Olympic Taekwondo Rounds-up in great success!

Post date: Aug 13, 2012 1:20:20 PM

Europe leads the way as Taekwondo comes of age

Taekwondo broke new ground at London 2012, as the competition reached new heights.

Taekwondo winners celebrate

(L-R) Silver medallist Mohammad Bagheri Motamed of Islamic Republic of Iran, gold medallist Servet Tazegul of Turkey, bronze medallist Terrence Jennings of the United States and bronze medallist Rohullah Nikpah of Afghanistan celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's -68kg Taekwondo.

Gabon celebrates first medal in Olympic history

If there is one story that of the London 2012 Olympic Games that embodies the spirit, values, and ideals of Olympism, it is the final medal matches of the tekwondo competition.

Italian Carlo Molfetta won the men’s +80kg in one of the most dramatic and exciting matches of the London Games, and perhaps taekwondo’s Olympic history. But the rest of the story was that Anthony Obame of Gabon accomplished the unthinkable by winning his country the first-ever Olympic medal - a silver medal.

The two medalists embraced and raised each others’ hands in true sportsmanship and admiration for one another as their match was left to judges’ decision.

Obame maintained a lead throughout the gold-medal match against Italian Carlo Molfetta until late in the third round when Molfetta tied it up 9-9 pushing the match into the “golden point” overtime round. But neither competitor managed to score, and the decision eventually went to the judges and the two athletes endured an intense wait for the final verdict.

This was the second consecutive Olympics that taekwondo was the source of a nation’s first Olympic medal. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Rohullah Nikpah won Afghanistan’s first-ever medal following it up with the country’s second medal in London. Both were bronze and both were won after having to fight through repechage matches to get to the medal round.

But there was far more to the night to taekwondo’s fourth and final night in the London Games.

London 2012 was Serbia’s first appearance in taekwondo at the Olympic Games and it was golden.

Serbia’s Milica Mandic won her country’s first gold medal in London as she upset world No. 1 Anne-Caroline Graffe of France. The athletes took turns advancing and drawing even throughout the match. But in the end, it was Mandic that took the gold and Graffe with the silver.

To get to the final seventh-seed Serbia’s Milica Mandic stunned second-seed and Beijing Olympic gold medalist Maria Espinoza of Mexico to move to the semifinals. She then upset third-seeded Anastasia Baryshnikova of Russia in the semifinal match.

Mandic is the current world taekwondo bronze medalist.

Anastasia Baryshnikova from Russia took a bronze medal away from Korean contender In-Jong Lee by golden point after tying at official time 6-6. The hard fought match put the European gold medal champion in a position to take the bronze.

In Jong Lee had to qualify for the women’s +67kg bronze-medal match through repechage after finalist Graffe defeated her in a shocking and thrilling quarterfinal match. Lee was dominant in here preliminary and repechage matches, but couldn’t shake her Russian counterpart for the bronze.

Cuba’s Robellis Despaigne dominated his repechage match winning by point gap 14:2 at the end of round 2 to face off Mali’s giant Daba Modibo Keita for the first of two men’s bronze medal matches of the night. However, after an injury during his semifinal match against gold medalist Molfetta, he had to withdraw and Despaigne took the bronze.

Beijing Olympic gold medalist Maria del Rosario Espinoza of Mexico shutout her Samoan competitor Talitiga Crawley by point gap 13-0 to move onto to taking the second women’s +67kg bronze medal defeating Glenhis Hernandez of Cuba.

These Games were always going to be a landmark for the martial art, after a new electronic scoring system was introduced for the first time with video replays to make the competition more transparent and fair.

The fighters responded with some stunning displays in front of packed crowds in the 6,000-strong venue, with respect for the new procedures impeccably observed.

For the first time in Olympic Games Taekwondo, it was Europe who led the way, with Spain's Joel Gonzalez Bonilla setting the tone on the opening day in the Flyweight division as he added Olympic gold to his world title, while China's Wu Jingyu was one of the few returning champions to successfully defend their crown in the -49kg.

The home crowd were in full voice on day two as they roared Wales teenager Jade Jones on to gold in the -57kg, as she beat Tseng Li-Cheng of Chinese Taipei, the world number one, and then Chinese fighter Hou Yuzhuo, the 2011 world champion in the final.

Turkey's top seed Servet Tazegul claimed the -68kg crown, before the tournament closed with more European dominance from the Heavyweights as Rome policemanCarlo Molfetta kicked his way to success, awarded on judge's decision after an epic final against Anthony Obame of Gabon.

Milica Mandic, 20, claimed Serbia's first Olympic gold since competing as an independent nation.

For Republic of Korea, though, London 2012 represented the end of their dominance since the martial art became part of the full Olympic Games programme at Sydney 2000.

Hwang Kyung Seon did retain her title in the -67kg division, but Lee Daehoon was beaten to gold by Gonzalez Bonilla.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Cha Dongmin failed to make the Heavyweight medal fights, while Lee In Jong suffered heartache when she was beaten on sudden-death score by Russian Anastasia Baryshnikova in the +67kg bronze contest as for the first time Korea did not return the full complement of four medals.

Obame's silver was, though, a first Olympic medal of any description for Gabon.

Sebastian Eduardo Crismanich's gold at -80kg saw him become Argentina's first Olympic Taekwondo champion - and return the South Americans' only gold from the Games.

Afghan fighter Rohullah Nikpah can, meanwhile, expect another hero's welcome back in Kabul after he beat GB's Martin Stamper in the -68kg bronze-medal contest, to emulate his achievements at Beijing 2008.

There was also a changing of the guard at ExCeL, where Britain's Olympic bronze medallist and two-time world champion Sarah Stevenson went out in the first round, while Beijing 2008 champion Maria del Rosario Espinoza from Mexico had to settle for bronze in the +67kg class.

USA legend Steven Lopez, 33, was unable to collect another Olympic medal from his fourth and probably final Games.

World Taekwondo Federation Secretary General Jean-Marie Ayer is in no doubt of London 2012's place in the history of Olympic Games Taekwondo.

'It really has been an amazing four days of competition,' he said.

'So many countries made history here by getting their first medals in the sport of Taekwondo, and some even their first or only medals of their Games.

'I think it is fair to say that the London 2012 competition has been the best Olympic Taekwondo competition yet - just as we said it would be.

'Anyone who has been here, and heard the noise, and seen the flags will tell you the same thing: the atmosphere has been very, very special.'

The challenge has certainly been set for Taekwondo to raise the bar again at Rio 2016.

Sources: LOCOG & WTF