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2012 Olympic Taekwondo Summary

2012 Olympic Taekwondo Summary

Olympic Taekwondo 2012

2012 Olympic Taekwondo Competition...in Less Than 5 Minutes
Don’t want to bother with all the blah, blah, blah? Here’s a short clip summarizing the taekwondo action in a variety of divisions at the 2012 London Games.
Watch now: Taekwondo Review - London 2012 Olympic Games (3:22)

No talk. Just action, action, action:
Watch now: The Best Taekwondo Olympic Games 2012 (2:23)

 

 Our Impressions

After several hours of intense study, here’s our impressions of the Olympic taekwondo competition and the effects of the new rules: more upsets, more exciting action.
 

Gold Medals All Around...    Athletes from eight different countries won gold medals in the eight separate divisions. Whereas in 2008, Korea won four gold medals, this year it won only one (and a silver), and no country won more than three total medals. Other countries winning gold were Spain, China, Turkey, Great Britain, Italy, Argentia, and Serbia. And, like Afghanistan in 2008, Anthony Obame won Gabon’s very first Olympic medal (silver, Men’s Heavyweight).
 

 
...Except for the USA.    Only one U.S. athlete made it to the quarterfinal rounds, Paige McPherson (South Dakota). She and Terrence Jennings (Virginia) both won bronze medals. The Lopez siblings, Diana and Steven, were beaten in each of their preliminary matches leading to questions about their health and whether this is an end of an era for U.S. taekwondo.
 

 
Techniques & Strategies.    With new rules come new strategies and reliance on alternative techniques. Effective strategies included using the lead leg much, much more for sticking and stopping the opponent with a cut-kick or snapping with a roundhouse kick. Another technique used by various competitors was roundhouse kicks to the head, and then, rather than continuing the motion forward through to the ground, instead bringing the foot back to the head for a point. Or, kicking to the body, holding the leg up, pulling it back, and then sticking another kick to the head.
 

 
Coach Appeals & Video Replay.    Although the action stops during a coach’s appeal, having the video replay both helps keep the points on-track and the audience involved. Just like the NFL, there is justice for a good kick and points should be awarded (or, substracted as the case may be).

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 Women’s Finweight (under-49kg)
 

On the first day of competition, Jingyu Wu (China), a two-time world champion, successfully defended her 2008 Olympic title by defeating Brigitte Yague Enrique (Spain) — a three-time world champion who missed the Beijing Olympics due to injury — with a score of 8-1 in three rounds. Wu, 25, dominated the competition throughout the day defeating her opponents with scores of 10-2 (preliminary), 14-0 (quarterfinal), and 19-7 (semifinal) on her way to the final match with Enrique.

Enrique, 31, the third seed at -49kg, sailed through the competition until she faced seventh seeded Chanatip Sonkham (Thailand) in her semifinal match. Enrique had to come from a six point deficit in the third round for a dramatic 10-9 win.

Against Enrique, Wu displayed powerful lead leg axe and wicked roundhouse kicks. Wu’s tight defense — effectively using her arms to cover her body and head — prevented Enrique from scoring until getting her sole point the third round. A match well worth seeing on video replay.

Sonkham, and Lucija Zaninovic (Croatia) each won bronze medals in the repechage. Sonkham easily defeated Elizabeth Zamora, 8-0. Zaninovic, 25, the 2012 European champion, had a dramatic finish with a golden-point overtime win for the bronze.
Watch now: Highlights: 2012 Women’s -49kg Taekwondo Final (2:17)
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Women’s -49kg Taekwondo Final (14:15)

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 Men’s Finweight (under-58kg)
 

Joel Gonzalez Bonilla (Spain), a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time World and European Champion, came into the Olympics as the number one seed in his division. In fact, he held the highest number of ranking points of any of the number one seeds. Yet, he still had a very tough time in his preliminary match against Uno Sanli (Sweden), needing a last second point to win. His subsequent matches went much better to reach the finals.

Daehoon Lee (Korea), the current world champion at 63kg, and unranked at under-58kg, had several challenging matches including two golden-point challenges and narrowly defeating Alexey Denisenko (Russia) by one point to reach the final match.

Bonilla, 22, and Lee offered an exciting final match with the Spaniard leading 5-2 as the first round ended with a three-point head kick being scored following video review. In the second round, Lee, came back 5-4 before Bonilla unleashed a flurry of kicks to end the round leading 8-4. In the third round, Bonilla maintained his four four point lead, 11-7, and finished strong by unloading a three-point head shot in the final seconds to end with a final score of 17-8.

Denisenko and Oscar Munoz Oviedo (Colombia) won the bronze medals. Denisenko, aged 18 years and 344 days became the youngest Olympic taekwondo medallist surpassing the age of the previous youngest medallist Servet Tazegul (Turkey) who at 19 years and 330 days won bronze in 2008. Denisov defeated Salwan Khalil (Australia) 3-1. Oviedo won his country’s first Olympic medal in taekwondo by defeating Tamer Bayoumi (Egypt).
Watch now: Highlights: 2012 Men’s -58kg Taekwondo Final (2:18)
Watch now: Full Replay 2012 Men’s -58kg Taekwondo Final (18:11)

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 Women’s Featherweight (under-57kg)
 

Diana Lopez (Texas), 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and 2005 World Champion, lost in the first round to eventual finalist and two-time World Champion, Yushuo Huo (China). Then, in her repecharge match, Lopez lost to Suvi Mikkonen (Finland) and left London without a medal.

Lopez later confided that she injured her knee a few months prior, but it was confusing as to when her knee was reinjured on Thursday. Her coach and brother, Jean Lopez, said she reinjured the knee before the first fight; Diana herself said she felt a “pop” in her second match. Following an MRI at the Olympic Village, the injury was identified as a deep root meniscus tear.

In the repecharge matches, Marlene Harnois (France) “won her stunning match against Mayu Hammada (Japan) with a thrilling last second head kick that put her up 12 to 8 to clinch her bronze medal.” Tseng Li-Cheng (Taipei) dominated Suvi Mikkonen (Finland) “in the second women’s bronze-medal match winning by point gap 25 seconds into the third round with a score of 14 to 2.”
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Women’s -57kg Taekwondo Bronze (2:11)

 
Finals: Jones (Great Britain) v. Huo (China)
After destroying both opponents in the preliminary and quarterfinal rounds, 15-1 and 13-3, respectively, Jade Jones, the Youth Olympic Games gold medallist from Singapore 2010, faced top-rated Li-Cheng Tseng (Taiwan) in the semi-finals. In a very close match, Tseng led 2-1 at the end of two rounds and was still ahead, 3-2, with 45 seconds remaining in the match. Then, with 23 seconds left, Jones scored with two quick kicks followed by a penalty by Tseng making the score, 5-3. Tseng then unloaded a head kick that did not score. The coach’s appeal was denied, and Tseng was left to charge ahead whereupon Jones picked up additional points with solid defensive kicks ending the match at 10-6, Great Britain.

In the finals, Jones faced Hou, in a rematch of 2011’s World Championship match in which Hou was victorious. Huo displayed the characteristic ease of movement of the Chinese fighters — accomplished footwork and formidable kicking accuracy and speed. Jones, however, did not wait around to marvel at her opponent’s skill. With the home crowd roaring in support, Jones was on the attack took the initiative against Huo using both her lead and rear leg. Early in the the match, Huo defended well, but was pressured by Jones’ early points from her solid lead leg kicks. Huo was discouraged from pressing any kind of attack. In the third round, both fighters mixed it up, but Jones held on for the win, 6-4, and became Great Britain’s first taekwondo Olympic gold medalist.
Watch now: Highlights: 2012 Women’s -57kg Taekwondo Final (2:11)
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Women’s -57kg Taekwondo Final (16:04)

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 Men’s Featherweight (under-68kg)
 

This was a division filled with exciting, dynamic, and daring fighters.

In his first match, Terrence Jennings (Virginia) faced the division favorite, Servet Tazegul (Turkey), an incredibly dynamic fighter, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, and current World Champion. Jennings already had experience fighting Tazegul having lost to the Turk in a 2010 Olympic Qualifier. Although clearly the underdog, Jennings tried to keep up with Tazegul’s speed and repetoire of kicks eventually losing the match, 8-6.

However, Jennings led the way to exciting series of matches for bronze and gold. In the repecharge match, Jennings faced Diogo Silva (Brazil) “in a powerfully dynamic match, Jennings won with a last second head kick to take the lead and claim the prize 8 to 5.”

In the other repecharge match, Rohullah Nikpah (Afghanistan) faced Martin Stamper (Great Britain) “in one of the most dramatic matches of the night. Just as Jennings before him, he also come to the bronze-medal match by way of repechage and overcame host country favorite Stamper 5 to 3 to acquire Afghanistan's only second medal in Olympic history.” Nikpah won Afghanistan's first taekwondo Olympic medal (bronze) in 2008 Beijing.
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Men’s -68kg Taekwondo Bronze (16:31)

 
Finals: Tazegul (Turkey) v. Motamed (Iran)
In a rematch of the finals of the 2011 World Championships, the #1 versus the #2 seeded fighters did not disappoint. It was a classic match-up of two dynamic competitors, each unwilling to give in to the other. For example, Mohammad Baghrei Motamed scored 1 point with a quick left leg roundhouse kick, but Tazegul quickly whipped around with a back kick to the body for 2 points. Pow (Score: 4-3, Turkey). Tazegul won the very close match, 6-5, and won Turkey’s first taekwondo Olympic gold medal.
Watch now: Highlights: 2012 Men’s -68kg Taekwondo Final (1:43)
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Men’s -68kg Taekwondo Final (13:41)

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 Women’s Middleweight (under-67kg)
 

Paige McPherson (South Dakota) started off well by being the only competitor from the United States to make it out of the preliminary rounds. And, she did it in dramatic fashion by upsetting 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and former World Champion, Sarah Stevenson (Great Britain), 8-5.

A couple of times, McPherson kicked with her lead leg to Stephenson’s body, held it in the air, and then came up high to the head. The first time, Stephenson’s coach challenged the three points awarded to McPherson; the challenge was upheld, and the score reset (no points for McPherson). The second time, the points remained on the board.

Although McPherson lost her next match to eventual finalist, Nur Tatar (Turkey), 6-1, she ended up in the repecharge bracket for a chance for a bronze medal. She won her repecharge match against Andrea St Bernard (Grenada) in convincing fashion, 15-3, to gain the bronze medal match against Franka Anic (Slovenia). McPherson won bronze in , 8-3, she did just that: winning bronze.

In the other bronze medal match, Helena Fromm (Germany), the current World bronze medalist and who lost to eventual finalist, Hwang, in the quarterfinals, defeated Carmen Marton (Australia).
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Women’s -67kg Taekwondo Bronze (14:31)

 
Finals: Hwang (Korea) v. Tatar (Turkey)
Hwang, the returning 2008 Olympic Champion and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, shutout her opponent in the semifinal match, 7-0, to reach the finals to face the 19-year-old Tatar. Within seconds of the start of the match, both women did simultaneous axe kicks with Hwang going down but being awarded 3 points. The Turkish coach quickly appealed, and the result was Tatar also being awarded 3 points for her axe kick (Score: 3-3). Throughout the remainder of the round, Hwang’s rear leg roundhouse kick was sharp, and she scored two more points by the end of the round (5-3, Korea).

In Round 2, the Korean coach appealed a head kick and Hwang was awarded 3 points: Hwang’s left leg roundhouse missed but she returned her foot back towards Tatar’s face and made contact (8-3, Korea). Hwang also displayed a wicked quick and accurate roundhouse kick adding points to the end of the round (11-4).

In the final seconds of Round 3 (12-5), Hwang coasted into the gold medal to become taekwondo’s first woman three-time Olympic medalist.
Watch now: Highlights: 2012 Women’s -67kg Taekwondo Final (3:23)
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Women’s -67kg Taekwondo Final (17:59)

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 Men’s Middleweight (under-80kg)
 

Steven Lopez (Texas), 2-time Olympic gold medalist, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, and 5-time World Champion, had a very disappointing Olympics. He lost his first and only match of the day against number one seed, Ramin Azizov (Azerbaijan). Like his sister, Diana, it turns out he was nursing a hidden injury, a severly twisted ankle from a couple weeks prior. Later in the day, another injury was discovered: a broken fibula.

Being the oldest athlete in the taekwondo competition at 33, speculation was that aside from age, Lopez was simply too invested in his style of taekwondo and could not adapt to a new style favored under the new rule changes. This thought was strongly added when Karami (Iran), another seasoned competitor, also lost in the first round.

 
Sebastian Crismanich (Argentina).    In a cautious final, Crismanich defeated Nicolas Garcia (Spain). Content to block each other's kicks, the score was 0-0 heading into the final seconds of the match when Crismanich scored to the body for the only point. Crismanich won both Argentina’s first taekwondo Olympic gold medal and its first gold medal of the 2012 Olympics.
Watch now: Highlights: 2012 Men’s -80kg Taekwondo Final (3:13)
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Men’s -80kg Taekwondo Final (15:32)

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 Women’s Heavyweight (+67kg)
 

Still reviewing the video...
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Women’s +67kg Taekwondo Final (12:48)

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 Men’s Heavyweight (+80kg)
 

This was a surprising competition filled with many exceptional performances. In the preliminary rounds, two-time Olympic silver medalist (2004, 2008), 6' 7" Alexandros Nikolaidis (Greece) dwarfed six-foot Bahri Tanrikulu (Turkey), a 2-time World Champion (his last championship won in 2009). Turkey wouldn't back down. With the score at 2-1, Greece, Turk whipped out a back kick that knocked the giant Nikolaidis down. The Greek coach quickly appealed, was denied and the points remained on the board: 5-1, Turkey. Nikolaidis couldn't make up the point spread lost the match, 6-1, ending “his Olympic silver mine.”

Also in a preliminary round, defending Olympic champion, Dongmin Cha (Korea) faced (Slovenia). At the end of round 1, the score was a surprising 4-0, Slovenia. With 1:11 left in round 2 and the score 4-2, Slovenia, Cha did a stunning spin hook kick but the score didn't change. The appeal of the Korean coach was upheld, and just like that, the score changed, 6-4, Korea. The match ended at 9-4, Korea.

In the quarterfinals, Tanrikulu defeated Cha, 4-0; and, Malfetta (Italy) defeated Liu Xiaobo (China) in sudden-death.

In the semifinals, Tanrikulu fought Anthony Obame (Gabon). At the end of the match, the score was tied at 2-2. Tanrikulu wanted the finals match and unleashed a flurry of kicks but Obame was able to score a single point in the last seconds to win a tight sudden-death match, 3-2.

In the other semifinal match, Malfetta (Italy) squared off against 6'8" Keita (Mali). The Italian was dwarfed by the larger man but came in right away with a lunging punch to build his score to 2-0. As the match came into the final seconds and the score tied at 4-4, Malfetta scored with a rear leg roundhouse with 5 seconds remaining to win.

Cuba won the medal in the first bronze final by default when Keita could not fight due to injury. In the other bronze medal final, Tanrikulu faced Liu.
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Men’s +80kg Taekwondo Bronze ()

 
Finals: Malfetta (Italy) v. Obame (Gabon)
Watch now: Highlights: 2012 Men’s +80kg Taekwondo Final (2:07)
Watch now: Full Replay: 2012 Men’s +80kg Taekwondo Final (20:24)

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Women’s -49KG Taekwondo Final
A select list of videos and information about Taekwondo competition in the Olympics. See fast, furious, spectacular action and stunning kicks.