s jump-kicking Olympic gold medalist Ahmad Abughaush. “He moves fast and has good strategy,” she said. In the future, she plans to transition to the adult division – and to study. “I want to go to the seniors, and I want to go to Tamarsard University to study advertising,” she said. Her ambitions are to be world champion in the seniors, then go on to the Olympics. After that, she would like to run a gym. In conclusion she thanked the Thai association who gave her the chance to attend Burnaby, the friends that she trains with, and her family. Speaking of which: How did Mint’s parents react to her world championship win? “I don’t know!” she laughed. “I called them, but because of the time difference between Canada and Thailand, they did not pick up!” Part 3 | Best of the Best 155


S TA R S O F T O M O R R O W

Jae-hee Mok

Korea

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t was unquestionably the most exciting final of Day 1 of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships. In the male -48kg category, Jae-hee Mok of Korea stalked onto the mats to contest gold with Saran Tangchatkaew of Thailand. Some junior matches are genteel, low-scoring affairs. What was about to transpire, however, was a real fight. Right after the opening bell, Mok attacked and scored to the body, going one point up and igniting cheers from his teammates. The Thai shot back with a fierce series of body shots. The tempo rose. Both lads were firing kicks with real venom. At ringside, even the most jaded, “seen-it-all, done-it-all” taekwondo masters and pundits had jerked awake and were following the action, blow-byblow. The Korean went two up, then appeared to land a face kick – but no score. His coach appealed; it was rewarded. Tangchatkaew fell twice and the round ended 6-0 to Mok. Round 2 was equally fast and furious with ax kicks, spinning back kicks and punches being unleashed by both fighters, but with no score from either.

‘I don’t have any hobbies! In my spare time, I just like resting at home’

Talk about working hard for your medal: In addition to his schoolwork, Korea's Jae-hee Mok works out seven days a week, rain or shine 156 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

In the third, Mok went up to nine points after firing a masterly body punch-head kick combo. In defense, his constant movement – he did not stand in one place for more than a second – and constant stream of attacks was making it impossible for the Thai to lock on his target radar. With the round only half over, Mok landed a picture-perfect ax kick to Tangchatkaew’s face, ending the match 12-0 and taking the gold on point difference. It had been a bravura display of taekwondo: fast-moving, hard-hitting and deadly accurate, enabled by Mok’s technical excellence and empowered by his physical conditioning. In person, however, the 17-year-old from Seongnam, Gyeonggido – the province surrounding Korea’s capital, Seoul – is almost the complete opposite of his offensive fighting persona. Shy, quiet and self-effacing, he left his coach, Kyung-bae Lee, to do most of the talking. “It was the first time for me to fight these athletes,” Mok said. “Me and my coach studied them a lot in the preliminaries and semifinals.” “The Thai guy was really good at the ax kick,” added Lee. “We studied him, and the idea was to avoid his ax kick.” What really lit up many ringside observers was Mok’s body punchhigh kick combination attacks. “It is my favorite technique,” he said. Although the punch is the lowest-scoring attack in taekwondo – to the point where some competitors neglect it almost completely – it is a specialty of his school, Pungsaeng

High School. “In our school, we use a lot of punches, we focus on exact punching skill,” said Lee. “If the referees see it, they don’t score it – but if they hear it, they score it!” Mok’s technical excellence may be down to his long apprenticeship: He has been playing taekwondo since elementary school. As well as his punch-kick combination attacks, and a wide arsenal of kicks, he has superb lateral footwork. He also has an ideal physique – fast and light – which explains his agility and stamina. As the icing on the cake, he has sound tactical sense, which has enabled him to take out a string of taller athletes. “To fight a tall person, when they raise their opposite leg, you have to attack to beat them to the kick,” Lee explained. “Taller athletes are slower.” In the future, Mok knows what he wants to do. “I want to major in taekwondo at university,” he said. “Everybody [parents and coach] has agreed. And I want to be a coach after competing.” Still, his chosen vocation means a tough, ascetic existence that few teens would be willing to tolerate. Under Lee’s tutelage, after school, he trains seven days a week: “The only time off is Sunday mornings,” Lee said. As a result Mok, unlike his contemporaries, has no time to hang out at the mall, hit the karaoke room. “I don’t have any hobbies,” he said. “In my spare time, I just like resting at home.”

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S TA R S O F T O M O R R O W

Hakan Recber

Lakehal of Morocco, whose flamboyant style had set the stands on fire in the semis. Lakehal had a slight height advantage, and looked lighter and faster on his feet than the Turk. As battle commenced, Recber took his stance in center stage while the Moroccan danced around him, displaying some nifty lateral footwork – then seized a 3-point lead with a heel kick to the head. The Turk struck back with a punch to the body for one point, then scored with his own head kick. The scoreboard was not idle for long: Lakehal caught his man with a spinning back kick that dropped him on the edge of the mat. Round 1 ended 6-4 to Lakehal.

Turkey

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‘I was four points down and that technique gets the most points. I wanted to catch him; he was coming; suddenly I just did it!’ Turkey's Hakan Recber won gold wielding taekwondo' s most spectacular technique. Pretty good for a lad who, just one year prior, could barely walk...

I

t is not just the ultimate weapon in taekwondo - it is one of the most demanding athletic moves the human body can perform.

The 360-degree jump spinning heel kick demands extreme levels of agility, coordination, flexibility and explosiveness. It is a technique that many taekwondo practitioners, despite years or practice, never manage – let alone master. On those rare occasions that it is seen, it tends to be, not in actual live competition, but in demonstrations or in action movies. Few – very few – can pull it off amid the speed, movement and stress of 158 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

actual combat. Hakan Recber is one of that select few. On the way to winning World Taekwondo Junior Championships gold in the male -59kg category, the 17-year-old from Ankara landed the legendary technique to the head of his opponent in one of the most spectacular matches of the tournament in Burnaby, Canada. The finals pitted Recber - who had survived a punishing match against Russia’s David Nazaryan in the semis – against Omar

In the second, the tempo rose further, with both fighters jumping and spinning. Neither was willing to concede the center of the ring, generating close-range clashes and clinches. The Turk added to his score, going 5-6. His tactics were sound: He closed inside the Moroccan’s dangerous kicking arc, clinched, then kicked, fast, off the break. He landed another; the board climbed. By now, some supporters were literally shouting themselves hoarse. The second ended with Lakehal maintaining a narrow 7-6 lead. As the bell rang on the third, this wicked match could go either way. In the most cinematic moment of Burnaby 2016, the Turk leapt and spun - his heel whipped round in a 360-degree arc and connected to Lakehal’s face, taking his score to 10. Ringside pundits started, looked at each other in amazement, and applauded. The Moroccan returned fire with a punch, taking the board 9-10. Both fenced with cut kicks, then the Turk landed a round kick to the head, taking his points to 14-9. By now, his range finder was fully locked on. With the action now up-close–and-personal, the board was accumulating points too fast to count. In a torrid clinch, both boys hit the deck – and in a nice moment of in-the-eye-ofthe-storm sportsmanship, helped each other up. Round 3 ended 18-12 to Recber. At the conclusion to their epic match, both lads embraced on the field of play. It had been a masterful performance from the Turk – one made even more extraordinary by the fact that, just a year earlier, he had been semi-paralyzed. “On the first day of 2015, I woke up and all my body was like a fever and my urine was late,” he recalled. “I went to a neurologist with my father. After he examined me, he told that I had this very special kind of illness [of the vertebrae] - it is very rare anywhere in the world - and I would have paralysis in the lower body.” So it proved. For a boy who had grown up playing, jumping and

kicking in his father’s taekwondo salon, and taking up the sport at the age of six, the enforced immobility was devastating. “I could hardly move,” he said. “I was so sad, I was wondering what I could do.” He underwent extensive physical therapy, with his father working closely with him. He was determined not to give in, to keep moving. Little by little, it paid off. Eventually, after a year, full movement returned. At the beginning of 2016, he returned to taekwondo. As year-end approached, he dived into intensive World Juniors fight preparation. “I slept in the salon,” he said. In special preparation, he draped the salon with the flags of all nations competing, turned up the music and competed against all his friends: A dry run for Burnaby. And in Burnaby – in defiance of his recent illness - he won gold in tremendous style. So: How about that awesome kick? “During the game I forgot to breathe, but the energy on-call comes automatically and suddenly the techniques were coming too,” he said. “I was four points down and that technique gets the most points. I wanted to catch him - he was coming - and suddenly I just did it!” Turkish Head of Team Mustafa Cam notes that the spectacular jumping and spinning moves of Turkish legend Servet “The Cheetah” Tazegul – while not ideal for the current “new school taekwondo” – continue to inspire. “Before the Protector and Scoring System (PSS), we always worked on the special taekwondo techniques – real techniques, like Servet’s! – as all the athletes look up to Servet, they all want his technique,” Cam said. “When the PSS came in, the front leg came in and the techniques went down. Now, we have to combine the front leg and the other techniques. Hakan is a very good example of this.” “I really respect Servet,” Recber said – though he adds that his best weapon is not his aerial spinning heel kick, but his mind. That, his coach reckons, may be due to Turkey’s national DNA. “It is in our blood: Our citizens are a little bit of a warrior people, our story is like that,” Cam said. “We have big hospitality, but when something happens – our blood is up!” With World Junior gold added to his list of wins, Recber’s future path is clear. “I am going senior, I want the same achievements in the senior category – and that means the World Championships and Tokyo 2020,” he said. “I will have to work hard, step by step, moving up. I hope to get success – Inshallah.” Given his recent misfortune, he is highly appreciative of the hand fate has dealt him. “I was lucky,” Recber said. “Now I am back 100 percent!” Part 3 | Best of the Best 159


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10th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

Poetry of Motion, Art of Combat The 10th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships were the largest ever, showcasing the art, rather than the martial, of taekwondo

Location: Lima, Peru Date: Sept. 29 - Oct. 2, 2016 Attendees: 55 countries, 760 athletes, 187 officials Overall Winner: Korea

The 10th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships got underway in Lima, Peru on Sept. 29, 2016, for a four-day run, with the world’s best athletes from seven divisions across five age categories competing for gold. All told, 36 divisions would be contested. 160 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

A total of 55 countries and 760 athletes took part in the championships, held at Lima’s National Sport Village arena – a record for the event. Korea topped the medals table, followed by Turkey in second place and the USA in third. On the evening of Day 1, the opening

ceremony of the championships was held in the arena. Among VIPs attending, WTF President Chungwon Choue was joined by IOC Member and WTF Vice President Ivan Dibos, Pan America Taekwondo Union President Ji-ho Choi, Federacion Deportiva Peruana de Taekwondo President Joao Tanaka, Peru Olympic Committee President

Jose Quinones Gonzalez and President of the Peruvian Sport Institute Saul Barrera. Choue spoke to the audience about the impact of the inclusion of poomsae taekwondo at the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018, and the significant increases in the popularity of poomsae competition around the world.

On Day 1, the seven gold medals available were split between five different countries with Korea and Turkey both finishing the day with two golds and Mexico, Chinese Taipei and the United States all winning one. • Individual Men's Cadet It was Mexico’s William Arroyo who came out on top beating Iran’s Sepehr

Abdi to the gold medal. Hometown favorite Santiago Aguirre Flores won bronze along with Jae-wook Yoon from Korea. • Individual Women's Cadet Yu-ha Kim from Korea won gold with Huiyue Zhang from China taking silver and Melia Hus from the Netherlands and Sevval Yarar from Turkey claiming

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the two bronze medals. • Individual Men's Under 60 Turkey’s Mustafa Yilmaz secured gold, France’s Philippe Montosi won silver and Korea’s Byoung-young Lim and Australia’s Robert Pace shared bronze. • Pairs Under 30 Korea earned its second gold of the day as they saw off competition from Thailand, which won silver, and Iran and Turkey, which took bronzes. • Women's Team Under 30 It was Chinese Taipei that finished in

the gold medal position, with Vietnam finishing with silver and Iran - as in the Pair Under 30 category - finishing with bronze. • Individual Free Style Over 17 Adalis Munoz of the United States won gold, Ingrid Gomez Schroth of Spain won silver and Soraya Wahjudi of the Netherlands and Winnie Yi Wu Acuy of Peru won bronzes. • Freestyle Pair Under 17 Turkey won gold, Spain silver and the United States and Vietnam won bronzes.

Day 2 saw medals awarded in team, pair and individual competitions across 11 divisions. Five countries won two gold medals each: the Philippines, Iran, China, the Republic of Korea and the United States, while Germany won the remaining gold medal. • Men's Team Over 30 The Philippines took gold over Turkey whilst Iran and the United States took bronzes. • Women's Team Over 30 Iran went all the way to win gold, with

the United States winning silver and Finland and Russia winning bronze medals. • Men's Team Cadet China ousted Vietnam to take the gold with Peru, in front of a home crowd, winning bronze along with the United States. • Pairs Junior Korea took the title with Mexico winning silver, and Iran and the United States finishing with bronze medals. • Individual Men's Uner 50 It was Korea’s Jin-han Lee who won

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gold beating Pok-sun Yang from the United States. The bronzes went to June Ninobla from the Philippines and Hayri Temel Alper from Turkey. • Individual Men's Under 40 The Philippines celebrated another gold medal thanks to Ernesto Guzman’s triumph over Iran’s Ali Salmani. The bronze medals were won by Korea’s Do-gyeong Kim and Serbia’s Branislav Kuruca. • Individual Women's Under 60 Germany’s Imke Turner overcame Mexico’s Patricia Martinez to win gold with the Korea’s Yeong-ae Seo and

Austria’s Leni Niedermayr taking the bronze medals. • Individual Women's Under 40 Atousa Farahmand Parsa from Iran was crowned the victor ahead of Russia’s Natalia Tipliakova. Finland’s Johanna Nukari and Turkey’s Serim Olgun Kahveci won the bronzes. • Individual Women's Over 65 it was victory for the United States thanks to Erica Linthorst’s efforts in overcoming Russia’s Valentina Kontorina. The bronzes were awarded to Olga Maria Bustos from Colombia and Lis Borring from Denmark. Part 3 | Best of the Best 163


• Free Style Team Over 17 China took gold with Vietnam taking silver and Denmark and the Philippines in the bronze medal positions.

Day 3 delivered a total of eight gold medals to seven different countries across the individual, pair and team competitions.

• Free Style Individual Men's Under 17 The United States' Tyler Dao took gold with Turkey’s Enes Doguhan Bilgin gaining silver. Vietnam’s Anh Tuan Bui and Canada’s Mark Bush won the bronze medals.

China, Thailand, Turkey, Korea, Australia, the United States and Ukraine all claimed gold medals. • Men's Team Under 30 China defeated Chinese Taipei for the gold medal, with Iran and the Philippines winning bronze medals. • Women's Team Junior Thailand beat Chinese Taipei to gold in

the, with Vietnam and China claiming bronze medals. • Pairs Over 30 Turkey were victorious as Iran took the silver and Chinese Taipei and Brazil won bronzes. • Individual Men's Under 30 Korea’s Kwang-ho Park won the gold medal. China’s Yuxiang Zhu won silver, while Iran’s Mahdi Jamali Fashi and the Philippines’ Rodolfo Reyes Jr. won bronzes. • Individual Men's Over 65

Australia’s Barry Jordan claimed the title ahead of Great Britain’s Michael Pejic, who won silver, and Brazil’s Moyses Takanohashi and Bruce Gallup of the United States, who both took home bronzes. • Individual Women's Under 50 Thoa Nguyen of the United States 164 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

won the gold medal while Germany’s Candida Tunkel won silver and Russia’s Tatiana Parfenenko and Sweden’s Charlotte Dahlqvist took the bronzes. • Free Style Pairs Over 17 Turkey claimed their second gold medal of the day. The United States won the silver medal with China

and the Philippines claiming bronze medals. • Free Style Inividual Women's Under 17 Anna Boryesenko of Ukraine beat Eva Sanderson of Denmark for gold and Gulsena Karakuyulu of Turkey and Canada's Michelle Lee won bronzes.

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On Day 4, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam, Korea, Australia, Turkey and the Philippines all claimed gold medals. • Men's Team Junior Chinese Taipei defeated Mexico for the gold, with Iran and the United States winning bronze medals. • Women's Team Cadet Vietnam beat Turkey to gold with Mexico and the United States winning bronze medals • Pairs Cadets Korea claimed gold in a victory over

China, leaving the United States and Mexico with bronzes. • Individual Men's Under 65 Hee-do Kim of Korea won gold while the United States’ Chi Duong won silver and Iran’s Ghorban Delshad and Great Britain’s Peter Johnson won bronzes. • Individual Women's Under 65 Australia’s Bronwyn Butterworth came top after defeating the United States’ Diana Hunt, with Marie France David from France and Catalina Hernandez Ramos from Spain winning bronzes.

• Individual Men's Junior Ji-won Kim claimed Korea’s third gold medal of the day ahead of Germany’s Shajan Sepanlou, who took silver, while Turkey’s Muhammed Emir Yilmaz and the United States’ Alex Lee won bronzes.

• Individual Women's Junior It was Chieh-ren Hsiao from Chinese Taipei who took the gold after defeating Da-sol Kim from Korea, with the United States’ Rikki Jao and Mexico’s Sofia Sepulveda claiming bronzes.

• Individual Women's Under 30 Turkey’s Elif Aybuke Yilmaz won gold with Peru’s Marcela Castillo Tokumori coming second and Marjan Salahshouri from Iran and Claudia Cardenas from Ecuador winning bronzes.

• Free Style Team Under 17 Vietnam beat Turkey to win gold, while Russia and the United States took home the bronze medals. • Individual Men's Over 17 Jeordan Dominguez from the Philippines claimed gold ahead of Vietnam’s Dinh Khoi Nguyen who won silver, while Colombia’s Leandro Augusto Rodriguez and Turkey’s Oguzhan Mustafa Ornek went home with bronzes.

The championships came to a close with the First Lady of Peru, Nancy Lange Kuczynski, attending. During her visit, the first lady met with teams from different countries and had the opportunity to present a silver medal to Peruvian athlete Marcela Castillo Tokumori in the Individual Women's Under 30 division. Peru won one silver and three bronze medals overall. She also met with Choue to discuss the popularity of taekwondo throughout Peru. In the meeting, she praised the Peruvian Taekwondo Federation for organizing such

a successful championships. “It was an honor to welcome the first lady of Peru to our Poomsae Championships here in Lima," Choue said. The WTF president also discussed the future of the event. “I hope that poomsae will be included on the sports program for the Pan American Games, just as it has been for the 2018 edition of the Asian Games,” he said. “We have ambitions for poomsae to be part of the European Games and the All Africa Games in the future.”

MVPs and Awards Male Recognized Poomsae MVP:

Kwang-soo Jeon (Korea)

Female Recognized Poomsae MVP:

Satoru Saito (Japan)

Kwang-ho Park (Korea)

Elif Aybuke Yilmaz (Turkey)

Female Freestyle Poomsae: Anna Borysenko (Ukraine)

Male Freestyle Poomsae:

Jeordan Dominguez (Philippines) Best Coach Award:

Nesime Altun (Turkey)

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Best Referees Award: Constantin Zabbal (Germany) Karen E. Amour (Canada) Viktor Romancuk (Croatia) Muhktar Kadiri (Ghana) Good Fighting Spirit Award: Philippines Active Participation Award: Brazil

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AT H L E T E

interview Sylvie Rouquie

Israel

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t was a heart-breaking piece of bad luck, a soul-destroying attack of misfortune. “I arrived, as the other 800 competitors did, I arrived in Lima with joy, pride and the desire to give the best of myself,” said Israeli National Team Member Sylvie Rouquie.” But on the eve of the competition, I got injured.” Rouquie, a 54-year-old lawyer and university professor, had travelled more than half way across the world to compete in the 10th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, held in Peru’s capital.

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The Path to Machu Picchu: From Injury to Adventure She came all the way from Israel to Peru – but was unable to compete due to injury. Even so, the experience provided Sylvie Rouquie with the opportunity to assess her taekwondo – past, present and future

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She already knew a thing or two about hardship. Taekwondo is an athletically demanding sport, one customarily played by youth in their teens or early 20s. Rouquie had taken it up at the age of 37, alongside her 6-year-old daughter. Now, her dream of competing at the world’s highest level lay in tatters. “I immediately understood that the intervention of a doctor or osteopath would not solve anything,” she said. “But as it is difficult to give up, I went in search of an unlikely medical solution…in fact it was not a doctor I was looking for, but a magician.” In this kind of story, it is often the case that a magician – a faith healer, perhaps; an alternative therapist; even a martial arts master with mysterious healing powers – appears from nowhere. He or she pulls off a minor medical miracle that baffles conventional doctors, then disappears. But this is not fiction – this is a true story. No magician appeared. No miracle took place. Rouquie was off the mats; sidelined; out. “A very unpleasant feeling of failure and powerlessness invades

mats. Her mind wandered. Rouquie recalled her own taekwondo odyssey. The years of demanding training. The black belt earned at age 40. The first national competition at age 42. The first international competition at age 49. And she recalled the guidance she had received from her masters: Philippe Montosi, Moon-ho Lee, Ky-tu Dang. She recalled the endless daily grind of practice of taekwondo poomsae, chiseling away the inessentials “…in search of the accurate gesture.” Her mind settled. “I became aware – but a little late, I admit! – that the daily practice of poomsae, the everyday exercise of will power, had offered me a second, unhoped-for life,” she said. “It was filled with adventures as well as strong friendships – and some disappointments!” Given that she was unable to compete – but given that she had crossed continents and oceans to be in Peru – she decided to leave the arena. She caught a plane and then a train to visit the country’s most iconic destination: Macchu Piccu. She made it to the summit of the 15th-century Inca citadel, perched on a mountain ridge 2,430 meters above sea level – a journey few are privileged to make. In that wondrous location – by pure coincidence – the injured taekwondo athlete met another visitor: None other than WTF President Chungwon Choue. It was he who encouraged her to tell her story – the story that you are reading now. “In martial arts, it is often considered that the path travelled is more important than the goal,” she mused. “My path led me from Toulouse, to the ‘Hwarang Academy’ of Jerusalem, to Machu Picchu.”

‘The daily practice of poomsae, the everyday exercise of will power, had offered me a second, unhoped-for life’ you,” she said. “Even if you are supposed to have acquired a certain degree of wisdom, you are in fact, terribly disappointed and you find the situation unfair – you blame yourself for not having been able to prepare cleverly.” Regardless, the competition got underway. Sidelined on the bleachers, a feeling of being “irretrievably punished” settled upon Rouquie. Watching the competition, she witnessed her most formidable competitor, Korea's Yeong-ae Seo – a nine-time world champion– suffer a debilitating injury mid-performance, on the

Despite the cruel disappointment of being unable to compete and the pain of injury, Rouquie’s long, long journey had, in the end, proved worthwhile. Instead of a medal, she had had an adventure. She had travelled to a location few will ever be privileged to visit. And she had found a new friend. “I am not a wise person, and at 54, the path is still long,” she said. “I wish all champions – including those who have only won a medal in their dreams; the young and the less young; the women and the men; the masters and the amateurs – to continue with conviction and passion the practices of poomsae.” Part 3 | Best of the Best 169


AT H L E T E

interview Yu-ha Kim

D

espite being just 14 years old, Korean poomsae athlete Yu-ha Kim was acutely aware that the 10th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships was her last opportunity to compete as a cadet – and it was not an opportunity she would let slip.

Korea

“I am the oldest in cadet division, so I did not want to miss this,” Kim said. “For this competition, I sometimes practiced until dawn. I practiced hard during the weekend. I am a hard worker. I practice over and over again to remember.”

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‘The Mollusc’ Captures Gold, Delights Dad

One advantage Kim has is that taekwondo is a family affair. Her

poomsae individual and recognized poomsae pairs at her firstever world championships in Lima. “He is busy but he still came to Peru with me for the competition so I thought I will be very sorry if I lose,” she said. “After I won I looked back - and he was there. He told me, 'Good job!'” While Kim’s dedication and hard work paid off, the young world champion recognizes that any sport it is about having fun. Now, she is enthusiastic about changing her game. In the future, she is going to switch focus – from recognized poomsae to the funkier freestyle competition.

‘I think this is something via which people can show their own style and personality.’ father’s dojang is the setting for her intense training regime, and it was her father who first encouraged her to take up taekwondo; he thought her natural flexibility as a child would give her an advantage in the sport. It is this flexibility which explains Kim’s offbeat nickname: “Mollusc!” His efforts were crowned with success. Kim Senior had the satisfaction of watching his daughter win golds in recognized

“I don’t know what others would think about change, but I am very positive,” she said. “It will make poomsae more fun, as I think this is something via which people can show their own style and personality.”

Nevertheless, she will continue to train in recognized poomsae as she hopes to emulate her role model, perennial Korean champ Su-ji Kang, by winning multiple world championship golds. “This was the first time for me to compete in the world championships and once I experienced this big stage, I want to come next time as well,” she said. “This feels so different from other competitions: This is the competition that everyone knows about and wants to compete in.”

Yu-ha Kim may just have the most offbeat nickname in taekwondo, but in Lima, she made her dad a very proud man

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AT H L E T E

interview Adalis Munoz

P

oomsae taekwondo has grown dramatically in recent years and for athletes like 20-year-old American Adalis Munoz the hope is that one day the discipline might – just might – join kyorugi in the world’s ultimate sporting arena: The Olympic Games.

USA

“I’m excited to see how poomsae is growing,” Munoz said. “There has definitely been a rise in competition over the past two years. I hope that poomsae will be included in the Olympics.”

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Dreaming of an Olympic Poomsae Routine Blending athleticism and emotion while ensuring that moves are not just spectacular but are also practical - these are the elements that make up a world championship poomsae routine

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While there are, as yet, no indications that poomsae will get the Olympic nod, the growth was very clear to see at the 10th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, in Lima, Peru, which boasted a record number of athletes and teams. Munoz took gold in the individual freestyle – defending the gold medal she had won at the event two years earlier. Having won gold at two consecutive world championships and many national titles, Munoz is now a well-established name in freestyle poomsae. She trains six hours a day and is always pushing herself to improve. “I worked hard on jumping higher,” she said. “I wanted

to showcase getting comfortable in the air and not being afraid of going higher.” Munoz choreographs her own routines with her mother. Only then does she share them with her coach, Barbara Brand, to check what looks good and what does not – the end result is that 80 percent of her final program comes from herself. This allows her to focus her routine on what she believes are winning elements, such as soaring jumps and cartwheels – while making sure the routine is “practical” and not too “crazy.” Munoz believes it’s important there are effective fighting applications in her routine: “That’s part of tradition.” But it is the freedom freestyle offers her that really attracts her to the sport. “Freedom to express yourself, with your music choice,” she advised. “If you want the audience to feel something, you put in emotion.” At just 20, Munoz continues to hope that one day she will have the chance to express herself and light up the audience on the Olympic stage.

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was not getting points but the crowd was loving it every time his leg left the mats. In a flurry, Beigi Harchegani went one point up, which ended the round. It had appeared that he was not going to get things all his own way, as he had for most of the day, but he looked more relaxed in the second round, firing sky-high ax kicks and round kicks in a display of picture-perfect form. Then, in a clinch, he scored with a crescent kick to the head, igniting the crowd as he went 4-0 up, then 5-0 up.

WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final

Hurricane-Force Action in the Final Fights of 2016 In their first major gathering since Rio, the taekwondo elite did battle on the shores of the Caspian for gold, glory and prize money as the 2016 fighting season ended with a bang

Location: Baku, Azerbaijan Date: Dec. 9-10, 2016 Attendees: 41 countries,118 athletes, 140 officials Overall Winner: Great Britan

As the 2016 fighting season drew to a close, the heroes gathered in Azerbaijan, the host of the last great taekwondo clash of the year: The World Grand-Prix Final. There was hurricane force action in the Sarhadchi Olympic Sports Complex in the Azeri capital of Baku – “The City of Winds” – as the event pitted 118 athletes from 41 nations against each other for medals, prize money and early ranking points ahead of the 2017 fighting season. The event was the first elite-level meeting of taekwondo’s top fighters since the Rio Olympics. Despite some uneven bouts in the 174 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

preliminaries and semifinals, all the finals proved to be scorchers.

Female -49kg In the semi-finals, Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist So-hui Kim of Korea had beaten Svetlana Igumenova of Russia in a disappointing match that ended scoreless; Kim won it on superiority in golden point. Charlie Maddock of Great Britain had also defeated Iryna Romoldanova of Ukraine in golden point. However, these mediocre results lined up a final that promised a clash of styles: Kim is a master counter-

kicker, with a wily tactical game and excellent footwork; Maddock is a powerful, aggressive fighter, with a never-step-back, take-no-prisoners style. As the buzzer went on Round 1, Maddock – as anticipated – surged out, fighting strongly and immediately pressuring Kim. Kim fought back gamely, fighting a more active fight than she had showed earlier in the day; she appeared to have decided that she would not let Maddock play her customary steamroller game. It was a lively round – but ended without a score. The second round kicked off with Maddock not at all intimated by the Olympic champ.

Kim reverted to her customary evasive style, leaving Maddock to expend energy firing multiple kicks. But it was Kim, fighting economically, who looked more dangerous – failing to score by a whisker with two head shots. Round 2 ended scoreless. Round 3 continued in the same vein with plenty of kicking, but no contact and no points. With just 12 seconds on the clock and the board empty, Maddock riposted a Kim attack with a reverse spinning turning kick to the head – then-swung back with a round kick, without putting her foot down: An extraordinary display of leg control, brilliant timing and spectacular technique. She went 4-0 up. In the final seconds Kim, a cagey, tactical fighter, was powerless to riposte. The match ended with a well-deserved 4-0 win for the British girl who is clearly charmed in Azerbaijan – her previous big win had been the European Games in Baku. Kim had to be content with silver. For bronze, Igumenova of Russia fought Romoldanova of Ukraine. The taller Russian

girl showcased some lively lateral footwork and was the more active of the two, holding off a last-minute blitzkrieg and winning bronze in convincing, if low-scoring style, 1-0.

Male -80kg There was everything to fight for in the male -80kg category: Neither the Olympic gold medalist nor the silver medalist was fighting. The final pitched Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan – one of the highest scoring fighters on the face of the planet; in the semis he had dispatched Rene Lizarraga of Mexico 18-0, winning in the second round on point difference – against Seif Eissa of Egypt, who had earlier beaten Russia’s Albert Gaun, 7-5. With both lads being tall and long-legged, feet flew from the outset. The super-scoring Azeri did not have his customary height advantage but exhibited masterly ring craft, maneuvering the Egyptian backward and firing kicks from extraordinary angles. He

The referee did well to keep the action under control as the Azeri forced the Egyptian to the edge of the mat and unleashed an explosive flurry of ax and round kicks. The Egyptian ducked under, trying desperately to take cover from the storm. Slow-motion replay showed the dexterity and beauty of the Azeri’s play, such as unleashing a perfectly vertical ax kick then firing a round kick – without dropping his foot. Beigi Harchegani had found the range, ending the second round 9-0 up. Still, Eissa was full of fight. In the third, he came out with a jumping ax kick that did not land. The Azeri’s defensive skill was now on show as, with control and composure, he ducked away from a spinning heel kick. Then he landed yet another head shot to win gold by 12-point gap. In the person of Beigi Harchegani, pinpoint accuracy, superb technique and inhuman flexibility are married to a perfect physique – he is most definitely a man to watch, though his speed is such that slomo replays are essential to appreciate his excellence. Kudos also must go to Eissa, who took sliver, for withstanding the onslaught for so long. In the bronze medal match, Lizarraga took on Gaun. The Russian looked far more in control than he had in the semis, taking the bronze 10-3 in an exciting fight that Part 3 | Best of the Best 175


saw both fighters unleashing multiple techniques, but with the Russian proving the master of distance and accuracy.

Female -67kg In the semis, Olympic gold medalist Hyeri Oh of Korea took out Elin Johansson of Sweden, 6-0, in professional, economical style. Meanwhile, Chia Chia Chuang of Chinese Taipei had eliminated Petra Matijasevic of Macedonia after a 1-1 match in golden point. So for the finals, these two experienced Asian warriors would go to war for the gold, with Chuang out for vengeance: Oh had eliminated her in Rio. From the beginning, Oh hung back, fighting with economy, daring her opponent to attack and feinting with her arms. Both athletes were feeling each other out, trying to close the range; the ChineseTaipei girl probing with kicks, Oh trusting to her footwork and only raising her leg for

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committed attacks. Things heated up, both players firing flurries, but it was Oh who was looking confident. Oh ended the round 1-0. Again, in Round 2, Chuang was firing more kicks but Oh was gliding smoothly in and out of range. Things settled down with both girls seeking to close the distance. Chuang looked frustrated; Oh looked cool. Then something happened that changed the fight dramatically. Chuang connected with a round kick to the side of Oh’s head, but suffered a powerful back kick to the thigh from Oh that dropped her. The board was now 3-1 to Chuang, but the player from Chinese Taipei was on the floor. The doctor was called and treatment given: she had one minute to recover. Action resumed. Oh now had to do the work and attacked, but the round ended 3-0 to Chuang. The question hanging over the final round was whether Chuang’s

battered thigh would carry her through. As the third got underway, Oh naturally sought to take advantage. Chuang played on the back foot, keeping her front leg up as guard, trying to keep Oh at distance and clinching when necessary. Oh went onto the offensive with some powerful shots, but then in a clinch scored two out-ofnowhere head shots, taking the board 7-3. The Korean followed with another point, going 8-3 up. With 13 seconds left, Chuang was clearly struggling. It ended 8-4 to the Olympic champ. It had been a professional performance by Oh, pulling a lead out of nowhere exactly when she needed it, and a gutsy performance by Chuang, who fought a painful fight to take a well deserved silver. In the bronze match, Johansson of Sweden and Matijasevic battled to a 1-1 draw, then the Swede won it in golden point on superiority.

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of the round, Jones landed a tight, in-close spinning back kick that lifted her score 4-0. In the final round, Wahba came out attacking strongly, but Jones was having none of it and returned fire with venom. Jones kept trying her famed head kick while pushing back against all pressure from the Egyptian. The Briton’s conditioning and work rate were phenomenal; Wahba was simply unable to penetrate through Jones' constant bombardment. An ax kick shook Wahba, which Jones followed by a spinning kick. Then it was over: A formidable, 7-0 victory to “The Headhunter” who has taken her first, formidable step on the path to Tokyo 2020. Wahba’s silver was well deserved. In a contentious bronze match marked by kick blocking and close-ranges clashes, Lee – perhaps thirsty for revenge after her drubbing at the feat of Jones – beat Jones’ teammate Booth, 4-2, for the medal.

Male +80kg Male -58kg In the semi-finals, Tae-hun Kim of Korea beat Jesus Tortosa Cabrera of Spain 3-2 in a close, bruising encounter. In one of the most entertaining matches of the day, Carlos Navarro of Mexico took out rising young gun Salaheddine Bensaleh of Belgium. That left the experienced, ambidextrous and popular Kim to battle the fiery Mexican, who has an attacking style and wields a killer spinning back kick. It promised to be an entertaining match up – and while it lived up to its promise, proved a highly unusual fight. Both fighters started fast, exchanging kickfor-kick as they tried to dominate the center of the ring. This was stylish stuff, with Kim shooting powerful-looking round kicks and Navarro unleashing a whiplash reverse 178 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

turning kick that – had it connected – would have severed Kim’s head. Remarkably, the round ended scoreless. Round 2 saw more tactical play in the center of the mats and again the Mexican firing off deadly looking techniques. Both were fighting with no-holds-barred power kicks, but neither was landing. At the end of the round, the board remained stubbornly empty, in defiance of the quality of play from both fighters. All was to fight for in the third. There were some explosive flurries as the Korean tried to pressure the Mexican back. Kim tried jumping techniques, but Navarro was fast on his feet, maneuvering out of range. This was an all-action fight that just would not move beyond nil-nil. In an era of taekwondo when light, front-leg kicks are king, both

lads were firing power kicks off their back legs. It was entertaining stuff – regardless of the deep-frozen scoreboard. So, things went to golden point. Prior to the golden-point round starting, the referee – presumably as puzzled as the audience by the lack of score – called for test kicks on the PSS. The gear registered the kicks, so action recommended.

Female -57kg

Seconds in, Navarro tried a back kick, missed – and fired a picture-perfect round kick to the body for the point and the gold. Kim can surely take full pride in silver; this reporter cannot recall seeing such an entertaining but low-scoring match.

In the first semi-final of the evening, Jade “The Headhunter” Jones of Great Britain demolished an overmatched Ah-Reum Lee of Korea, 12-0, with a mixture of technique, conditioning and sheer ferocity. Hedaya Wahba of Egypt took out Rachelle Booth of Great Britain in a well-matched fight that ended 3-1 to Wahba. So: It would be a Jones or Wahba for the gold.

Cabrera won the bronze in a tough and entertaining match against Bensaleh, taking the medal 4-3.

Round 1 started with movement, kicks and war cries as both fighters commenced at a fast tempo, though Jones looked meaner

and more aggressive, dropping Wahba to the deck with both an ax kick and a back kick. Though neither kick scored, Jones picked up a point for Wahba’s two falls, ending the round 1-0. In the second, Jones piled on the pressure, forcing Wahba off the mats and trying to score with kicks up-close, but the Egyptian covered well. After a head-kick appeal by Jones’ coach failed, Wahba took a more aggressive approach: The two engaged in messy flurries as they battled to control the center of the mats. In the dying seconds

The first semi-final of the category was a civil war that pitted Roman Kuznetsov of Russia against compatriot Vladislav Larin; Larin took the fiercely-fought bout 10-8. In the second semi-final, Rio silver medalist Abdoulrazak Issoufou of Niger was taken out in a fiercely fought battle by Sajjad Mardani of Iran, 7-6 – leaving Larin and Madani to contest the gold. Mardani looked stylish and catlike from the outset, and scored with a punch almost immediately. Next, he unleashed a flurry of ax kicks which Larin covered well as both lads fought to control the center of the ring. Larin raised an ax; Mardani stuffed it by moving in and body checking. The feeling-out round ended 1-0 to the Iranian. In Round 2, Larin looked more aggressive and seized a point with a check kick to the body that shook the Iranian. Mardani Part 3 | Best of the Best 179


shot back with a punch and a crescent kick to the head - then a powerful round kick to the head and a serial attack drove Larin backward. The Iranian fans started cheering, as Mardani grabbed another point to the body. In Round 3, the fight could go either way. For the first time on the evening, the crowd started roaring. Mardani tried punch-round kick combinations. Larin shot back and Mardani could be seen acknowledging his opponent’s attacks. With one minute left on the clock, Mardani was 3-1. The Russian looked set to go into an all-out attack, but Mardani, unfazed, checked his offensive and picked up another point after Larin fell, raising his score to 4-1. Fifteen seconds remained as Mardani moved in close, leaving Larin with no space to kick. But there were still drama to be played out. In the last three seconds Larin

attacked, Mardani backpedaled out of the area and the Russian picked up a point to take the scoring to 2-4. Now two seconds remained. An appeal by the Russian coach provided a break from the action and the Russian and Iranian supporters in the crowd roared. The appeal was rejected. The fighters replaced their mouth guards, buckled on their head protectors and stepped up to the mark. The last two seconds were in play. Larin surged forward. Mardani kicked and retreated. And that was it. The battle ended 4-3 to the Iranian, leaving Larin with silver. In the bronze medal match, Kuznetsov fought a very smart, mobile game against Issoufou. The towering Rio silver medalist from Niger, looked slow and uninspired throughout; the Russian took the bronze with a 2-1 victory.

Female +67kg In the first semi-final, the towering Shuyin Zheng of China, the gold medalist in Rio, defeated Briseida Acosta of Mexico with a head kick in golden point. Rio bronze medalist Bianca Walkden of Great Britain scored an 8-4 victory over Team USA’s Jackie Galloway in a match marked by determined techniques from both fighters. The gold, then, would be won by either the Chinese or the Briton. Round 1 started. Walkden was giving away a slight height advantage to Zheng, but looked more determined, unwilling to let the Chinese girl dominate the center of the mats. Both looked nervy and tense; both were fighting to win. Neither managed to connect, however, and the first ended 0-0. As the second got underway, Walkden tried to cut under Zheng’s long, long legs – no score. After that flurry, she unleashed a

very fast ax kick to Zheng’s face, going 3-0 up. Walkden was clearly more mobile, firing combination attacks, while Zheng was more passive, relying on single techniques. The round ended 3-0 to the Briton, but against someone who is as dangerous with head kicks as Zheng, three points is not a comfortable margin.

that with a burst of round kicks that failed to score. Achab again stabbed forward as the clock counted down the last 30 seconds. Achab scored with a punch, 3-2; Lee returned fire with a kick to the body, leveling the score, 3-3. Ten seconds

of multiple round kicks, then tapped first blood with a twist kick to Lee’s body, going 1-0 up. In the round’s dying seconds, Lee evened the score at close range, 1-1.

remained. In a flurry of techniques that were too fast to call, the board went to 4-3, then 5-3 to Lee. The Korean won the gold, the Belgian the silver, but the real winners were the crowd, who had witnessed a duel of masters wielding speed and technique in a kaleidoscope of taekwondo.

In the third, Zheng came out looking more aggressively, surprising Walkden. The British fighter weathered the storm but picked up a warning for holding. Zheng’s machine-gun offensive, however, was very different from her customary game of sniper-like kicks fired from a stable stance. The Chinese athlete managed to claw back one point and as the seconds counted down, Zheng spun but did not kick; she was looking frustrated if not desperate. In the last 10 seconds, Walkden checked her opponent’s onrush with a side kick and defeated the Olympic gold medalist, 3-1, taking the gold and leaving Zheng with silver. In the bronze match, Galloway beat Acosta for the medal, 1-0.

Male -68kg The male -68kg is arguably the most competitive category in the game and the first semi was no disappointment: In one of the fiercest matches of the evening, Daehoon Lee of Korea took out Konstantin Minin of Russia, 2-1. In another very exciting match, the crowd-pleasing Alexey Denisenko of Russia was beaten by the very fast, very lively and very smart Jaouad Achab of Belgium, 5-4, in a match marked by tactical face offs interspersed by flurries of fast and furious techniques. The gold would be contested by Lee and Achab, two fighters who both know and respect each other. They are both excellent

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technicians with wide arsenals. While Lee has the height advantage, Achab is faster. From the opening bell, Lee got straight down to business with a lightning ax kick that Achab did well to bob away from. The Belgian countered with a running barrage

As the second got underway, Achab surged across the area with a round kick attack to the head, then a blitzkrieg of ax kicks and round kicks that drove Lee off the mats. Some superb techniques were on display as Lee counter-attacked; this match was simply too close to call. Lee scored to the body and Achab, in a remarkable show of sportsmanship, clapped it as the score went 2-1. Round 2 ended with Lee ahead. In the third, Achab fired an awesome high kick, Lee stumbled, and Achab’s coach appealed. It was rejected. Action resumed with yet another combination attack by Achab – multiple spins and a final back kick the drove Lee out of the area and levelled the score to 2-2. Achab followed

“That was very exciting, very fast, very even!” enthused WTF Technical Committee Chairman Kook-hyun Jung, who had watched the war unfold from ringside. “Until the finish, who knew who would win? Very dramatic!” The bronze medal match was the second Russian civil war of the evening as Minin took on Denisenko. The fight was lackluster for the first two rounds, but heated up in the last seconds – and went to golden point. Minin won the point and the bronze.

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AT H L E T E

interview Charlie Maddock

Great Britain

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Team GB’s ‘Pocket Rocket’ Strikes Gold Charlie Maddock struck gold in Baku - a city which has proven lucky for the up-and-coming Brit for the second time in her career

W

hen the smoke cleared at the just-ended 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final in Baku, Azerbaijan, the national team standing at the top of the medal rankings was Great Britain. That result was thanks to the efforts of three woman warriors: gold medal winners Jade “The Headhunter” Jones, Bianca “Queen Bee” Walkden and Charlie Maddock.

kick to the head, without putting her foot down: An extraordinary display of leg control, brilliant timing and spectacular technique. The scoreboard lit up, and the British girl was ahead, 4-0.

Charlie Maddock? Yes, Charlie Maddock. Her name is not as well-known as double Olympic gold medalist Jones or World Champion and Olympic bronze medalist Walkden, but her lack of recognition and experience did not stop the up-and-coming Maddock from beating the 2016 Rio Olympic champion in the female -49kg category, Korea’s So-hui Kim. The Kim-Maddock battle on Day 1 of the Grand-Prix proved to be a clash not just of fighters, but also of fighting styles. Kim is a master counter-kicker, with a wily tactical game and excellent footwork. Maddock, on the other hand, is an aggressive fighter, with a neverstep-back, take-no-prisoners style.

Speaking the day after her win at the Grand-Prix Final, the

‘Coming from kickboxing, I like to punch’

As the buzzer sounded for the first round, Maddock – totally unintimidated by Kim’s pedigree – surged out, fighting strongly and immediately pressuring her opponent. The Korean fought back gamely; she appeared to have decided that she would not let Maddock play her customary steamroller game. It was a lively round – but ended without a score. The second round kicked off with Maddock continuing to apply forward pressure. Kim reverted to her normal, evasive style, leaving Maddock to expend energy firing multiple kicks. But it was Kim, fighting more economically, who looked the more dangerous player: She failed to score by a whisker with two head shots. Round 2 ended scoreless. Round 3 continued in the same vein with plenty of kicking, but no contact and no points. Surely, at this stage, Kim’s superior experience and ring craft would pay off? Not necessarily. With just 12 seconds on the clock and the board empty, Maddock riposted a Kim attack with a reverse spinning turning kick to the head – then-swung her leg back into a round

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In the final seconds Kim, a cagey, tactical fighter, was powerless to respond: Her arsenal did not include the high-scoring techniques necessary to turn things round. The match ended with a well-deserved 4-0 victory for the British girl who is clearly charmed in Azerbaijan – her previous big win had been a gold medal at the 2015 European Games in Baku.

21-year-old from the English town of Stoke-onTrent proved pretty and petite, but fizzing with life: Her nickname is “Pocket Rocket” – a reference to small size and high energy. Combative energy is in Maddock’s DNA. She got her start in combat sports at the tender age of five at home: Her parents had met though martial arts, and her father was a kickboxing instructor. “I kind of fell in love with it,” she said. Years later, sensing his daughter’s potential, her father put her name forward for “Fighting Chance” – GB Taekwondo’s talent-scouting program. “Fighting Chance” plucks combat sports athletes not just from taekwondo, but also from karate, kickboxing and wushu to see if they have what it takes to join the grueling, elite training program at Great Britain’s medal factory – the National Taekwondo Center in Manchester. That application was three years ago: Maddock was invited to join the elite and has not looked back since. Naturally, her parents were delighted to hear the news of her victory in Baku. “Dad and Mum were buzzing, they were over the moon!” Maddock said. “Mum was screaming down the phone – it was a nice Christmas

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present!”

‘I like to wear the opponent down...being aggressive is good, but not all the time’

Maddock’s favorite techniques are her “check kick” – a stabbing side kick – and her punch. “Coming from kickboxing, I like to punch,” she said. She also favors head shots, but the gamewinning blow she deployed against Kim in Baku is a relatively new weapon in her arsenal. “The reverse turning kick is a funny one,” she said. “I have been working on it for ages, so it was nice to get it in the last seconds.” As a player, she considers aggression as one of her strongest qualities. “I like to press the match down and wear the opponent down to the point where she thinks she has no other option,” she said. “I am really strong and I am quite fast as well: Put the two together and they work really well.” However, she recognizes that now, in premium-level competition, aggression is not enough: She has to add a layer of sophistication to her game. “I am working on being manipulative, on controlling distance and being calm and composed,” she said. “Being aggressive is good – but not all the time.” Regarding future plans, her main aim is Tokyo 2020. In the shorter term, she hopes to qualify for the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships in Muju. She thanks her sponsor, Phil Wettem Say Scaffolding – “Without his sponsorship, some things would not have been achievable” – and the staff at Manchester, as well as her parents for bringing her up in combat sports. She also pays tribute to the golden girls of British taekwondo. “To be honest, I never knew what the sport entailed at first, but when I came to the first phase of ‘Fighting Chance’ then I saw that these girls are pretty good!” she said. “I want to achieve what Jade and Bianca have achieved.” Having joined GB Taekwondo’s two national heroines on the podium in Baku, she may be on her way to doing exactly that.

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AT H L E T E

interview Sajjad Mardani

I

t was the biggest shock of the 2016 Olympic taekwondo competition: The wipeout of the much-fancied Iranian Men’s Team. But just four months later, at the first premier-league taekwondo event to be held since Rio, one of that team’s top guns proved that the Iranians are back in business.

Iran

On Day 2 of the World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final in Baku, Iran’s Sajjad Mardani took out Rio silver medalist Abdoulrazak Issoufou of Niger in a fiercely fought semi-final battle, 7-6. That victory thrust him into the final against Russia’s Vladislav Larin.

Part 3 _ Best of the Best

Handsome Victory in Baku Buries Ugly Disaster in Rio Sajjad Mardani is all about self-improvement – and Tehran's super-kicking super model has emerged from Team Iran's Rio nightmare faster, stronger and better than ever

Game on. Mardani, looking stylish and catlike from the outset, scored with a punch almost immediately. Next, he unleashed a flurry of ax kicks which Larin covered well as both lads fought to control the center of the ring. Larin raised an ax; Mardani stuffed it by moving in and body checking. The feeling-out round ended 1-0 to the Iranian.

In the last three seconds, Larin attacked, Mardani backpedaled out of the area and the Russian picked up a point to take the board up to 2-4. Just two seconds remained on the clock. An appeal by the Russian coach provided a break from the action. The Russian and Iranian supporters in the crowd roared. The appeal was rejected. The fighters replaced their mouth guards, buckled on their head protectors and stepped up to the mark. The last two seconds were in play. Larin surged forward. Mardani counter-kicked and retreated. And that was that. The battle ended 4-3, with a gold medal for the man from Tehran. After the Olympics, the Grand-Prix Final medal earned by Mardani was not just a return to victorious form, but a potent injection of new confidence. “This proved that I could do my best and that my hard work had paid off,” he said. “Now, I can hold my head high.”

‘My hard work paid off. Now, I can hold my head high’ In Round 2, Larin looked more aggressive, seizing a point with a check kick to the body that shook Mardani. Mardani shot back with a punch and crescent kick to the head, then a powerful round kick to the head and a serial attack that drove Larin backward. The Iranian fans started cheering, as Mardani grabbed another point to the body. However, the point difference was minimal: In Round 3, the fight could still go either way. This tense dynamic was sensed by the audience: For the first time in the evening, the crowd started roaring. Action resumed. Mardani tried punch-round kick combinations. Larin shot back. Mardani nodded in what looked like acknowledgment of his opponent’s attacks. In actual fact, he had worked out his opponent’s tempo and technique. “I knew than what I needed to do,” he recalled. With one minute left on the clock, Mardani was 3-1 up. The Russian looked set to go into an all-out attack, but Mardani, unfazed, checked his offensive and picked up another point after Larin fell, raising his score to 4-1. Fifteen seconds remained as Mardani moved in close, leaving Larin no space to kick.

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But there were still drama to be played out.

So what happened in Rio?

Iran's "Three Musketeers" - Mardani and teammates Farzan Ashourzadeh Fallah and Mahdi Khodabakhshi - had been among taekwondo’s strongest medal favorites. When the smoke cleared, all three were empty-handed. Asked about the drubbing the Team Iran’s men’s squad suffered – an issue taekwondo pundits have been discussing ever since – Mardani went quiet. "It’s a tough one,” he said softly. “Let me think about it.” After a while he composed himself. “For sure – 100 percent! – the athletes you expect to perform the best are the ones you study more and analyze,” he resumed. “We were the favorites, so I believe people studied us.” The stress was particularly colossal for heavyweight Mardani, who, fought on the last day of the competition. “I was under a ton of pressure heading into my day as the two favorites [his two team mates] had been unsuccessful,” he said. “That fact that I was unable to win as well was so painful. We were in disbelief.” Since then Mardani has been on an obsessive self-improvement drive. “You have to adjust and change and adapt – the person who remains the same is not successful in any sport,” he said. “I have tried to focus on changing my game.” The Grand-Prix Final gold suggests his efforts have borne fruit. “I have never seen Mardani look as good as he did in Baku,” said an Part 3 | Best of the Best 187


impressed Mike McKenzie, the WTF’s TV commentator. Now 28, Mardani started taekwondo after seeing his mother and sister practice. “As soon as I saw taekwondo, I fell in love with it,” he said. As a fighter, he reckons his strengths are his nonspecialized approach to the game. “I believe I am well-rounded,” he said. His favorite technique is the head attack, but he does not name any specific kick. “The leg goes from here to there!” he said, gesturing from earth to sky. Asked to name his favorite fighter, his response is telling. “I like Jade Jones,” he said. Why so? “She believes in herself.” Unlike some of the Iranian athletes who live, eat and breathe taekwondo, taekwondo and only taekwondo, Mardani has a side job: fashion modeling.

‘In sport, one person wins, one loses. We look forward to tomorrow’

And that should surprise absolutely nobody. As well as boasting the height of the heavyweight and the toned physique of the pro athlete, Mardani is far and away the most wickedly handsome devil in the game. “I like modeling, I like being on billboards,” he said. “I love it! One day I want to go out and be a full time model.” He thought for a second, then added, “And if I get the chance to be a model, it would be a great opportunity for taekwondo, too!” For now, though, his goals focus on 2020. Still, he is keeping his eyes on the near term. “Obviously, the goal is Tokyo, but I am focusing on day-by-day and only looking to the next competition,” he said. Mardani’s focus on constant improvement suggests that he might be better advised to ditch modeling and become a motivational speaker. “My goal is to show anyone around me that hard work pays off,” he said. “I want to influence the people who surround me to always believe in themselves: It does not matter how difficult life becomes, you always want to achieve more – day by day you get smarter and stronger.” Despite his relative youth, Mardani is already thinking about his heritage. “Sajjad Mardani is a human like everybody else, but I have been blessed by God with so many things,” he said. “The main thing is to make an impression, and to inspire others.” Armed with this attitude, Team Iran’s Rio shipwreck may even prove to be a long-term positive. “In sport, one person wins, one person loses: We did not perform as well as we wanted, but that’s life,” Mardani mused. “We look forward to tomorrow.”

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Part 3 _ Best of the Best

2016 WTF World Taekwondo Team Championships

Battle Royale in Baku The rough-and-tumble, rock ’em, sock ’em, Team Championships are customarily taekwondo’s fieriest fighting format. The 'battle of the nations’ that took place in Baku at year’s end was no disappointment

– with its pre-battle huddles, verbal encouragement and group victory celebrations – customarily ignites far greater spectator emotion than the slowerpaced, more tactical individual game.

Defending champions China and Azerbaijan retained their titles in, respectively, the female and male divisions of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Team Championships at the Sarhadchi Sports Olympic Center in Azerbaijan’s capital over Dec. 12-13, while Korea took gold in the experimental mixed gender division. Silvers were won by Korea in both male and female divisions. Bronzes in the female division went to Russia and Turkey, and in the male division, to Belgium and Turkey. In the mixed gender category, silver went to Russia, and bronzes to Belgium and the United States. Although the crowd was smaller than that which had attended the World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final from Dec. 9-10, it was far noisier. The team championships are taekwondo’s fastest, most furious competitive format. As a “battle of the nations,” the team competition

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Location: Baku, Azerbaijan Date: Dec. 12-13, 2016 Attendees: 7 male teams, 8 female teams, 4 mixed gender teams (89 athletes), 77 officials

The first round is a counterpart-versuscounterpart format, with the five team members, from lightest to heaviest, each fighting their opposite number. The tempo accelerates in the second and third rounds, fought under a tag-team format: Fighters explode across the mats in a series of rapid-fire substitutions, generating a whirlwind spectacle of all-out-attacking taekwondo. In the female category, 2015 defending champions China took on Korea. Unlike bouts earlier in the day, the first round was slow-paced, with the two teams looking well matched, though China had a height advantage. The last (i.e. the heaviest) player on Team China was 2016 Olympic

gold medalist Shuyin Zheng, a towering fighter with a tight defense and a spear-like front leg. Round 1 ended 1-1. The second round inaugurated the hightempo tag-team format. The pace picked up. Korea went 2-1 up, then China played Zheng – to no avail: The score stayed the same. Her substitute picked up a point to take the board to 2-2. These two elite teams were literally negating each other, in contrast to the pyrotechnics both had detonated earlier in the competition. In the last seconds, China found the range, ending the round 4-2 up. But the championship title was still in play as Round 3 got underway. China extended its lead with some crafty twisting leg play to go to 5-2. Korea started playing with more urgency, grabbing a point for 5-3. Now the substitutions were coming thick and fast from both coaches with Zheng being bought into play, plying her ax kick. Korea

attacked with punches – no score. Then Korea won one back, 5-4. China quickly grabbed another 6-4. Zheng was played again in the last seconds. The score ended 6-4 with victory for Team China – who hugged their coach in delight. In the male category, Team Korea was fielding a fast, high-scoring team which had earlier eviscerated Belgium, winning by 30-point gap. As in the female category, the Korean lads found themselves facing off against the defending champion. The Azeri homeboys fielded the tallest team in the competition – based around the awesome cadre of Olympic gold medal heavyweight Radik Isaev and the phenomenal Milad Beigi Harchegani. The Azeris were formidable: They had earlier knocked Turkey out by 30-point difference, electrifying the hometown crowd. In the preliminary round, Korea had to grab some points before the substitution Part 3 | Best of the Best 191


rounds, when Beigi Harchegani and Isaev would be given full play. However, Round 1 proved even-handed, with the score ending 1-0 thanks to a kick from a relaxedlooking Beigi Harchegani. As in the female final, it had been a disappointing feelingout round. The action heated up in Round 2 with a game Korean opponent whirling in against

Isaev – and scoring from in-close on the Azeri giant. Isaev was swiftly substituted; the board was 1-1. A head shot from the Azeris took the board to 4-1, then Beigi Harchegani reappeared, exercising his front leg with dangerous-looking kicks and the crowd raising the roof, chanting “Mi-lad! Mi-lad!” Isaev came back on and landed, taking the score to go 5-1. The Koreans

were looking increasing disadvantaged by the big Azeri boys. The second ended 6-1.

performance by Korea, but the Azeri Team looks unstoppable in this format.

In Round 3, the match could have gone either way, but the decimation of Team Korea began when Beigi Harchegani landed a round kick to the head: 9-1. Isaev – who had looked frustrated earlier – now seemed to be enjoying himself. Beigi Harchegani came on again, and raised the

Considerable curiosity surrounded the new mixed-gender format. In this, being tried for the first time at the World Team Championships, three male and two female players compete as a team – though the combats are only male-male and femalefemale; there is no mixed-gender fighting. Thus, the only real difference between mixed gender and regular team competition is that if a player from Team A is fighting well, Team B can force that player off the mats by substituting a player of the opposite gender: As there is no mixed-gender fighting, the player from Team A also has to leave the floor. This adds another tactical nuance to the game – one used to good effect by Team Russia, which used it to remove the dangerous Jackie Galloway from the mats in the last half minute of the semi-final clash. Four teams – Belgium, Korea, Russia and the United States – were in contention in the experimental format. In the finals, a fresher Team Korea faced Team Russia, which had just a five-minute break after their semifinal victory over Team USA. Both teams were fielding young guns rather than established, name players; neither team had a clear height advantage.

local score to 12-1. Korea managed one point 12-2, but seemed unable to break through the Azeri defenses with the higher scoring techniques they needed. Again, Beigi Harchegani landed a crescent kick in the clinch to take the score to 15-3. Isaev came back on and the board climbed to 16-3, then 16-4. Beigi Harchegani scored to the body 17-4 and dropped his man, bringing the local lads' score to 18-4. 192 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Now the Azeris were on fire, taking the board to 19, then 20. One Azeri player signaled furiously to his coach to keep him on the mats, as Beigi Harchegani was played yet again. In the last 30 seconds, the score was 21-5. With a series of spinning back kicks, Korea tried to land a big technique, but Isaev came on to control the match to the end. The final score was 21-5 to Azerbaijan. It had been a brave

The first round started at a face pace; Korea went 3-1 up with a jumping ax kick but Russia won a point back after Korea was penalized for grabbing. Korea raised their score with body kicks, ending the round 6-3. There were some fast substitutions as the tag-team segment got underway. The Russians seemed to be getting their game on, and raising the board to 4-6. The action was rough, with Korean players visiting the mats. Round 2 ended 5-6: Team Korea had not scored a single point. Part 3 | Best of the Best 193


MVPs and Awards Female MVP: Shuyin Zheng (China) Male MVP: Milad Beigi Harchegani (Azerbaijan)

Best Coaches: Jin Mien Guan

(China) and Jae-hyun Shin (Korea)

So, there was everything to play for going into the third. It started with fierce combat, the Russian fighters looking slightly better conditioned than their opponents, with Yulia Miyuts proving a tower of strength for the Russian team as she had in the semifinals: She evened the score 6-6. But now 194 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Team Korea showed its quality, scoring with greater kick accuracy, going to 7-6, then to 8-6. A monkey kick scored one point for Russia – but was immediately disallowed. In the last 10 seconds, Korea substituted and ended it with a score of 9-7 after a very evenly fought match.

Ringside pundits were enthusiastic about the two days of action. “Fantastic – very exciting!” said WTF Technical Committee Chairman Kook-hyun Jung. “The athletes keep kicking continuously until the finish, they don’t wait – they kick and kick again.”

Best Referees: Guo Li (China), Elizaveta Tarasevich (Russia),

Kambiz Mohiyeddini (Germany) Special Award: WTF Referee

Committee Chairman Chakir Chelbat

He added, “This is much better than the individuals!” The medal and MVP ceremonies ended five days of top-flight taekwondo action in the Azeri capital. It also dropped the curtain on the 2016

fighting season. January is a rest month for WTF athletes, so action will resume in February, as the sport’s elite fighters gear up for the top fixture of 2017, the World Championships in Muju, Korea, in June. Part 3 | Best of the Best 195


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3RD WTF

Gala Awards On a night of glitz and glamor in the ‘City of Winds,’ the WTF let its hair down to honor its best and brightest – while also raising USD60,000 for refugee taekwondo

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The WTF put on the ritz as it held its 3rd Annual Gala Awards on Dec. 11 in the ballroom annex of Baku’s Badamdar Hotel – and also raised over USD60,000 for its charity initiative, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, or THF. As part of efforts to make the federation fully athlete-centric, the WTF Gala Awards offer taekwondo’s elite sportsmen and women the opportunity to network and relax in evening wear rather than tracksuits and in luxury surroundings rather than sweaty warmup zones - while dining on five-star hotel dishes rather

than high-protein energy bars. In an opening address, WTF President Chungwon Choue discussed how the “World Taekwondo Family” enjoys both good times and bad times together, and how its humanitarian initiatives for refugees and displaced people around the world differentiate it from other sports organizations. He congratulated the Azeri Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov – who attended the Gala Awards – on the country’s only gold medal in the Rio Olympics, won for Azerbaijan by Radik Isaev – one of the award

nominees. Choue also shared the news that Djibouti had recently joined the WTF as a full member. He also commented on the amended rules and regulations, to be applied from 2017. “We will have a new taekwondo competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games,” he said. “I believe it will showcase taekwondo as the ‘best of the best’ combat sports in the world.” WTF Vice President and Azerbaijan Taekwondo Federation President Kamaladdin Heydarov received a

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special award from Choue. Heydarov thanked the WTF for holding its year-end events – the GrandPrix Final, World Taekwondo Team Championships and Gala Awards – in Baku. Minister Rahimov was also given a plaque of appreciation. “It is a high privilege to be here with you and we are proud to host this event,” Rahimov said, noting that Azerbaijan “is a land of fire and a country of sports.” A local warbler then took to the

stage and, against a kaleidoscopic backdrop, letting rip with a series of local hits and lounge classics like “Georgia on my Mind.” The crowd amused themselves mugging for the roving camera, then got into the swing of things when a songstress appeared and delivered a pair of soulful Azeri numbers which had the audience exercising their clapping muscles. Then it was time for the awards. 2016 WTF Female Player of the Year award went to Great Britain’s double

Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones. “I would just like to thank everyone who supported me – the support is phenomenal,” she said. “We train so hard, we are constantly getting pushed and getting the best training. Thank you everyone!” 2016 WTF Male Player of the Year award went to Jordan’s Ahmad Abughaush, who delivered his country its first-ever Olympic medal in Rio – gold. He thanked the president and members of the WTF, adding, “I am so proud to be here with you, with

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2016 WTF Female Player of the Year

2016 WTF Male Player of the Year

2016 WTF Referee of the Year (Women)

2016 WTF Referee of the Year (Men)

Jade Jones (Great Britain)

Ahmad Abughaush (Jordan)

Maria Merkouri (Georgia)

Song-chul Kim (Canada)

2016 WTF Coach of the Year

2016 Best Kick of the Year

2016 WTF MNA of the Year

Special Award

Reza Mehmandoust (Azerbaijan)

Cheick Sallah Cisse (Cote d’Ivoire)

Azerbaijan

the referees, coaches and players.” 2016 WTF Referee of the Year (Women) award went to Maria Merkouri of Georgia. “Thanks to all of you,” she said. “And thanks to my dear friends the referees – you are the best!” 2016 WTF Referee of the Year (Men) award went to Song-chul Kim of Canada. “I am really honored to accept this award, it means a lot to me and I would like to say thank you to all of the taekwondo family for supporting me,” he said. 198 198 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

2016 WTF Member National Association of the Year award was won by Azerbaijan – a decision that was clearly popular with the crowd. The Best Kick of the Year award was won by Cote d’Ivoire’s Cheick Sallah Junior Cisse (who did not attend) for his last-second jump spinning heel kick to the head of Great Britain’s Lutalo Mohammad – which won him the gold in the -80kg category in Rio. 2016 WTF Coach of the Year award was won by Azerbaijan’s Reza Mehmandoust. He noted that his

Kamaladdin Heydarov (Azerbaijan)

team had great support and thanked Choue and all persons attending. The last event of the gala awards was the THF Challenge. Branded “Break Boards, Change Lives” the event was rapid fire, with various VIPs being invited to the stage to break a board, pledge a donation and challenge another person present. Among those who took the challenge and made donations were: Rahimov and Azerbaijan Taekwondo Federation President Part 3 | Best of the Best 199 199


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and WTF Vice President Kamaladdin Heydarov, who pledged USD30,000 on behalf of Azerbaijan’s National Olympic Committee, the Azerbaijan Taekwondo Federation and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Youth and Sport; Choue, who pledged USD10,000 on behalf of himself and the WTF staff; Russian Taekwondo Federation President and WTF Council Member Anatoly Terekhov who pledged USD10,000; WTF Secretary General Hoss Rafaty, who pledged USD5,000; and WTF Referee Committee Chairman Chakir Chelbat who pledged USD4,500 on 200 200 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

behalf of himself and the referees. In all, over USD60,000 was raised for the THF. Following the awards, and as dinner was being served, an impromptu "Happy Birthday" was sung by all present for WTF chief Choue. There may have been some sore heads on the following morning as the federation returned to business as usual: The 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Team Championships kicked off at 10:00 AM on Dec. 12 at the Sardhadchi Olympic Sports Complex for their two-day run. Part 3 | Best of the Best 201 201


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PART 4

Around the WTF

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International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven was awarded a 10th-dan honorary black belt by WTF President Chungwon Choue on April 8, 2016, in recognition of his outstanding support for the sport of taekwondo. The award ceremony took place at a reception for the 1st WTF President CupEuropean Region, which was held at the Telekom Dom in Bonn, Germany. Sir Philip was presented with the belt following a period of close collaboration between the IPC and the WTF.

The WTF was recognized by the IPC in 2013 and has worked with the organization to promote para taekwondo around the world, in line with international best practice. In 2015, Sir Philip and the IPC awarded para taekwondo a place on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games sports program. “We are delighted to award Sir Philip Craven with the 10th-dan honorary black belt," said Choue. "The WTF has worked closely with the IPC over the last few years and Sir Philip has played a major role in

helping us to develop para taekwondo." He added, "Getting para taekwondo into the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games was a huge honor and we will continue to work with the IPC to grow our sport around the world.� After receiving the belt, Sir Philip praised the WTF for the ongoing development of para taekwondo and spoke of his sense of unity with the taekwondo family. Prior to joining the reception, Sir Philip had welcomed the delegates from the WTF to the headquarters of the IPC in Bonn.

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Sir Philip Craven Awarded Honorary 10th-Dan Black Belt With para taekwondo being on the program of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the IPC president has been honored with taekwondo's highest rank

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C R Ra ha ul tio ng e na es le :

So, there is much at stake.

all points scored immediately visible to the crowd, while obviating human error in judging. Referee training and education was massively upgraded and the Instant Video Replay system was introduced. Thanks to these developments, taekwondo was controversy-free in London 2012 and Rio 2016 and is now a firm fixture on the Summer Games program.

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Game Changers 1: Taekwondo was ‘Fair and Transparent’ in Rio; in Tokyo, Taekwondo Must ‘Dazzle and Excite’ With Rio successfully completed, the WTF is looking forward to a competition in Tokyo that is not only fair and transparent, but which also dazzles and excites How to upgrade the game? This is arguably the biggest question facing taekwondo as it enters the long cycle of preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. Fortunately, there are precedents, as, for 208 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

much of its history, the WTF has been introducing changes and innovations. Following the 2008 Beijing Olympics – plagued by controversies over scoring and refereeing – the sport’s future on the Olympic program was in jeopardy. The

WTF instituted a reform drive. The mission was clear: improve the transparency and fairness of the game. The key breakthrough to realize this was the introduction of the electronic protector and scoring system (PSS). The PSS makes

But there have been drawbacks. The PSS – like all technologies – is imperfect. It has also altered the way the game is played: With the power component removed, taekwondo has shifted from knockout mode to point-scoring mode. This has resulted in a cleft between “old school” taekwondo – the powerhouse contact sport of the past – and “new school” taekwondo – the modern, tactical game, which prioritizes front foot kicks and favors tall, skinny players ("tallkwondo"). Even many exponents of “new school” say they prefer “old school” techniques and fighters, who tend to be head-hunters and spin-kickers. But “new school” dominates the medal tables. Even elite exponents of “old school” taekwondo – who include some of the most crowd-pleasing fighters in the game, such as Moldova’s Aaron

Cook and Turkey’s Servet Tazegul – find it hard to win with their spectacular styles, given the current rules and gear. This is not to say that Rio was dull: In fact, there were some classic finals – such as Jordan’s Ahmad Abughaush versus Russia’s Alexey Denisenko clash, and Great Britain’s Jade Jones versus Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez duel – and incredible crowd support. But with the 2016 Games over, a fouryear window of opportunity has opened for the WTF to make changes and re-inject spectacle back into the game. The aim is for taekwondo at Tokyo 2020 to be not only "fair and transparent," but also to "dazzle and excite." Indeed, "dazzle and excite" are to be the new keywords for the WTF as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle gets underway. If that happens, it will open the way for taekwondo to be not just the hugely successful participation sport which it is – the WTF has 80 million members globally – but also a global spectator sport. Once crowds increase, global media will get in on the action and elite fighters and teams will benefit from enriched sponsorship opportunities.

The game-changing process got underway when the WTF invited some 30 of its top coaches and executives to a five-day brainstorm in Seoul for the WTF Coach Seminar on Oct. 17-21, 2016. “The Rio Olympics was a continuation of transparent and successful taekwondo competition from London 2012 and we need to prepare for the coming Tokyo 2020," said WTF President Chungwon Choue in his opening speech. "In order to make a better sport, it is very important to hear opinions from you in order to make the best game," he added. “The coaches can ask questions of the WTF on the policy side," said WTF Director General Jin-bang Yang. "This is the first time we have given them a platform to speak for themselves." The coaching seminar is one component of the WTF Coach Forum, which took place at the same time and same location, with members of the WTF Technical and Development Committee giving presentations and holding dialogs with the coaches. On Oct. 20, having exchanged ideas and elicited feedback from the coaches, the committee is to present the proposed changes to top-level WTF executives – the organization’s president, secretary general, director generals and Continental Union presidents. Part 4 | Around the WTF 209 209


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Committee on desirable changes to the game as the WTF takes its first steps on the path to Tokyo 2020. The four major categories of discussion were: • Competition rules; • Systems (such as rankings and seedings);

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Game Changers 2: Post-Rio, WTF Brain Trust Huddles to Ensure Sport ‘Dazzles and Excites’ in Tokyo 2020 Emotions ran high and dialog was unrestrained as the world’s top coaches thrashed out ways to upgrade the game and add further excitement and greater spectacle Lively discussions took place as the WTF offered the world’s leading taekwondo coaches a voice in the future direction of the sport at the WTF Coach Seminar. The aims of the seminar, which invited the coaches of the top 30 taekwondo nations from across the world, and ran from Oct. 17-21, 2016, in central Seoul, were twofold: To share international best practice in taekwondo coaching and related national 210 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

team issues; and to elicit feedback on WTF policy and the direction that the sport of taekwondo is taking.

at the week-long workshop. “That is what we are going to do from now on, so this workshop and forum is very important.”

“We have to innovate rules and regulations and the Protector and Scoring System (PSS) and everything: I really want to make our sport one of the most interesting and dynamic – and of course fair and transparent,” WTF President Chungwon Choue said during a Q&A with attendees

Discussion was open, lively – and sometimes contentious. “There have been a number of subjects discussed, and as it is about the future, it is emotive!” said attendee WTF Technical and Development Committee Member Gary

• Image of the game (such as uniform designs and sport presentation); and • PSS Hall. “People have opinions and views that they believe will take the sport forward.” The strong views being aired were unsurprising given the level of talent and experience represented at the seminar. “These are superstar coaches – the Iranian who made today’s Iranian taekwondo! The French woman who is the chairperson of the coaching committee and a symbol of female leadership in taekwondo!” said WTF Director General Jin-bang Yang. “And we also have some coaches from small countries with strong teams – like Belgium and Serbia – to ask them about their recipes for success.” The coaches undertook dialogs with the WTF Technical and Development

In a Q&A session between Choue, visiting WTF Continental Union presidents and the attending coaches, issues raised included: The professionalization of referees; the possibility of adding more weight categories and/or a team competition, in addition to the current individual matches, to the Olympic program; and the further development of, and investment in, the PSS. As regards the PSS, the key goal is for the PSS to change in response to the requirements of the sport, rather than vice versa. The coaches also presented to each other on issues as varied as training center establishment and management and talent scouting programs; coaching philosophies;

and teaching strategies for different categories of players, such as juniors and females. “The big purpose is that the WTF has been trying to establish new coach education programs and certification programs for so long but it has never succeeded: We tried a couple of times a long time ago!” said Yang. “At this time, the WTF is trying to set up coach certification programs from the grassroots level to the very top, so this is the starting program: top-down, not bottom-up.” The attendees also got the chance to present their wish lists to WTF authorities – eliciting what kind of policies the coaches want from the WTF in terms of conveniences in championship management, etc. Having elicited feedback from the coaches, the Technical and Development Committee presented a range of proposed changes to the game – in the four above categories – to the WTF’s Executive Committee at the end of the week. Those changes that were agreed upon by the technical and executive committees were presented to the WTF Council and WTF General Assembly in Burnaby, Canada, in November 2016. Part 4 | Around the WTF 211 211


C R Ap ha ule pr nge ov s al :

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Game Changers 3: Rule Changes Approved to Ensure Taekwondo ‘Dazzles and Excites’ in Tokyo 2020 The WTF's 27th General Assembly approved rule changes designed to bring excitement back to taekwondo. The new rules take effect from Jan. 1, 2017...

and on PSS functionality. He broke down four key issues that the rule changes address. Firstly, taekwondo needs more action, so must encourage offensive players. Secondly, there are currently too many stoppages, mid-game. Thirdly, the introduction of the PSS and IVR have improved officiating – but even so, officiating needs to be improved further. Lastly, taekwondo needs to be easier for the general public and TV viewers to understand. New competition rules for taekwondo kyorugi were proposed to and accepted by the WTF 27th General Assembly, held at the Delta Hotel Burnaby Conference Center on Nov. 15, 2016. Speaking at the WTF Council meeting the day previously, WTF President Chungwon Choue had said that now that taekwondo had proven that it is “fair and transparent,” it is time to upgrade the sport so that it 212 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

“dazzles and excites.” Proposed changes to WTF Competition Rules and Interpretations were presented by WTF Director General Jin-bang Yang. He explained that there had been an exhaustive consultative process. In October, some 30 elite coaches from around the world had discussed rule changes with each other, as well as with the heads of the Technical and Development

Committee, Coaches Committee and Referee Committee, and with the WTF Council. Yang noted that while taekwondo at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games had been widely praised by the general public, the media and the sports community, many members of the global taekwondo family had complained. Their complaints largely focused on the over-use of front-leg kicks

In terms of point allocations, an extra point was proposed for kicks to the body, from one to two points. This, it is hoped, will encourage active attacks and help shorter players take on taller fighters. Matches are currently ended if there is a 12-point gap between players; it was proposed this be changed to 20-point gaps (to accommodate the extra points for body kicks).

It was proposed that the kyong-go (minus half-point) penalty be eradicated, leaving only gam-jeom (minus one point). This proposal is designed to make up for the extra points for body kicks, and to simplify penalties. Ten gam-jeoms will result in loss by penalty. Wider sanctions were proposed for various front leg actions, such as leg blocks, kicking the opponent’s kicks, and belowthe-waist kicks. These proposals are designed to favor attacking tactics and offensive players. To make the game more continuous, it was proposed that penalties be removed for pushing – so allowing players to push and kick, thereby encouraging combination attacks. Those pushed will – if they fall to the ground – suffer a penalty. This, it is hoped, will encourage athletic balance. However, pushing an opponent over the boundary, or pushing an opponent while he/she is kicking, remain penalized.

It was proposed that the “golden point” round be reduced from two minutes to one. To simplify the game and obviate stopstart game flow, it was proposed that coaches no longer be allowed to appeal video replays for face kicks. However, it was proposed that there be an increase in video quotas: One quota will be given per coach, per match. All the proposals presented were approved by the General Assembly. The new rules will be tentatively applied from January 2017; full application will become effective at the World Championships in Muju in June 2017.

The fully revised WTF Competition Rules and Interpretations are available to view online at: www. worldtaekwondofederation.net/rules/ Part 4 | Around the WTF 213 213


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‘3 Events, 2 Cities, 1 Vision:’ GB to Host 2019 Worlds, Plus GPs In an upgraded bidding process, Abidjan, Chiba, London, Manchester, Moscow, Sydney and Velje chosen to host WTF’s flagship events through 2020

host for the 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final and 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Team Championships – becoming the first city in Africa to host the events. After Cote d’Ivoire won its firstever Olympic gold medal in any sport in taekwondo at Rio 2016, taekwondo has become hugely popular in the country. Sydney, Australia, will become the first destination in Oceania to host any global WTF event as it will hold the 2019 WTF World Taekwondo Cadet Championships. However, the city has a strong legacy in the sport, having hosted the taekwondo Olympic competition at the 2000 Summer Games. Chiba, Japan, will stage the 2019 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Series in the same city where the taekwondo competitions of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will take place. The event is expected to be a key visibility raiser for the sport in Japan in the pre-Olympic year. Moscow, Russia was selected as the host city for the 2018 WTF World Taekwondo

Great Britain won the hosting rights for the 2019 WTF World Taekwondo Championships and two other prestigious tourneys, while the rights for eight other WTF events over the next four years were awarded to five cities across four continents. The selections were made by the WTF Council, meeting in Burnaby, Canada, ahead of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo 214 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Junior Championships, which took place from Nov. 16-20. Manchester, Great Britain, was awarded the WTF’s flagship 2019 World Championships, beating out Houston, United States, to secure the rights. The decision was made in a secret vote by council members. The council determined that Manchester offered the most attractive bid; the city was also awarded the 2018 WTF World

Grand-Prix Series, the 2019 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final and the 2019 WTF World Taekwondo Team Championships. Velje, Denmark, was chosen as the host of the 2020 WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships. The historic selections are attributed to the federation’s newly launched bidding process, which has been designed to increase dialogue and collaboration with potential hosts all the way through the bidding and selection process. “Today’s historic selections of so many world-class host cities demonstrate how strong the future of taekwondo is,” said WTF President Chungwon Choue. “I am delighted that we successfully established this new bidding process, which has dramatically improved our communication and collaboration with potential hosts. Today we have seen the benefits of this new process as we have seven iconic cities which I am sure will stage fantastic events.”

As part of the new bidding process’ introductory phase, the WTF convened a Partnership Workshop in June in the Olympic capital, Lausanne, with more than 40 participants from worldwide cities, WTF Member National Associations and international sport organizations. When the first phase of the bid process was opened in July, 29 parties from cities all around the world expressed their willingness to join the competitive bid process. The rejuvenated bidding process also included an evaluation phase, in which the Bid Evaluation Commission – consisting of an IOC member and experts from academia and the broadcasting sector – thoroughly examined all the bid files and documents to shortlist finalists. This commission was also tasked to provide advice to the WTF Council members to help them make informed decisions. The WTF’s next Extraordinary Council Meeting will be held in Thailand in March, 2017.

Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final, while the Copper Box Arena, which was used for Olympic competitions at London 2012, will be a venue for the 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Series. “This is three events, two cities, one vision,” said Operation Director of GB Taekwondo Steve Flynn, as he outlined his country’s ambitious, dual-city, multi-event bid. Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire was selected as the Part 4 | Around the WTF 215


Part 4 _ Around the WTF

WTF Pow Wows, Votes on Agenda at 27th General Assembly in Canada

On the eve of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships, the WTF held its 27th General Assembly at the Delta Hotel Burnaby Conference Center on Nov. 15. WTF President Chungwon Choue first thanked Taekwondo Canada, the Organizing Committee of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships and Tourism Burnaby for their efforts; Burnaby is the host of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships, which ran from Nov. 16-20, 2016. 216 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Choue then introduced Member National Association presidents who had been elected since the last general assembly, in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2015. Noting the success of the Rio 2016 Olympics, he announced that two taekwondo athletes, Jordan’s Ahmad Abughaush and Cote d’Ivorie’s Cheick Sallah Cisse had just been honored at the ANOC Awards 2016, held in Doha, Qatar. Choue briefed attendees on ongoing humanitarian efforts. The city of Burnaby and the Taekwondo Humanitarian

Foundation, or THF, are to sign an MOU on jointly assisting refugees. And China-based Huamin Charity Foundation has pledged the THF USD200,000 each year, over the next three years, to fund the THF’s refugeeempowerment activities in Jordan, Rwanda and elsewhere. Members of the Burnaby OC were then awarded commemorative plaques. The first agenda items were the approval of minutes from the previous General

Assembly. WTF Auditor Ali Sagirkaya asked attendees to approve the WTF’s Financial Report and Auditor’s Report. Both were approved. The Operation Report was also approved.

One change proposed was that, given the size of the WTF, its Expansion Committee is no longer necessary. An executive body will replace it, to advise the WTF at the highest level.

Mark Kauffman, Sports Manager of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games OC, presented an overview of the Games. Taekwondo sold 93 percent of its tickets and there were no delays over four days of competition. The field of play was clear, and taekwondo was congratulated by other sports for using only one court. The WTF Demonstration Team and Brazilian samba troupes added color and excitement in match downtime. The legacy of Rio taekwondo is a transfer of skills, technologies and equipment, so upgrading Brazilian sport management. Kauffman also presented key learnings for future Olympics.

MNAs were also required to adopt, or prepare a road map for the adoption of the digital Global Membership System (GMS). MNAs must also complete annual WTF member surveys. Another alteration is for the promotion of para taekwondo by MNAs. MNAs must also adopt dispute resolution mechanisms.

Amendment proposals to WTF Statutes, notably related to technical updates, and material changes that require actions by members or MNAs, which had been discussed by the WTF Council over three different meetings, were presented.

All proposals were passed. The full text of the revised statutes will be posted on the WTF website in due course. The next item was a major amendment proposal on WTF Competition Rules and Interpretations presented by WTF Director General Jin-bang Yang. (See separate stories on this important development for the sport on preceding pages.) Changes were also proposed and passed for the WTF Para Taekwondo and DeafTaekwondo Classification Rules and

Regulations. All were passed. Enactments were proposed for para taekwondo competition and poomsae competition, with the aim of making the competitions both safer and more exciting. WTF Council Member Koos Engelbrecht briefed on para taekwondo, with an emphasis on the procedures for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. He also gave guidelines on how MNAs should implement para taekwondo programs and updated the assembly on upcoming para tournaments in the run-up to Tokyo 2020. THF staffers presented on the vision, progress and plans of the World Taekwondo Cares Program and the THF. At Burnaby, the THF inaugurated the “THF Challenge” – a viral, broad-breaking campaign – as a global fund-raising initiative. In the final business of the day, Choue announced that Djibouti had been made a new member of the WTF. The next General Assembly will be held on June 23, 2017, in Muju, Korea.

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‘Pee is Golden!’ Juniors Learn During Anti-Doping Campaign

in return for fun handouts, such as a urine sample bottle emblazoned with the legend “#pee is gold.” Other 100 athletes visited the booth. “This is the prime age for athletes,” said Jason Francis of CCES. “They are now becoming aware of the different supplements and different information out there, so to be able to get them the right information at this age is very important so that they can make informed decisions going forward.” The second program that ran alongside the championships was a seminar for all WTF MNAs in attendance, run by the World Antidoping Agency, or WADA. The WADA seminar covered the latest developments in anti-doping, and the changing requirements of the code. 2015 was a “year of adjustment,” 2016 was a “year of implementation” with WADA helping International Federations to comply with the code; and 2017 will be a year in

The WTF is upgrading anti-doping education and information campaigns, and in 2017, for the first time, will include these programs at the WTF World Taekwondo Cadet Championships, to be held this autumn.

Chungwon Choue. “Last year, for the first time, we ran anti-doping education at our World Junior Championships, and this year, also for the first time, we will be including similar programs at our World Cadet Championships.”

“Anti-doping is central to fair play in sport, and we are ensuring that our athletes are educated in these important protocols as early as possible,” said WTF President

During the WTF World Junior Championships, held in Burnaby, Canada, in November 2016, two separate information programs were run: One for

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which changes are “mandatory,” the MNAs were told. “There is a need in the new code for an increase in education,” said WADA Standards & Harmonization Manager Ilaria Baudo. “These junior championships are the perfect opportunity: Educate your

athletes at the young level.” The WTF’s first educational programs for athletes took place during the 2011 World Taekwondo Championships in Gyeongju, Korea, but until Burnaby in 2016, that campaign - and subsequent programs were only for seniors.

athletes, and one for Member National Associations, or MNAs. An outreach program for athletes, coaches and related parties was run by the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport, or CCES. A booth was established at the training venue for two days, and then at the competition venue for a further two days. At the booth, visitors could take informational quizzes and respond to questionnaires, Part 4 | Around the WTF 219


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Part 4 _ Around the WTF

‘Educating Ourselves as a Community:’ Coach-Referee Training Camp for Rio

‘2016 Taekwondo World Peace Festival’ Rocks Heart of Seoul Post-Rio, Seoul celebrated taekwondo’s Olympic success in style

Just 104 days in advance of the taekwondo competition kicking off in Brazil, the WTF opened a training camp for both referees and coaches in Muju, Korea on May 5-8, 2016. The WTF World Taekwondo Coach and Referee Joint Training Camp for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was the second such event; the inaugural joint camp was held in advance of the London 2012 Olympics, widely considered taekwondo’s finest hour. WTF President Chungwon Choue called that camp “the secret to the success” of the London competition. Sessions was presided over by WTF Referee Committee Chairman Chakir Chelbat, WTF Games Committee Chairman Philippe Bouedo, WTF Medical and Anti-doping Committee Chairman Paul Viscogliosi and attended by WTF Technical and Development Committee Chairman 220 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Kook-hyun Jung. The 4-day camp featured presentations, simulation training, video analyses, group discussions and question-and-answer sessions on topics that included rules, scoring, video replays, appeals, scoring and timing technologies, anti-doping and medical procedures. Role-play workshops put coaches into the referee’s position, and referees into the coaches' position. “Everyone has to understand the jobs of their colleagues,” said Bouedo. “It is all about making connections between the different actors.” Attendees praised the camp concept. “It is very good what the WTF are doing, this meeting of coaches and referees,” said Serbian Coach Dragan Jovic. “Direct communication is the best way to take taekwondo up.”

“Years ago, it was not so easy to talk to referees, and the other way round; people felt personally attacked,” said Swedish Coach Markus Kohlaeffel. “Now, it is one team together, we are educating ourselves as a community.”

Peace Festival.” The festival, set in Seoul’s iconic City Hall Plaza, was headlined by high-flying, highkicking taekwondo demonstrations. It also featured musical performances by leading K-pop acts.

Peruvian IOC Member Ivan Dibos praised the WTF, noting that while the IOC aims for at least 20 percent female referees, the WTF is fielding 15 male and 15 female international referees in Rio: a 50:50 gender split. Djibouti IOC Member and National Olympic Committee President Aicha Garad Ali was impressed by the camp itself, saying, “I have never seen this before in any international federation.” The camp took place at Taekwondowon, a dedicated facility set in rolling countryside three hours south of Seoul.

For five hours on the balmy Sunday evening of Sept. 4, 2016, central Seoul thrilled to the sight of whirling, spinning kicks and echoed to the thunder of booming music as the city hosted the “2016 Taekwondo World

The festival, in which a taekwondo vision statement was announced, was co-organized by the WTF and the Global Taekwondo Support Foundation for Peace and Unification, headed by Jun Yong-won.

Free and open to the public, the event welcomed thousands of fans who not only enjoyed the entertainment, but also got the chance to meet and collect the autographs of Team Korea’s Rio Olympic medalists and to peruse a “Taekwondo History Wall” set up in the plaza. VIPs in attendance included current WTF President Chungwon Choue and former WTF President Un Yong Kim. “A sport with 80 million people can and should play a bigger role for world peace,” said Choue in an address to the crowd, referring to the charity programs being carried out by the WTF and its refugee-empowerment initiative, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation.

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COACH

interview Tadjou Attada

The coach of Olympic gold medalist Cheick Sallah Junior Cisse says there is no secret to success: Athletes and their coaches must tough it out! But God's help is also appreciated...

‘It is good to make an interesting and aggressive game, but if it becomes much more aggressive it will not be good for Olympism’

Cote d’Ivoire

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African Hopes, African Dreams

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f you are a taekwondo athlete in Cote d’Ivoire – congratulations! You have never had it so good.

Cote d’Ivoire sent three players to the 2016 Rio Olympics and two of them won medals. One of most spectacular female fighters in the tourney, Ruth Marie Christelle Gbagbi, seized bronze, while – in what was arguably the most exciting final of the Games – Cheick Sallah Junior Cisse took gold. The two Cote d’Ivoirians gave their country an overall fifth place in taekwondo’s Olympic medal table, and pushed it to the top of the league in African taekwondo. The man who can take significant credit for the result is National Coach Tadjou Attada. A native of Abidjan, the 53-year-old took up the sport at 18. “I was an athlete from the ages of 20-30; I was a champion in Cote d’Ivoire and I was also a silver medalist at the 9th World Championships in Korea,” he said. He hung up his hogu at the age of 30; since then, he has been coaching. “Taekwondo was well respected in Cote d’Ivoire because Master Young-tae Kim did a wonderful job introducing it to the country,” said Attada. “The medals confirmed the beautiful work Kim did before, and now all the people really respect taekwondo, now there is much more interest.” Indeed, the reaction at home to Cisse’s win was “not a surprise” Attada said: His player is a regular fixture at elite-level competitions. So what is the secret to Olympic triumph? “It is not a secret! It is tough! It is just God who gave us a lot of help!” Attada laughed. However, he conceded that the country has been investing in taekwondo since 1985. Moreover, the sport is now popular among “the big guys from the government” - which obviously helps with funding. A further issue is harmony: “I am not only the coach, I am also the technical director for Cote d’Ivoire,” Attada said. “One person has all the decisions, and they all trust me to make all the decisions.

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If you have one person who is technical director and one who is coach, that will make a fight between each other, and players can be stressed.” Still, there are some issues holding back African players, Attada believes. “The ranking system is very good – but not for Africa, as we do not have enough money to go to G1s and G2s,” he said. “Plus, for African countries, it is not easy to get visas. These are two points that give us a lot of problems.” Like many coaches and players, he repeated a point about the PSS: The game has changed with the development of the PSS, but now he hopes the system will adapt to the game. He is much happier with the rules as they stand currently. “I won two Olympic medals so I am not against the rules!” he said. He cautioned against excessive post-Rio changes. “If we change something, those changes will cause other problems,” he said. “The style of today – the front leg, with no power – is here now because we made changes in the past, so now we have this.” If alterations are to be made to the rules, he suggests introducing them gradually. “If you say, ‘OK, change from one Olympics to another,’ that is good: We have a four-year cycle,” he said. “But if you change, and then change in four months, then in three months again – then we have a problem.” He also warns against devolving back to the old roughhouse, power-based style of taekwondo. “It is good to make an interesting and aggressive game, but if it becomes much more aggressive it will not be good for Olympism,” he said. In the future, he would like the WTF to pay more attention to the Continental Union which most raised its visibility in Rio: Africa. “When the WTF does something, I hope they give more attention to Africa – for Africa, taekwondo is hopes and dreams!” he said. “We have a lot of practitioners, and we have more licenses than Europe. So please consider the situation of Africa before making changes!”

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COACH

interview Faris Al-Assaf

Assaf has a voice – one he raised at the recent WTF Coach Seminar and Forum in Seoul. His first comment is on the fighting season. “I think now that there are too many championships – the World Championships, the Universiade, the G1s and G2s, the Grand-Prix,” he said. “It requires too much from the players, it is hard on the body, too tough – too much energy. “

Jordan

Part 4 _ Around the WTF

Gold-Standard Coaching: Living the Dream

And indeed, 2017 – with the World Championships in June, followed by the Grand-Prix series packed into the second half, is going to be a grinding season for taekwondo’s top teams and fighters.

I

t is not just athletes who get to live the dream – coaches do, too. “I thought it was a dream for two weeks!” recalls Faris AlAssaf. “I woke up at 6 A.M. every day, I was not sure if I was asleep or awake!” The 35-year-old Jordanian is the coach of arguably the greatest phenom produced by taekwondo at the Rio 2016 Summer Games. Ahmad Abughaush was an Olympian “boy from nowhere:” A virtual unknown on the elite taekwondo circuit who leapt and kicked his way out of obscurity to the finals where, after a high-flying clash with Russia’s Alexey Denisenko, he gifted Jordan with its first-ever Olympic medal in any discipline – gold.

He is happy with the direction taekwondo's sport presentation has been taking in recent years, in both the Grand-Prix series and the Olympics, but hopes for further development. “Maybe uniforms can be more beautiful – like we had Jordanian red pants and we were all happy to see the flag on the pants,” he said. “And music that plays at the start – maybe the players can choose music – maybe Arabic music!” And although the PSS roundly comes in for criticism from all areas of the game, he admits that the fairness and transparency it has

‘After the Olympics, all the people are training and taekwondo is the number one sport’

“When we came home, all of Jordan knew Abughaush: They had pictures in the street, and princes turned up to greet him at the airport,” Al-Assaf recalled. “Everybody, in the streets and in restaurants, asked me about the red card I had played – they all wanted to know what it was!”

Al-Assaf is not only the national coach of Team Jordan: He has been training the boy wonder for years. “I coached him from when he was a junior, he was a member of my club,” he said. “I raised him!” Now that the Olympics is over, the two are back in training – along with crowds of new students.

Jordanian gold medalist Ahmad Abughaush considers his coach as close as his father: Meet Faris Al-Assaf, the man behind the boy wonder...

“Before the Olympics, Jordan did not have any plan for training: taekwondo, judo and karate were all the same,” he said. “After the Olympics, all the people – and their sons and daughters – are training and taekwondo is the number one sport, more popular than football.” And now that he is the coach of an Olympic gold medalist, Al-

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brought to taekwondo means it is here to stay. “We cannot go back,” he said. “The PSS is fair for all players – any player can win." Given that he has raised one of the most exciting fighters on the scene – Abughaush is a surprising technician, who often throws the crowd-pleasing jump kicks, and is a master of footwork – AlAssaf is critical of the spectacle the sport delivers at present. “Abughaush has a mix of techniques, old style and new style, so everybody is happy to see his taekwondo – it is not only push kick, push kick, push kick,” he said. “We need more action in the game.” And how to do that? “We should add five points for spin kicks to the face and we should give kyungo for misses,” he said. “There should be kyungo for all this faking, but not kicking, with the front leg.” Part 4 | Around the WTF 225


COACH

interview Dragan Jovic

Serbia is a small country, but having won, respectively, gold and silver medals in London 2012 and Rio 2016, it is a big hitter in taekwondo. How did it manage it? Ask the coach...

Serbia. “Among Olympic categories, taekwondo is in first place by results, with one gold and one silver,” said Jovic. “Water polos is in second place with one gold and two bronze, and wrestling in third with one gold.”

Serbia

Part 4 _ Around the WTF

Small Fist, Big Punch

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alk about punching above your weight. In taekwondo, some nations leverage large populations and powerhouse sporting infrastructures to churn out champions. But other countries with smaller taekwondo populations and weaker infrastructures still manage to produce medalists. Serbia – population 7.1 million – is in the latter category. Having won two medals in successive Olympics – Milica Mandic’s gold in London 2012 and Tijana Bogdanovic’s silver in Rio in 2016 – the Balkan nation can claim to be among the taekwondo elite. “Usually, Serbian people talk about themselves as a sporting country, as we have a very big tradition of water polo and basketball and volleyball,” said Jovic – who is himself small in stature, but big in influence. “I don’t know if our power is our genetics for sport or what!” Jovic has been in the sport since 1987 and been coaching since 1991. That was the year he opened his nowfamous dojang, Club Galeb, in Belgrade. (“Galeb” means “Seagull” – after Jovic's own nickname.) The club has produced Serbia’s two Olympic taekwondo stars – and in turn, made taekwondo the number-one Olympic sport in 226 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

With Bogdanovic’s Rio success proving that Mandic’s London gold was no fluke, taekwondo’s future in Serbia is assured – and that means funding. “After Tijana won a silver in Rio, taekwondo in our country will stay on a high level,” Jovic said. “By the end of this year, we will know what the plans are for the next Olympic cycle, and I think that our budget will be double or more. I hope!” Moreover, he hopes that the country will invest in the building of a dedicated Olympic training center, catering to all sport categories. Much of the success of the sport in Serbia is down to Jovic, who not only founded Galeb, but also created, and now curates, one of the top competitions in Europe. “The Galeb Belgrade Trophy – the Serbia Open – is G1 category,

competition system is very simple because we don’t have a large number of competitors.” Every year, there is a National Championships and a National Cup for all age categories. While Jovic’s club Galeb has proven to be a medal factory, the next step is expanding the player base by growing the sport nationally. Both Mandic and Bogdanovic have been embraced by Serbian media, which has raised taekwondo’s visibility. Recently, Galeb helped organize a competition in the Serbian city of Nis. “We were thrilled at how many people came, how many kids were coming during the day,” he said. “They all wanted to take pictures with Milica and Tijana, so we have done a good job: We started the development of taekwondo in that city.” Other clubs are also organizing competitions in different cities, which is expanding the talent pool. Speaking of the sport in general, Jovic has – like all the Olympiclevel coaches who attended the WTF’s week-long coach seminar and forum in Seoul in October – some strong opinions on the current situation of taekwondo and its dominance by frontleg fighters whose arsenals are limited to cut kicks and push kicks. This style, he maintains, kills taekwondo’s trademark spectacular techniques.

‘Others can learn from us about how, with little or no money, you can get great results’ and is one of the most prestigious tournaments in Europe and the world,” he said. “I organized that tournament for the first time in 2001, with the idea being to enable taekwondo kids to see some of the best fighters of the world without leaving Belgrade.” One of those kids is his 15-year-old daughter Teodora, who won a bronze in the European cadets in 2014, and competed, under dad’s tutelage, in the World Juniors in Burnaby in 2016. National team entry is via ranking, collected at tournaments, including G1, G2 and G4. The national team gathers once or twice a year. As an incentive – and by national law – every winner of a European, world or Olympic medal receives a pension after they turn 40. Tournament winners – and their coaches – also receive government prize money. In terms of organization, being a physically small country is an advantage. Across Serbia there are approximately 80 taekwondo clubs, with some 6,000 practitioners and around 100 senior competitors. “This is a very small number,” Jovic says. “The

“A large percentage of the fights are not interesting; there are always some attractive fights, but not many,” he said. “Fighters who are interesting for the audience can’t win fights with their techniques, because in front of them are front-leg fighters who are making fights ugly.” Just as the “monkey kick” has been banned from competition, he proposes ditching the push kick, by making it subject to a onepoint penalty. “We need to try one year without the push kick and see the results,” he said. “I am sure that my colleagues, who think differently now, would say, after one year, that taekwondo is far more interesting if we make this change.” Meanwhile, he is proud of what little Serbia has achieved on the taekwondo scene. And with taekwondo being one of the most economical sports in the Olympics, he reckons other nations can benefit from his experience. “Others can learn from us about how, with little or no money, you can get great results,” he said.

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interview Myriam Baverel Chair of Coaches Committee Part 4 _ Around the WTF

A role model for gender empowerment lauds the WTF for granting the top coaches in the game a voice in the future direction of the sport

Coaching Beyond Gender, Coaching Beyond Sport

T

he WTF, as it starts walking the long road from Rio 2016 to Tokyo 2020 has sent a strong message: It wants to hear the voices of the top coaches in the sport as the game evolves. That was the response of Chairperson of the WTF Coaches Committee Myriam Baverel, after attending the inaugural WTF Coach Seminar, which took place on Oct. 17-21, 2016, in Seoul. “By organizing the coach forum, the WTF delivered a very strong and positive message to the coaches: ‘We are considering you and we need you!’” Baverel said. “The WTF has given the best coaches in the world the opportunity to express their opinions and mention their ideas to contribute to the evolution of taekwondo.” Changes to the game are to come in early 2017. In the months ahead, the suggestions made by the coaches are to be filtered through the WTF Technical and Development Committee and Executive Committee, before being voted on during the WTF General Assembly in Burnaby, Canada, in November 2016. “With a better understanding of our respective constraints, discussions and solutions become possible,” she said. “What I hope for after this event is that dialogs are facilitated and all stakeholders are engaged.” Like many members of the taekwondo family, Baverel acknowledges the changes that the PSS has brought to the game.

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‘We are now at the point where technological evolution will have the greatest impact on future changes’

“Protector and Scoring System (PSS) companies have worked very hard to achieve the objectives of making taekwondo fair and transparent, and the WTF changed the rules,” she said. “Coaches adapt their strategy and training methods, and athletes create and innovate their sports. These different logics have made the game what it is today.” This suggests that there is a pressing need for advances in the PSS. “In my opinion, we are now at the point where technological evolution will have the greatest impact on future changes,” she said. A native of Chambery in the French Alps, Baverel’s early sporting love was figure skating. She started taekwondo at age 16, and continued until 23. During that short but intense period, she fought in two Olympics, and won silver in Athens.

gender diversity,” she said. “Mentality changes take time, and evolution occurs only through strong political will.” The will clearly exists. “This is what WTF President Chungwon Choue did in an exemplary way by ensuring that there were 50 percent female referees in Rio,” she said. But is it appropriate for females to coach males – or vice versa? “For me, and according to scientific studies that have been conducted, there is no gender specificity in terms of management – only individual characteristics of athletes,” she said. “My approach as a coach is the same, and equally effective, regardless of gender.” Regardless of gender, what, in modern taekwondo, is the role of the coach?

In her 11 years of coaching experience, she coached the French Junior National Team and the French Senior Male and Female National Teams.

“High-level sport is a lifestyle choice,” Baverel said. “My role as coach is to provide the best support to athletes who have chosen this way of life as a personal fulfillment.”

She has chaired the WTF Coaches Committee for the last two years and – as one of the very few coaches in elite-level taekwondo who coach both male and female teams – has strong ideas about gender equality.

And that process, Baverel insisted, extends beyond sport.

“To encourage more women in leader positions, we must create the conditions to allow the differences and enjoy the benefits of

“My goal is to maximize their potential and help transfer this approach to their lives and future projects,” she said. “Becoming a champion is all about becoming a nicer person, a better citizen of the world, an example for society.”

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REFEREE

interview Elva Pai Adams

USA

Part 4 _ Around the WTF

Taekwondo, 360 Degrees ‘Taekwondo introduced me to the world – it’s a passion, an obession!’ For this competitor, champion, coach and referee, taekwondo has been a 'second life,' offering competitive glory, international travel, colleagues, friends - and even love

I

n taekwondo, there are Olympic champions and there are Olympic referees. There are kyorugi athletes and there are poomsae athletes. There are officials and there are coaches. And amid the vortex of combat, there is emotion, passion – even love. Taekwondo, in short, offers a broad horizon of opportunities. Few can realistically expect to experience all these things. One who has is Elva Pai Adams. “Taekwondo is like my second life - taekwondo introduced me to the world” said Pai Adams during a break from officiating at the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final in Baku, Azerbaijan. “It’s a passion, it’s an obsession.” The 48-year-old naturalized American got her start in taekwondo in her native Taiwan in 1983. The reason she got involved was one typical of many martial arts aficionados – a physical altercation. 230 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

“I had a fight with another girl in my Chinese Opera class!” she recalled. Seeking revenge, she sought out combative training. Although Taiwan was a hotbed of traditional Chinese kungfu, her school offered only taekwondo. That became her default martial art - but her desire for bloody, violent vengeance soon evaporated when she discovered that she had an aptitude for sportive taekwondo. She earned her black belt in two years, and began competing almost immediately, at a time when Chinese Taipei’s female team was at its formidable apex.

legendary ’88 Games when taekwondo appeared, for the first time in the Olympics, as a demonstration sport. “I never knew I would be in the same house as all these elite athletes from all over the world.” When the smoke cleared, the flyweight from Chinese Taipei had an Olympic bronze medal hanging around her neck. Fast forward 28 years, and Pai Adams stood, once more, under the Olympic spotlights. At Rio 2016, however, she was encased, not in chest armor and head protector, but in the uniform of an international referee. As the first female international referee to qualify from the USA, she is one of the most sough-after officiators on the international circuit.

her peers. Online, she is a significant player on social media, with a legion of friends and fans following her global travels and taekwondo adventures on Facebook. Making Pai Adams’ “second taekwondo life” even more remarkable is that she also has a “first life:” She is not a full-time taekwondo pro. An accounting graduate she is, in her professional career, a vice president of business banking at Wells Fargo Bank. She is also the mother of “two beautiful children.”

“It was a great, great time!” she said of the Rio experience. “It was all about the athletes - making sure the right athlete won.” How different was the refereeing experience compared to the competing experience? “I did not have the competitive pressure, but I knew how important [the Olympics] is for the athletes” she said. “That was my pressure: I could relate, because I understand the game.” Every taekwondo athlete – indeed, every elite athlete – suffers bumps, bruises and chronic injuries. Ironically, it was not fighting but refereeing that bought Pai Adams her most serious injury: While officiating a heavyweight bout, one of the competitors stumbled and fell upon her, tearing her ACL. That injury significantly slowed her down. However, it also led her down another road: The gentler, contactfree discipline of poomsae – the “art” side of taekwondo rather than the “martial” side of kyorugi. Today, she continues to train several times per week, largely for health, doing poomsae, stretching and kicking. Indeed, she can still unleash a wickedly high side kick – a move she demonstrated to a gob-smacked reporter at the 3rd Annual Gala Awards, while wearing high heels and an evening dress, and after drinking several glasses of vino!

She took bronze at the 1986 Asian Championships, gold at the 1987 Worlds and gold at the 1988 Asian Championships. But her biggest moment was the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988 – the year when both Korea and taekwondo hosted their global coming out parties.

Poomsae practice led to poomsae competition. She is today widely acknowledged as a master instructor in the field, having coached the team which took home the bronze at the 2014 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico. More recently, she herself took silver in the Women's Team Over 30 Team category at the World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Lima, Peru in 2016. That makes her a member of a very select club: Those who have medaled in both kyorugi and poomsae.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” she recalled of the now-

Offline, the ever-upbeat Pai Adams is highly popular among

And indeed, taekwondo has bought Pai Adams more than simply competitive honors and global travel: It has also delivered that elusive gift every human seeks - love. She and her then-coach, Raymond Hsu, married when she was still a teen. “I was young, he was my coach,” she said. The couple tied the knot when Pai Adams was 17, but the marriage did not last. However, the two – now, both naturalized Americans - remain on good terms and remain geographically close to one another in San Antonio, Texas. In fact, Pai Adams still works out at her ex’s San Antonio dojang. Today, there is a new life partner. Perhaps inevitably, the beau in question has deep taekwondo roots: US Coach Brian Singer. Singer joined Pai Adams in Rio where she refereed and he volunteered, and was with her in Baku, where he was coaching Team USA at the World Taekwondo Team Championships and she was officiating. The couple will soon be opening their own dojang in San Antonio. However, she said she will also continue her long, long-term training with Hsu. So, when will this widely travelled taekwondo veteran finally hang up her dobok? Not for a while, apparently. “I still have to win a world championship in senior poomsae!” she said. Part 4 | Around the WTF 231


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‘Booyoung Taekwondo Dream Program’ Brings Disadvantaged Rio Hopefuls to Korea

Booyoung Scholarships Awarded to 7 Nations On the second day of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships in Burnaby, Canada, Booyoung Scholarships were awarded to seven nations. Bangladesh, Botswana, Guadeloupe, Mongolia, Nepal, Rwanda and Ukraine each received USD5,000 from Booyoung, the WTF’s The WTF sponsored three teams suffering from limited financial means to visit Korea on the “Booyoung Taekwondo Dream Program.” The assistance program, titled after the WTF’s global partner Booyoung, offered intensive taekwondo training in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. The teams invited were from Cambodia, Jordan and Nepal. The Nepalese athlete received a Tripartite Commission “Wild Card” invitation to Rio, while the Cambodian and Jordanian athletes both qualified via Continental Qualification Tournaments. The program ran from June 15 to July 12, 2016, with a total of nine athletes and coaches participating. Heading up the training was 232 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Yongin University Taekwondo Professor Taek-yong Kwak. Training took place at four locations nationwide that are famed for taekwondo: Korea National Sports University, Kyunghee University, Yongin University and the Samsung S1 Training Center. One of the attendees was Yong-sok Choi, the coach of Seavmey Sorn (women +67kg) of Cambodia, who also participated in the program. “Sorn is the first Cambodian athlete to qualify for the Olympics through her own effort, rather than wild card, making her a hero in the country,” Choi said. Sorn was the first Cambodian to place in the Asian Games, in 2014 - where she won gold.

She qualified to compete in the Rio Olympics when she won another gold in the Asian Qualification Tournament in April, 2016. The participants also visited the 2016 Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships in Gyeongju as spectators. On June 24, the visitors visited the WTF Headquarters in Seoul where they were greeted by WTF President Chungwon Choue. “I hope this program has upgraded your skills in preparation for the greatest sporting event on earth,” Choue said to the athletes. “I must also thank our partner Booyoung for its generosity in providing this opportunity, and Professor Kwak and the institutions which offered their facilities.”

official global partner, with checks being presented to national representatives by WTF President Chungwon Choue. “I am tremendously grateful to our global partner, Booyoung, for so generously offering these grants,” Choue said. “These funds will be invested in upgrading taekwondo in the recipient nations.”

Jordanian History-Maker Ahmad Abughaush’s Dreams Come True - with Help from Booyoung Ahmad Abughaush – who made history in Rio in 2016 when he delivered to his home nation of Jordan its first Olympic medal, in any discipline, ever – was a beneficiary of the Booyoung Dream Program held in Korea in July, just prior to the Games. The WTF sponsored three teams suffering from limited financial means to

visit Korea on the “Booyoung Taekwondo Dream Program” – titled after the WTF’s global partner Booyoung. The program offered intensive taekwondo training in the run-up to Rio 2016. For Abughaush and for Jordan, that program appears to have paid a very substantial – indeed, historic – dividend.

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Rejuvenated WTF Athletes Committee Offers Players Voice in Game’s Future With player-centricism being the core task of the WTF, the federation hosted a new Athletes Committee meeting to ensure that the voice of the athletes is loud and clear

Athletes Committee Male

Female

Ryan Carneli (Australia)

Hamsa Adamou (Niger)

Ousmane Dandobi Mahamane (Niger)

Nadin Farid Dawani (Jordan)

Pascal Gentil (France)

Yeon-ji Kim (Korea)

Yousef Karami (Iran)

Iridia Salazar (Mexico)

Michalis Mouroutsos (Greece)

Brigitte Yague Enrique (Spain)

Gabriel Sagastume (Guatemala)

and tell me!” he added. The Athletes Committee is composed of one male and one female representative from each of the WTF’s five continental unions – the African Taekwondo Union, the Asian Taekwondo Union, the European Taekwondo Union, the Oceania Taekwondo Union and the Pan American Taekwondo Union – as well as one male and one female athlete chosen directly by the WTF. However, the OTU female position has not yet been filled.

On Dec. 8, 2016, just prior to the start of the World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final in Azerbaijan, and as part of its efforts to put the players at the heart of the sport, the WTF hosted a full-day Athletes Committee meeting at Baku’s Badamdar Hotel. The aim of the meeting was, firstly, to relaunch the Athletes Committee, which has been inactive in recent years, and 236 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

secondly – and more crucially – to give athletes a greater voice in WTF decisionmaking. Committee members were joined by members of the WTF Council, the WTF Technical and Development Committee and WTF Games Committee prior to their hours-long discussion. “It is essential for the sport to hear the voice of the athletes,” said WTF President

Chungwon Choue. “The Athletes Committee is that voice.” “You must contribute to developing taekwondo in the future,” said Kook-hyun Jung, the legendary former champion who heads the WTF Technical and Development Committee. “If you have any good ideas, discuss them

The committee, which will meet twice a year, will continue in its present form until 2017 and beyond – most likely to 2021. One male and one female will automatically become ex-officio members of the WTF Council with full voting rights. These positions will be chosen in April 2017 by e-vote among committee members. Attending the meeting were Hamsa Adamou and Ousmane Dandobi Mahamane, both from Niger; Yousef Karami

of Iran; Yeon-ji Kim of Korea; Michalis Mouroutsos of Greece; and chairing the meeting, Pascal Gentil of France. WTF Director General Jin-bang Yang laid out the challenges facing taekwondo. He noted that the WTF had, after the judging and refereeing issues that plagued taekwondo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, fixed these problems by instituting the electronic protector and scoring system and instant video replays. These developments have upgraded fairness and transparency - but, in an unintended side effect, have changed the game to the point where many “old school” taekwondo fighters criticize today's game. “We have got fairness, transparency and satisfaction with the judging and we cannot touch these – these are absolute values,” said Yang. “But without hurting these, we have to improve the content and quality of the game.” Key tasks for the WTF are now making the

sport more spectator-friendly and more TV-friendly, he said. Another issue the federation is investigating is improving opportunities for athletes after their fighting careers end. The agenda items consisted of: Annual Calendar; Sports Organization; Equipment; Rules; Safety and Security; and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Discussion took place over such issues as organizing the annual competition calendar in advance and keeping January clear to give elite athletes an opportunity to recuperate; improving amenities in the athletes’ warmup areas at venues; and how to start and end competitions on time. “Some ideas were having a masseur and having healthy food for athletes in the warm-up area; getting rid of slippery mats; and the length of fighting rounds and the number of rounds,” Gentil summed up after the meeting. “We hope to have some tests to try all these things,” he added. Part 4 | Around the WTF 237


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WTF Central Training Center Opens at Taekwondowon, Muju In a retreat in Muju, the WTF Council made final tweaks to the preparations for Rio 2016 and officially named the flagship training facility in the southern Korean hills a ‘control tower’ for WTF training centers around the world

The WTF Council finalized its preparations for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in a special meeting held at the Taekwondowon, a dedicated training facility in Muju, Korea. In a meeting presided over by WTF President Chungwon Choue, the Council was briefed on the latest preparations for the biggest event in taekwondo’s calendar, the Olympic Games. The WTF vowed to bring a "fesival of fight" to Rio. Mark Kauffmann, taekwondo sports manager of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, delivered a progress report. He

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gave an overview of the Olympics, and the taekwondo training and competition venue. After a discussion on taekwondo competition uniforms, the Council approved the placement of national flags on uniform pants, as well as permitting colored pants; previously, only plain white uniform pants had been allowed. Twenty-seven Council members and two auditors attended the meeting. The Council unanimously adopted a resolution to demonstrate the united stance of the WTF Council on all matters discussed during the meeting.

In a separate event, Council members held discussions with international coaches and referees who had gathered in Muju for a special workshop and scenario training on taekwondo’s latest rulesets and equipment. A signboard-hanging ceremony was also held, dedicating the WTF Central Training Center at Taekwondowon. Henceforth, Taekwondowon will act as a control tower overseeing the activities of the regional training centers so far established worldwide in Azerbaijan, China, Germany, Great Britain, Iran and Uzbekistan.

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‘Beacon of Aspiration:’ National Taekwondo Center Opens in Manchester, GB A state-of-the-art training center for one of taekwondo’s top squads, Team GB, has opened in Manchester. The facility will be thrown open to the grassroots, as well as to the elite Manchester,” he said. “We have been treated to many world-class events here and I am always struck by the quality of the facilities and the passion that exists for our sport." Turning to the opening of the new center, Choue continued, “The establishment of the National Taekwondo Center, which also serves as a World Taekwondo Federation regional center, truly cements Manchester as the home of taekwondo in the UK." A world-class facility designed for Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls informally dubbed a "Beacon of Aspiration" - will also be available to Manchester residents, as the new National Taekwondo Center opened in Newton Heath. The state-of-the-art facility, which opened at the Ten Acres Sports Complex on March 7, 2016 will be the home of GB Taekwondo and will give star athletes like Olympic champion Jade Jones and 2015 World Grand-Prix series winner Lutalo 240 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

Muhammad, a permanent base – where all of their training and conditioning needs are met under one roof. Local amateurs will also benefit from the elite training center, which will be opened to schools and local community clubs to use every day of the week. Members of the GB Taekwondo squad were there to welcome WTF President Chungwon Choue as he performed the official opening. “It is always a pleasure to be in

athletic elite.

Taekwondo is not just for the

“Taekwondo is more than just a sport; it is a philosophy; it teaches discipline, understanding and respect and inspires people to live healthy lifestyles," he said. “I have no doubt that the development of the center will do just that, and will also ensure British athletes perform at their very best at Rio 2016.” “As well as providing outstanding facilities for GB Taekwondo, the National Taekwondo Center will provide a lasting community

legacy, giving new opportunities for Manchester residents to get involved in an Olympic sport on their doorstep," said Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councilor Rosa Battle. GB Taekwondo has been based in Manchester since 2007, but the new center means that for the first time, elite athletes, coaches and administrators will all work together in the same building. The opening of the new facility – with its 900m² training hall and 500m² strength and conditioning hall – comes as the GB athletes continue to build-up to the summer’s Olympics in Rio, starting with the Dutch Open. “It is already having a big impact for the current group and I’m sure it will really benefit and inspire our future taekwondo athletes for years to come,” Jones added.

The GBP2.7 million project has been funded by Manchester City Council, Sport England and UK Sport, with management services at the center delivered by the Eastlands Trust. “We are all really pleased to see the opening of the new National Taekwondo Center and seeing the impact it will have on the sport, from the community participant just starting the experience in the sport to the elite athlete hoping for medal success on the world stage," said Charles Johnston, Director of Property at Sport England. “I am sure they will appreciate the world-class facilities that have been created." “To achieve world-class performances, athletes and staff need access to worldclass facilities," said Liz Nicholl, CEO of Sport UK. "This new center will be a 'Beacon of Aspiration' for young taekwondo players across the UK."

She ended by saying, "GB Taekwondo has a fantastic new home.” It is a home that Great Britain's taekwondo community has long awaited. “Facilities are often the major challenge for sports as they strive to develop and improve and it has been no different for GB Taekwondo down the years," Steve Flynn, GB Taekwondo Director said. “Our athletes and staff have often had to compromise but it hasn’t stopped us delivering some superb performances on the mats.' “Now, with the commitment of Sport England, UK Sport, Manchester City Council and Eastlands Trust, who have collectively recognized and responded to the needs of our Performance and Pathway programs, we have a fantastic platform on which to build towards Rio this summer and on to future Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he finished. Part 4 | Around the WTF 241


Argentina Benchmarks Football to Upgrade Taekwondo’s Appeal

Part 4 _ Around the WTF

MNA Focus

The Argentinian football team is one of the most formidable on earth, having produced global superstars of the caliber of Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.

contacts and approaches he has.” Football is Argentina’s most popular sport – and like football, taekwondo is a poor man’s activity: It does not require much money to

Now, the Confederacion Argentina de

do. That makes it ideal for society’s “have

Taekwondo is hoping to bring a little of this

nots.”

football magic to taekwondo.

“My executive board has, for four years,

“My mission is to make taekwondo the most

reached a lot of places that a lot of sports

important sport at a national level,” said

have not reached in Argentina,” Gontan

Ignacio Gontan, 46, a fifth-dan in taekwondo

said. “A lot of the poorer places, a lot of hard

and a banker by profession who has been,

places; helping people – homeless people –

since October 2015, the president of the

get off the streets and off drugs.”

Confederacion Argentina de Taekwondo. “My plan is to develop and work as we have been doing, with marketing communications: Argentina is broadcasting live taekwondo competitions and that is a really strong way to get the word out.”

Politically, Argentina is divided into 24 provinces. In 2011, taekwondo only reached 15 of those provinces; now it is represented in 22, with a population of 250,000 practitioners – partly thanks to more stable finances in the confederation.

TV, he reckons, is the magic bullet when

“It has really developed,” Gontan said. “We

it comes to embedding a sport into the

have succeeded in getting a stable financial

national mindset. “I am thinking that even

status – I am a banker! It is easier for me

here in Korea, there is not that much TV and

than for others.”

radio broadcasting of taekwondo, but in Argentina it is on live TV and radio,” he said. “This gets a lot of publicity.”

On a recent visit to the WTF Headquarters in Seoul, Gontan was pleased to meet an old friend – WTF Director General Jin-bang

But it is not just hardware: The confederation

Yang. Yang was formerly one of taekwondo's

is also investing in the software, having

itinerant masters, travelling the world

bought in a professional football journalist,

offering seminars, and it was on one of those

Guido Cristiani. “We made a contract with

seminars that the two first met. The meeting

him,” said Gontan. “He will help with all the

was not, however, entirely cordial.

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New French Taekwondo President Leads Change from Grass Roots to Elite

Part 4 _ Around the WTF

MNA Focus

“I was an international referee and I attended

French taekwondo is already on the sport’s

the first referee course held in Cuba in 1991

cutting edge, with four athletes qualified for

and Master Yang was the instructor,” he

the Rio Olympics in 2016. Now, the French

recalled. “Master Yang made me cut my

Taekwondo Federation is looking to the future

hair – taekwondo was a martial art and an

and planning bold moves to take taekwondo

international referee with long hair was not

in the nation to the next level.

allowed so he sent me to a hair stylist!”

visibility bonanza. ”In French taekwondo, we have almost 55,000 people and we hope for more!” he said. But to leverage the Olympic bonus, he believes taekwondo has to think beyond

bring taekwondo to them,” he said.

ordered. “I tricked him because I tied it up!”

in Paris but a resident of Grenoble, became

Gontan said. “When I told him about it today,

president of the federation on July 4, 2015,

he remembered and laughed.”

with confirmation of his position coming in

the Korea Foundation: It invited him after seeing the prominence of taekwondo on

is a four-year one, he faced and won a reelection after the 2016 Olympics – as per law for all French International Federations.)

Argentinian TV. He had some advice for

A seventh-dan black belt and international

Korea during a meeting at the Ministry of

referee, he seeks to make marketing

Culture, Sports and Tourism. “I said that

changes and grading changes, but will also

taekwondo is a very strong cultural item,

have to oversee a massive, and politically

you get to learn discipline and the Korean

tricky, organizational change that comes

language,” he said. “The government is

from the very top.

trying to spread culture through K-pop, but music comes and goes. Taekwondo, and the discipline that it provides you, does not go away.” During his visit to the WTF, Gontan briefed staffers on the status of Argentina’s hosting of the Youth Olympics in 2018. “It is the most important exhibition of sport in the world at the amateur level,” he said.

But first things first – and the first thing is Rio. “I have to do all I can to make our athletes ready for the Olympic Games, we need to take care of them specially,” he said. “We have a special program for them to go to some countries, and I have a special Olympic team and budget.” In the wake of the Olympics, he hopes for a

president: in France presidents are not professional.” taekwondo grades.

public, for the family, for the handicapped, to

federation president, Denis Odjo. Odjo, born

special cultural tour of Korea sponsored by

presidents, so maybe one can be a vice

Another task relates to the Kukkiwon and

The initiatives are the responsibility of the

January 2016. (Although Odjo’s position

continued. “Some regions have two

elite-level sport. “I want diversity – for the

The Argentinian, however, did not do as

Gontan was visiting the WTF while on a

to explain, to make people happy,” he

Odjo has a range of tactical ideas that can be implemented at the grass-roots level.

In France, the national government oversees diplomas and grades in all martial arts. “In France you have a promotional test

“Say you have a club and you have parents

with the government – then you have the

who take their kids to the club – why not have

equivalency with the Kukkiwon,” he said.

a practice for the parents?” he asked. “Then

“if you have a first dan, you cannot be a

the parents don’t need to wait: We have to

second dan six months later: In France it is

animate them! We can make ‘taekwondo

not possible.”

dance,’ we can make ‘taiji taekwondo’ – this all exists in taekwondo.” Beyond the grass roots, the federation itself needs to be reorganized in line with a national initiative to administratively reshuffle all regions in the nation. “Now we have 26 regions and they will become 13 regions; this is the government system, and we have to adopt the same system,” Odjo said. “Some presidents will be canceled and some presidents will have bigger regions – this is not easy politically!” There will be a lot of talking and a lot of compromises. “We will have to deal,

In the future, he seeks exclusivity in his relationship with the sport's certifying body in Seoul. “I want to be the only federation in France with official Kukkiwon recognition,” he said. “I think it is good for every country to have this.” This would also obviate the problem of fake Kukkiwon certification and would help centralize administration. "I hope other federations will do the same thing,” he added. “It is important to have the same progression in each country.” Part 4 | Around the WTF 243


Taekwondo: The Ultimate Product? Part 4 _ Around the WTF

Karma and Kids in ‘Thaikwondo’ Part 4 _ Around the WTF

the orphans to compete on the local circuit.

The program got underway in 2014. “It is

nations on the face of the earth and it was

“They gained med­als, self-esteem and self-

sort of an orphanage, sort of a refugee

a religious urge – the urge to build good

confidence,” he said. “This can be testified

camp, they take on refugee kids who are

karma – that convinced Thai Taekwondo

by the local social workers. They told me,

not accepted as citizens of the neighboring

Association President Pimol­Srivikorn to take

‘This boy used to be a big bully, but now he

country; they don’t have nationality there,

taekwondo to orphans and refugees.

helps his juniors… this kid used to give the

they don’t have citizenship or passports;

fin­ger to the head master, but now he is very

they have noth­ing.” The hundreds of

courteous.’”

children at the camp have not yet reached the competi­tive level, but look forward to

– good karma comes to you if you practice

The positive outcome led to a second

good karma,” said Pimol Srivikorn, who is

project. “I thought, I could take it fur­ther –

also vice president of the Asian Taekwondo

so we took it to an orphanage for girls in

On a courtesy call to the WTF offic­es in

Union and a WTF Council Member.

Lampoon Province in northern Thailand,”

Seoul in April 2016, Pimol Srivikorn was

“We have won here and there, we have

Pimol Srivikorn said. “In this partic­ular

surprised to hear that the he was thinking

Olympians and world champions so our

orphanage, most girls had parents who had

along the same lines as the WTF, which was

good karma will run out if we do not cultivate

died of AIDS and they got rejected by their

also sponsoring a program to take taekwon­

some! I thought, ‘Why don’t we build karma

communities, while some had problems with

do to refugee camps: the Taekwondo

instead of donating to temples?’”

stepfathers and sexual abuse and so on.”

Humanitarian Foundation.

From thought – action. In 2009, Pimol Srivikorn decided to sponsor weekend tae­

That program started in 2012. Similar results occurred.

champion of Tasmania, he was Australian

Iskander is named after the most famed

national champion in 1985 and 1986, and in

war leader in human history – Alexander the

the same year, was honored as “Tasmanian

Great (“Iskandar”). And like his namesake,

Star of Sport.” In 1998, he won another

the Australian likes to fight.

championship - Hanmadang freestyle

black belt in taekwondo, Iskandar is also

Thailand is one of the most deeply Bud­dhist

believe that what you sow is what you reap

Warrior by name, warrior by nature: Hassan

In addition to his eight-dan grandmaster-level

MNA Focus

“Because we are Buddhist people, we

MNA Focus

their tae­kwondo classes and are doing well.

Looking ahead, he sees future syner­gies. “Dr. Chungwon Choue said that the THF

skilled in boxing, wrestling and judo. With this background, he recognized early the value

point of his own experience, as a stranger

of viewership, he reckons the time is right for

in a strange land – he is in awe of the first-

taekwondo to flex its own marketing muscles.

generation of Korean coaches who took

Iskandar started martial arts at the age of eight under the tutelage of his elder brother in his native Lebanon. “He was a physical education teacher,” said Iskandar. “And a PE teacher has to know all sports, and do all sports.” The young Iskandar started with karate, then ITF taekwondo, then expandied into boxing, judo, wrestling and weight lifting. He took to it naturally. “Any martial artist can see a student is good, and he saw that I was

taekwondo in another language: It is really difficult but what they did was against all odds, they were successful, and a lot of their instructors and champions are now business

That, taekwondo must learn, he suggests. “I believe the leaders of taekwondo should have a plan to further expand taekwondo,” he said. “We need to reach our market: Families with young kids.” That means going beyond the combat sport and beyond the taekwondo family, and showcasing the art in its entirety to the general public. “Sparring is exciting, but we have poomsae, self-defense, spectacular jumping, kicking and breaking: What other martial art has all that?” he asked. To reach a maximum target audience, he suggested bringing new professionals into the WTF. “We need communications with TV stations, with Fox Sports, with ESPN, there

a taekwondo player, but an all-rounder.

he could. But combat of a far deadlier, more

Practicing taekwondo four nights a week as

brutal nature began to rage around the

his specialty, he cross-trained the other three

young martial arts aficionado: The Lebanese

nights, becoming a prototypical MMA fighter

Civil War. When Iskandar was 12, his family

- although the term was not coined at that time. “I did not have the idea of MMA, I did it

the Southeast Asian nation’s rugged

running this program,” he said. “Funding is

relocated to Australia.

borders. “It started with an in­structor doing

easy, but the expe­rience of maximizing the

research on education among hill tribes,

effectiveness of the program is probably

Unable to speak the language and lacking

and she happened to be a taekwondo

most import­ant.”

244 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

business to attract students, you promote

razzmatazz - the marketing, the promotion.

Lee, the young Iskandar trained in any gym

our experience with whoev­er is going to be

started.”

“You go to a new country, you open a new

he said. What MMA has done well is the

This will be a challenge - but it is a challenge

tribes; people whose home region straddles

skill levels rose, Pimol Srivikorn sponsored

it? What challenges they faced!” he said.

to send their kids to MMA or kickboxing,”

In his own youth, Iskandar was not merely

boys aged 8-16.

Sounds like good karma all round.

days – how could they make a living out of

too rough for children. “Parents don’t want

martial arts movie boom ignited by Bruce

to start off with, then I am hap­py to share

instructor,” he said. “That is how it all

pioneers who came from Korea in the early

demanding combat sport, he reckons it is

would be a snowball effect,” he said.

latest project is at a refugee camp for hill

consistent; all the bul­lying stopped.” As

taekwondo to the world. “Those early

While he admits today’s MMA is a hugely

owners.”

special,” he said. Inspired by the 1970s

equipment – at a Bangkok orphan­age for

are more responsible, more stable, more

Australia since late 2016.

era when MMA rules combat sports in terms

will do some fundraising so I will donate

recalled. “And by better kids I mean they

He has been president of Sports Taekwondo Looking back – and with the reference

The Taekwondo Association of Thai­land’s

became better kids through tae­kwondo,” he

Australian team manager in the early 2000s.

of mixed martial arts (MMA), but today, in an

kwondo classes – instruction, uniforms and

“The results were quite amazing, these boys

breaking – and subsequently became

was difficult to kick them.”

friends in his new country, the newly naturalized Aussie found an immediate home in martial arts clubs and migrated to taekwondo. His talent and hobby “eventuated as a career.” A multiple-times state

in a more difficult manner,” he said. “I fought specialists in their own fields: I wrestled a wrestler, I boxed a boxer; judo the same.” All this imparted valuable experience: “Boxers have very good reflexes,” he said. “In my

that taekwondo can surmount, Iskander asserts. Again, he returns to that first, nearmythic generation of taekwondo pioneers. “Can you imagine those early pioneers, with just their fist and their feet and their dobok?” he exclaimed. “Those guys’ determination! Those guys’ skills! They created the ultimate product!” That legacy is something that the entire world taekwondo family must respect. “Taekwondo is a product,” he urged. “We don’t want to devalue it.”

time, taekwondo had very strong kicks, but it Part 4 | Around the WTF 245


WTF Launches Mobile App to Keep Global Fanbase Up-to-Date on WTF News The WTF has launched a dedicated mobile app for WTF-recognized events to keep its global fan base upto-date with easily digestible, easily navigable news from competitions. The app is free to download and is available for Apple iOS and Android devices.

It features competition schedules, information, liveresults, videos, photos, athletes’ information, and the very latest news from taekwondo competitions.

the mobile app since the Rio Olympics to optimize engagement with the millions of taekwondo fans around the world and ensure they are kept closer to the action than ever before.

The results page is updated in real time.

The app is updated eventby-event. During the noncompetition period, it functions as a source of information on

The WTF has been running

overall WTF business. The 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in June will be the next event featured on the WTF mobile app. Fans can download the official World Taekwondo Federation app from the iTunes App Store or from Google Play.

Bringing Taekwondo to your Telephone: Mobile Game Developer Teams up with WTF The real action may have been on the mats, but mobile gamers can now get their virtual taekwondo kicks on a new field on play: their smartphones. The four-day taekwondo competition of the Rio Olympics ended with another striking show of taekwondo’s diversity. Ultimately, among eight weight categories (four male, four female), 13 countries took home medals in the men’s divisions, and 14 in the female divisions. To expand on the success of taekwondo in Rio, the WTF announced that it would tap into mobile gaming, one of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment segments, by engaging with an award-winning

246 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

game developer. The WTF will work with Swedishbased game studio Hello There, the developer of The Taekwondo Game – Global Tournament. This is the most popular taekwondo game on both the iOS and Android platforms. The Taekwondo Game – Global Tournament is free to download, and the player can purchase various items in the game, to expand the experience. The new initiative will be the WTF’s first foray into mobile gaming. “The WTF represents tens of millions of athletes, officials, and other taekwondo practitioners in virtually every country

worldwide," said WTF President Chungwon Choue. "Now the time is right to establish our presence in the mobile gaming space."

education and other activities in refugee camps in Jordan and Nepal,” Choue explained.

Hello There and the WTF also plan to release a PC version of the game.

Hello There is a multi awardwinning game studio based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Through engaging and innovative games Hello There attract millions of players world-wide. Some of the brands that Hello There work includes Avicii, Cadbury, Cazzette, Matel, Monki, Nokia, PlayStation, Puma, Saab, Samsung, SAS, Toyota, and Volvo.

And it is not just about a good game; it is also about a good cause. “In addition to broadening awareness about taekwondo, a percentage of the proceeds from the Taekwondo Game will go to the WTF’s humanitarian initiatives, which include offering

About Hello There

Part 4 | Around the WTF 247


AFTU Messages from the

Continental Unions

Gen. Ahmed Fouly President, African Taekwondo Union As the Olympic year 2016 is coming to an end, it is once more time to reflect on what we achieved and to evaluate the outcome of our targets. The year 2016 was definitely a great year for the AFTU. It started out with the African Qualification Tournament in Agadir, Morocco, which resulted in 11 countries qualifying for the 2016 Olyumpic Games. Many events followed, which paved the way for our athletes to Rio: The Third Luxor Open in March, the Senior African Championship in May, as well as the 1st Para Taekwondo Open and 3rd African Poomsae Championship. Of coure, the absolute highlight in 2016 and a terrific achievement for the AFTU was the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, held Aug. 17-20, 2016 in the Carioca Arena. An unprecedented victory for our African athletes with five Olympic medals caused a deserved euphoria in African media. Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Tunis and Egypt were the proud donors of the five African Olympic medals: one gold, one silver and three bronzes. Developing African referees is an absolute priority, and we will be organizing an IRS &IRRC for kyorugi and poomsae in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, to further improve their skills. In 2017, we are planning another busy year, with the G1 Gorilla Open in Rwanda, alongside the 2nd African Para Taekwondo Open, and a G1 International Open in Gabon. I offer special thanks to WTF President Chungwon Choue for his continuous support of the AFTU, and for helping us implement the values we cherish so much in taekwondo: discipline, respect and fairness. Finally and above all, let me thank all those who made our African victory possible: our athletes, our coaches, our referees, our officials and all their families.

248 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

ATU

ETU

Kyu-seok Lee President, Asian Taekwondo Union

Athanasios Pragalos President, European Taekwondo Union

The Asian Taekwondo Union saw multiple developments with the new poomsae, the entry of poomsae competiton into the 2018 Asian Games, and integrated education. In 2016, we held 10 events in Asia with the major ones held in the Philippines. Other events were held in UAE, Iran, Palestine, and Korea.

I am writing to convey my very best wishes and sincere thanks to all of you as we shift into the next calendar year. Reflecting on 2016, the ETU had plentiful reasons to be proud, as the past 12 months were marked by significant achievements and changes. Among them, the quality upgrade of the European Championships, the introduction of coach seminars in continuing education, the development of new means of communication and live TV broadcasting of our major events, combined with the overall strengthening of the ETU's online presence - all indicating that the ETU will continue to advance as a dynamic CU.

The appointment of new committee members took place on July 9 at Gachon University in Korea with 150 participants in attendance. The goal of the appointments was to ensure that the secretariat leads the globalization and development of taekwondo in Asia under the guidance of the WTF. The new poomsae, cooperatively developed by the Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism, the Korea Sport Promotion Foundation, the Kukkiwon, the World Taekwondo Federation, and the Korea Taekwondo Association, was launched at a New Poomsae Seminar in September at the Taekwondowon in Muju, Korea. Thirty MNAs and 150 national coaches and athletes attended. In November, the adoption of poomsae into the 2018 Asian Games with a total of sixteen weight classes for the kyorugi event and a total of five categories for the poomsae event promises a new beginning in 2018. Following, we held a New Poomsae Media Day where the development of the new poomsae and the results of the New Poomsae Seminar were discussed. In December, the ATU successfully co-hosted, with the WTF International Referee Seminar and Refresher Course, an Integrated Education course where our first Coach License Seminar was provided to our MNAs at the Saemaul Undong Center, Seongnam-si, Korea for over 700 referees and coaches. In 2017, new developments will flourish. Coach License education will be available for other MNAs to host. And we will hold a diverse number of championships across the continent - from Iran to Korea to UAE.

In 2017, the ETU aspires to sustain this progress. One of our fundamental objectives is to reinforce the promotion of the national G-ranking tournaments and keep on developing in the ETU coaches' education. It is very important to maintain a statistics database - sport and media wise - so that we can reinvent operational procedures. Also, WTF President Chungwon Choue has very exceptionally upgraded the social responsibility of the federation through the establishment and activities of the THF. Therefore, a major concern is to become more socially aware and more supportive of these programs. And we will continue our efforts to network with the global taekwondo family and fans through social media and - of course! - through taekwondo events. To that end, our focus is on extending our audience dynamic, while also maintaining and upgrading our strategic alliances and partners, such as Daedo, which has been supporting us all these years. The ETU– and all of you who are part of it – will continue to make us proud in 2017. The European taekwondo family is a great family. Thank you for helping to make the past year so memorable and I invite you to join me in what we are going to accomplish together in 2017. I wish you a happy new year!

OTU John Kotsifas President, Oceania Taekwondo Union The last 12 months have been extremely busy, with numerous world-ranked events conducted in the Oceania region as well as numerous education initiatives. In 2016, the OTU pursued initiatives for additional funds to be made available to all member nations to assist them in their development and to promote our sport. Furthermore, the OTU has argued that the current Olympic qualification system needs to change, particularly for Tokyo 2020, to ensure that more Olympic slots are allocated to Oceania. I am sure that in 2020, member nations which have never qualified will make it to Tokyo. Rio 2016 saw eight Oceania athletes qualify. All showed the world that they are competitive up to, and including, the Olympic level. There were many historic moments. Tonga qualified for the first time and Pita Taufatofua became a worldwide sensation who now has over 150,000 social media followers worldwide. Such is the power of the Olympics. Our education initiatives continued in 2016 and will grow further in 2017 with a new curriculum being developed in consultation with the WTF, and a range of new coaching accreditation courses. The first President's Cup was held in Oceania in 2016: a great success. The WTF president attended the event in Canberra, Australia, and also visited Papua New Guinea in February for the Oceania Olympic qualification event. The 2016 Oceania Championships and the 2nd Oceania Para Open Championships were held in Suva, Fiji - the first time such an event had been held in Fiji. In 2017 we will see Auckland, New Zealand host a number of important events between 13-14 May, including the 1st New Zealand Open G2 event, the 3rd Oceania Open, Para Open and the 2017 Oceania Junior Championships. And record numbers of MNAs will compete at the Muju World Championships, thanks to the organizing committee’s generous financial assistance for Oceania athletes to attend a training camp and the event itself. Good luck to all in 2017!

PATU Ji-ho Choi President, Pan American Taekwondo Union We have a very exciting year ahead of us as two G-2 and six G-1 events are already planned for 2017. We will be holding the Pan Am Junior Poomsae and Kyorugi Championships, and the Pan Am Para Taekwondo Championships. As we begin another quadrennial, we will hold our biannual General Assembly prior to the Pan Am Juniors. A new group of PATU Executive Committee members that will serve the 2017~2020 quadrennial will be elected in Muju, Korea in June. Please plan ahead to participate in the executive committee election. Please note upcoming 2017 events. WTF G Ranking Events: U.S. Open (Jan.), Colombia Open (March), Pan Am Open (April.), Argentina Open (Sept.), Costa Rica Open (Sept.), Canada Open (Sept.), Mexico Open (TBD), and WTF President’s Cup (Oct.) Multi-Sports Games: 2017 Managua Central American Games, Qualification Tournament for 2018 Cochabamba ODESUR Games, 2018 Barranquilla Central & Caribbean Games PATU Events: Pan Am Cadet and Junior Poomsae and Kyorugi Championships, and Pan Am ParaTKD Championships WTF & PATU Educational Seminars and Courses: WTF IR Refresher Course: TBA. WTF/ PATU Coach Permit Courses: Prior to various PATU and WTF G Events. PATU Referee Committee Training Camp: TBA. PATU Poomsae and Kyorugi Referee Certification Courses: Prior to various PATU and WTF G Events. PATU Instructor Licensing Course: Various MNAs On the business front, PATU has renewed our agreement with Daedo in Spain for a period of four years. Accordingly, all PATU events in 2017~2020 will use Daedo PSS. I am very pleased to provide upgraded services to all coaches, along with the WTF and other CUs, to upgrade our sport globally. Part 4 | Around the WTF 249


WTF Event Calendar 2017

Part 4 _ Around the WTF

Date Januray 21-22 January 31- February 3

Michael Fysentzidis Elected as New President of International Olympic Academy

“It is a great honor that the majority elected me as a president of the International Olympic Academy,” said Fysentzidis. “I aspire that, through my new responsibilities I will continue to serve the sporting world and the Olympic ideal," he continued. "Primarily with

“There are 206 presidents of National Olympic Committees, yet internationally, there is only one president of the Olympic Academy," said ETU President Sakis Pragalos.

G-2/G-2

July 18-30

2017 U.S. Open Taekwondo Championship

Chuncheon, Korea Samsun, Turkey

August

TBD

August 18-19

Accra, Ghana

August 19-31

Taipei,

(TKD: 20-26)

Chinese Taipei

2017 Asian Para Taekwondo Open

G-4/G-2

23rd Summer Deaflympics

N/A

2017 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix

G-1 N/A

February 6-9

Antalya, Turkey

European Clubs Championships 2017

G-1

February 11-14

Antalya, Turkey

Turkish Open

G-2/G-2

February 17-19

Luxor city, Egypt

4th Egypt Open 2017

G-2

February 23-25

Fujairah, UAE

The 5th Fujairah Open

G-1

February 25-26

Maribor, Slovenia

Slovenia Open

G-1

Cancelled

Doha, Qatar

The 3rd Qatar Open

G-1

March 4-5

Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia Open 2017

G-1

September

TBD

Eindhoven,

44th Lotto Dutch Open Taekwondo

Netherlands

Championships 2017

G-1

September or October

Uzbekistan

1st WTF President's Cup - Asian region

Bogota,

2017 Colombia Open International

San Jose, Costa

2017 Costa Rica Open International

Colombia

Taekwondo Championships

Rica

Taekwondo Championships

Lommel, Belgium

Belgian Open 2017

Buenos Aires,

2017 Argentina Open International

Argentina

Taekwondo Championships

March 31-April 2

Kigali City, Rwanda Kigali City, Rwanda

G-1 G-1/G-1

Rwanda's Gorilla Open 2017

G-1

2017 African Para Taekwondo Open

G-4/G-2

August 19-31

September 1-3 September 1-3

The 9th Asian Junior Championships

G-2

4th Asian Junior Poomsae Championships

N/A

Sari, Iran

The 7th Asian Club Championships

G-1

September 28-30

Atyrau,

Kazakhstan Open Taekwondo

G-1/G-1

April 27-30

Athens, Greece

April 30

Valenciana, Spain

May 5

TBD

May 5-7

Rhodes, Greece

May 12-14

Kharkiv, Ukraine

May 12-22 (TKD 16-18)

May 13-14

May 20-21 June 3-4 June 10-11 June 17-18 June 18

Baku, Azerbaijan

Taekwondo Championships 2nd WTF President's Cup - European region Spanish Open 2017 2017 6th European Para-Taekwondo Open 1st WTF World Taekwondo Beach Championships Ukraine Open Cup G-1

G-1/G-1 G-2/G-2

European Senior Championships Olympic

G-4 G-2 G-1/G-1 G-1

September 24-26

Nepal

Weight Categories

The 3rd Mt. Everest International Open Taekwondo Championships

G-1

G-1

Ramallah,

Palestine Open Taekwondo

Palestine

Championships

September 28 -

Montreal,

2017 Canada Open International

October 1

Canada

Taekwondo Championships

October 5-8

Las Vegas, USA

October 7-8

Riga, Latvia

Riga Open 2017

G-1

October 14-15

Belgrade, Serbia

Galeb Belgrade Trophy-Serbia Open 2017

G-1

G-1

2017 WTF President's Cup - Pan Am region

7th WTF World Para-Taekwondo

G-1 G-1/G-1 G-2/G-2

October 19

London, UK

October 20-22

London, UK

G-1

October 27-30

Xian, China

November

Athens, Greece

Greece Open 2017

G-1

November 2-4

Larnaca, Cyprus

European Junior Championships 2017

G-2

November 11-12

Zagreb, Croatia

23rd Croatia Open

G-1

G-4/G-2 TBD

Championships 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Series 3 2017 China Open International Taekwondo Championships

G-10 G-4 G-1/G-1

Islamic Solidarity Games 2017

G-1

2017 New Zealand Open

G-2

Auckland,

3rd Oceania Para Taekwondo Open

G-4/G-2

New Zealand

3rd Oceania Poomsae Open

G-4

November 18-19

Paris, France

2017 Oceania Junior Championships

G-2

November 26-27

Ramla, Israel

15th Israeal Open

G-1

G-1

December 1-3

Minsk, Belarus

Belarus Open 2017

G-1

Sharjah, UAE

2017 IWAS World Games

G-6

Chisinau, Moldova Innsbruck, Austria Luxembourg Vienna, Austria

June 24-30

Muju, Korea

July

TBD

July 4-18

2017 Pan Am Open International

Grand-Prix Series 2

G-1

Kazakhstan

Acapulco, Mexico

2017 WTF World Taekwondo

G-1/G-1

Atyrau,

April 20-23

G-1

Polish Open-Warsaw Cup

G-2

G-1/G-1

29th South East Asian (SEA) Games

Russia Open 2017

1st WTF President's Cup - African region

The 28th Fajr Open

G-2/G-2

Warsaw, Poland

Agadir, Morocco

Championships

30th Summer Universiade

Moscow, Russia

April 7-9

Sari, Iran

G-1

September 16-17

N/A

Kazakhstan

Championships

September 14-17 European Under 21 Championships 2017

April 16-17

Malaysia

Ghana Open International

G-4

Minsk, Belarus

Sofia, Bulgaria

April 14-16

Kuala Lumpur,

Series 1

September 7-9

April 6-9

July 2-7

250 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

July 8

G

European Kids Championships 2017

March 17-19

For more information please visit: http://ioa.org.gr/

G-1

Event

2017 U.S. Open Para Taekwondo G-1

March 14-22

About IOA: The International Olympic Academy functions as a multicultural interdisciplinary center that aims at studying, enriching and promoting Olympism. The institution was inspired by the ancient gymnasium, which shaped the Olympic ideal by harmoniously cultivating body, will and mind.

German Open 2017

Place

Antalya, Turkey

April 13-14

He had eight years (1996-2004) as a deputy member and 13 more as a regular member of the Hellenic Olympic Committee. As an active contributor to the sporting world, Fysentzidis disseminates in the taekwondo world the same IOA principles, appraising educational values through sports.

Las Vegas, USA

Date

Las Vegas, USA

March 11-12

"The recognition that Michael Fysentzidis has received in winning such a significant position is a great distinction for the world taekwondo family, and especially for the ETU," Pragalos added. "On behalf of the ETU Council I would like to wish him prosperous days in his new duties.”

Germany

G

February 4-5

April 11-13

modesty, but principally with vigor, to fulfill our potential and to survey, elaborate and implement innovative ideas of educational benefit to athleticism – always aligned with the Pierre de Coubertin initiatives.”

Hamburg,

Event

February 1

April 1-2

On Feb. 6, 2017, during the general election of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Michael Fysentzidis, who is also the secretary general of the European Taekwondo Union, was elected as president of the International Olympic Academy (IOA). Fysentzidis was elected by popular vote, winning14 out of 25 votes cast. Spyros Capralos was also re-elected as president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee.

Place

(As of January 31, 2017)

Moldova Open 2017

November 30 Austrian Open 2017

G-1

LuxOpen 2017

G-1

2017 Austrian Poomsae Open

G-1

Austria Open Para Taekwondo Poomsae

G-1

2017 WTF World Taekwondo Championships 3rd WTF World Taekwondo Cadet Championships

Chuncheon,

Chuncheon Korea Open International

Korea

Championships

Jerusalem, Israel

20th Maccabiah Games

December 9 TBD

Vietnam

TBD

TBD

13th Tournoi International de Paris (French Open)

2nd Asian Cadet Championships & 2nd Asian Cadet Poomsae Championships European Poomsae Championships 2017 2017 Mexico Open International

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

European Cadet Championships 2017

Abidjan,

2017 WTF World Taekwondo Grand-Prix

Cote d'Ivoire

Final

Abidjan,

2017 WTF World Taekwondo Team

Cote d'Ivoire

Championships

Taekwondo Championships

G-1

N/A G-4 G-1

G-12 N/A

N/A December 2-3 G-2/G-2 G-1

December 5-7

G-8 G-2

251


OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE WORLD TAEKWONDO FEDERATION

2017

ISSUE NO.

104

ISSN 1599-3779

Publisher / Chungwon Choue

Editor-in-Chief / Magazine Director / Heesoo Noh Managing Editor / Andrew Salmon

2017

ISSUE NO.

104

O F F I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E W O R L D TA E K W O N D O F E D E R AT I O N

Editors / Pyunggil Lee, Jeong Yeon Lim

Contributing Photographers / Denis Sekretev, Emmanuel Hammond

Full Reports:

Designed by / Design Neurones

World Juniors World Poomsae Grand-Prix Final World Teams Gala Awards

The WTF is delighted to bring you the official publication of the federation.

Taekwondo Olympians: Ahmad Abughaush

The WTF Taekwondo magazine epitomizes our enthusiasm and progressive mindset in leading taekwondo and the WTF.

Empowering the Powerless: Taekwondo Cares Program and THF Help Refugees

Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin Raheleh Asemani Tijana Bogdanovic Jade Jones So-hui Kim Hye-ri Oh

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 the year, interviews with taekwondo stars and useful information on taekwondo.

Pita Taufatofua

© 2017 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.

252 TAEKWONDO Official Publication of the WTF

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