- Taekwondo at the 2008 Summer Olympics
Taekwondocompetitions at the 2008 Summer Olympicsin Beijingwere held from August 20to August 23at the Beijing Science and Technology University Gymnasium. 128 Taekwondo practitioners, 64 men and 64 women, competed in 8 events.
South Koreadominated this competition by winning 4 gold medals in the 4 events they participated. Hadi Saeirepeated as champion and along with Steven Lopez, they were the only 2 Taekwondo practitioners who won medal in a streak of 3 Olympics. Chu Mu-Yenand Alexandros Nikolaidisalso won a medal for the second time. Rohullah Nikpaibecame the first Afghan Olympics medalist. Sarah Stevensonfinally won a medal in her third Olympics appearance, eliminating two-time gold medalist Chen Zhongin an unprecedented result overturn.
The taekwondo competition at the Olympic Games consists of a
single eliminationtournament. Change has been made as the IOC decided to award two bronze medals in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. However, the repechagesystem will be maintained and the difference will be that both winners of the respective repechage matches will receive a bronze medal.http://www.wtf.org/site/wtf/notice.htm?realnum=149&page=9&keyword=&part=&mode=view|1]
Daba Modibo Keitaof Mali, Deepak Bistaof Nepal, Sheikha Maitha Al Maktoum of United Arab Emirates, Nesar Ahmad Bahaveof Afghanistan, Miguel Ferreraof Honduras & Bineta Diedhiouof Senegal all have the honor of being taekwondo practitioners to have carried their nation's flag in the opening ceremony. [cite news|url=http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_1344.pdf |title=List of flagbearers Beijing 2008]
On August 23 the quarterfinal match in the Women's +67 kg between
Sarah Stevensonof Great Britain and China's Chen Zhong, the defending gold medalist from Sydney and Athens, was plagued with controversy. Chen Zhong had led 1-0 through most of the match but 4 seconds before the end, Stevenson landed a clear strike to the face of her opponent. However, only half the judges recorded the hit and thus was not registered, dashing Stevenson's olympic hopes of gaining her the two points that would have secured her a quick victory. Stevenson's coach was furious and protested to the referee and judges, but initially Zhong was awarded the match. The British team protested for over an hour and on seeing the clear video footage of the strike to the face, unprecedently in the sport of Taekwondo, the judges decision was repealed and it was Stevenson who went through to the semi-finals against the Mexican Maria del Rosario Espinoza. Espinoza however, with a disoriented crowd looking on at the loss of their Chinese gold medal hope, secured a clear victory over the unprepared Stevenson and went on to win gold, whilst Stevenson took bronze in the bronze medal match against the Egyptian Noha Abd Rabo.
On announcing the change of result in the quarter final, the tournament director said:
Canadian medal hopeful, Ivett Gonda, lost 2-0 to Sweden's Hanna Zajc on the first day of competition despite Ivett's visible domination of the match. Her coach speculated that it is possible that the judge's scoring machines were possibly broken, he also speculated that another reason could be that the Chinese judge wanted to prevent Gonda from facing the Chinese competitor in the next round (who later easily beat Zajc on her way to the medal).
A protest was sent out and was subsequently denied. Many coaches, not only the Canadian coach, were shocked at the loss. Cite web|url=http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/taekwondo/story/2008/08/19/f-olympics-taekwondo-gonda.html|title=Judging questioned after Canada's Gonda loses 1st taekwondo matchaccessyear=2008|accessmonthday=August 20|publisher=CBC|year=2008|author=CBCSPORTS|language=English]
The bronze medal match in the men's 80+ kg class saw Cuban gold medallist from Sydney in 2000
Angel Matosagainst Kazakhstan's Arman Chilmanov.cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/aug/24/olympics2008.olympicstaekwondo|title=Cuban banned after assault on referee] After he incurred an injury in the fight (at which point he led the match 3-2), he subsequently took a Kyeshi. Under World Taekwondo Federationtournament rules players sustaining injury are allowed one minute of Kyeshi time, at the end of which the competitor in question must return to the center of the ring to resume the fight or request further time, or else forfeit the match. [cite web|url=http://www.wtf.org/site/rules/competition.htm#19|title=The World Taekwondo Federation] Swedish referee Chakir Chelbat gave a time warning at 40 seconds, but Kyeshi elapsed without Matos returning to the center. The referee ruled while he was sitting awaiting medical attention that he had taken too long during his time out and subsequently disqualified him. "To me it was obvious he was unable to continue," his opponent Arman Chilmanovof Kazakhstan said. "His toe on his left foot was broken." [cite web|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/sports/olympics/24taekwondo.html|title=Cuban athlete is barred for kicking referee’s face] After Chilmanov was declared the winner, Matos briefly argued and then delivered a kick to the face of the referee, drawing blood from the referee's mouth, then pushed or punched a judge and spat on the arena floor.cite web | title = Cuban attacks judge after losing bronze in taekwondo | url=http://www.foxsports.com.au/beijing_olympics/story/0,27313,24231037-5016792,00.html | accessdate = 2008-08-23 | publisher=AFP/Fox ] cite news
title=Cuban taekwondo athlete banned after kicking ref
last=Talmadge] [cite news | url = http://www.nbcolympics.com/taekwondo/news/newsid=251304.html | title = Kicked out: Cuban banned for life | publisher =
NBC Sports| date = August 23, 2008| accessdate = 2008-08-23 ] Given alleged poor judging during the Olympics, which left many competitors raging in injustice, the crowd watching the event chanted "Cuba" and applauded him and his coach. [cite web|url=http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/sports/2008/08/253_29893.html|title=Poor judging hurts Taekwondo]
A statement released by the
World Taekwondo Federationreferred to the incident as a "strong violation of the spirit of taekwondo and the Olympic Games," ordered all reports of his participation in the 2008 Olympics to be struck from the records, and imposed a lifetime ban preventing him and his coach, González, from participation in any future World Taekwondo Federation events. [cite news |first= Ian|last= Ransom|title= Cuban banned for referee kick|url= http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Olympics/idUSPEK30514420080823|publisher= Reuters|date= 2008-08-23|accessdate=2008-08-24] [cite web|url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aSGpc2ezfJpI&refer=home|title=Cuban Taekwondo champ faces ban for kicking Olympic ref in head]
Fidel Castro defended Angel Matos by saying Angel Matos was rightfully indignant over his disqualification from the bronze-medal match. "I saw when the judges blatantly stole fights from two Cuban boxers in the semifinals," Castro wrote. "Our fighters ... had hopes of winning, despite the judges, but it was useless. They were condemned beforehand." [cite news | title= Fidel Castro Defends Angel Matos' Actions | url= http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/olympics/2008/08/25/bc.cuba.castro.olympics.ap/index.html?eref=si_latest]
Allegations of mismanagement and intimidation
An incident in the men's 80 kg competition may prove to have a more lasting impact on the sport. American
Steven Lopez, the two-time defending gold medalist in that class who had not lost a match since 2002, had one point taken away by the referee in the third period of his quarterfinal match against Italy's Mauro Sarmiento. The referee determined that Lopez had used an illegal "cut kick" (blocked an opponent's blow below the waist). The deduction turned Lopez' 2–1 lead to a 1–1 tie, and Lopez lost in sudden-death overtime. USA coach Herb Perez unsuccessfully protested the decision, asserting that Lopez had raised his left leg in defense and Sarmiento had kicked into the leg in an attempt to draw the deduction.
In the wake of the decision, Perez leveled serious charges against the sport's governing body, the
World Taekwondo Federation:cite news|url=http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/taekwondo/news?slug=cr-lopez082208&prov=yhoo&type=lgns |title=Lopez takes fight to taekwondo federation |first=Charles |last=Robinson |publisher=Yahoo! Sports |date=2008-08-22 |accessdate=2008-08-23]
* He claimed that the protest was not properly handled. Typically, decisions on protests must be made within 15 minutes. No response was made for 45 minutes.
* He also stated that the US team received no indication why the protest was deemed "unacceptable". According to Perez, "Unacceptable could mean anything from we didn’t file the papers properly to we didn’t use the right color pencil… Under the WTF competition rules, we should have been notified about the decision, the criteria, the methodology used, what evidence was presented, and what referees were reviewing it. We were not.”
* Perez also said that at a June 2008 conference, the heads of the 25 teams that were to compete in Beijing were asked to sign an agreement not to file any protests at the Games.
* After his protest was denied, Perez alleged that WTF officials approached him and asked him not to talk to the press.
Charles Robinson, a writer for Yahoo! Sports in the US, called the events surrounding Lopez' match "a chaotic episode that might ultimately prove to be the tipping point to Olympic doom," adding that it had been widely rumored that taekwondo was on the brink of being removed from the Olympic program.
* [http://www.wtf.org/ World Taekwondo Federation]
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