Rabat 2017 Grand Prix Series 2 (G-4): Korea reigns with 3 titles followed by Great Britain and Turkey (2 each)
WT World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 2
22-24 September 2017
G-4 category event
Round by round results: Day 1 Day 2 / Day 3
Day 3 – Report (by WT)
Turkey and Korea won the last gold medals up for grabs in the third and final day of the Rabat 2017 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series in the Moroccan capital.
The overall end result of the Grand Prix – the first ever to be held on the African continent – was: Korea (three golds, one silver, four bronzes) in first place, followed by Great Britain (two golds and one silver) and Turkey (two golds and two bronzes).
– Golds: DAY 1: GB, GB, Turkey. DAY 2: Korea, Korea, Cote d’Ivoire. DAY 3: Turkey, Korea.
– Silvers: DAY 1: Korea, Russia, Serbia. DAY 2: Mexico, Vietnam, Egypt. DAY 3: Great Britain, Chinese Taipei.
– Bronzes: DAY 1: Korea, Slovenia, Cote d’Ivoire, Turkey, China, Korea. DAY 2: Spain, Iran, Korea, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Mexico. DAY 3: Croatia, Korea, Mexico, Spain.
After a performance by a camouflage-clad local demo team showcasing gymnastics, taekwondo tricks and high kick breaks, fighting got underway in the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah in the last two categories of the championship to be contested.
The final in the Female -57kg division pitted double Olympic gold medalist Jade “The Headhunter” Jones against 2017 Universiade champion Hatice Kubra Ilgun of Turkey. Ilgun opened the scoring, hitting Jones with a round kick to the body that was skillfully fired while she was pivoting away from Jones’ attack. Jones maintained forward pressure, looked dominant and tried head kicks – but could not connect against the Turk, who took the first round, 2-0. In Round 2, Jones lived up to her nickname, landing a crescent kick to Ilgun’s head from the clinch to go up, 3-2.
There were pushing matches in mid-ring as both athletes fought forward and refused to give ground. Ilgun connected to the body again, to go 4-3 up – then Jones fell, putting the Turk further ahead, 5-3, then 7-3 as her body kicks continued to land. As the third got underway, Jones had a fight on her hands – but promptly lost another point for holding. Then her picture-perfect hook kick landed to Ilgun’s head, taking the board to 6-8, and she was back in the game. Both girls missed with head kicks and Ilugn maintained her narrow lead. With 15 seconds remaining, Jones tried desperately to connect with high kicks and forced Irgun out of the ring – but she had left her last-minute charge too late. Irgun won gold and Jones silver with a score of 8-6 for the Turk. A brilliant result for the Turkish fighter, who won her first-ever Grand Prix medal.
Bronzes in the category went to Marija Stetic of Croatia and Ah-reum Lee of Korea.
The final of the Male -68kg category saw current World Champion Dae-hoon Lee – who had annihilated Saul “The Spine” Gutierrez of Mexico in the semi-finals with a relentless blitzkrieg of attacks – take on Muju 2017 World Championships silver medalist Yu-jen Huang of Chinese Taipei. Action stared with both players firing light, probing kicks , with Huang looking unintimidated by Lee. As the round progressed, the kicks picked up power and Lee drew first blood with a two-point round kick to the body. Lee pressured Huang up against the edge of the mats where the two fought kick for kick. The round ended 4-2 to Lee, but in the second, the Chinese Taipei fighter evened the score, 4-4. Both were unleashing a full technical arsenal: round kicks, inverse kicks, head kicks, pushes, and kicks from the clinch. Lee’s kick rate was extraordinary, as his legs worked like machine guns, but it was Huang who landed again to go 6-4 up, before Lee inevitably equalized 6-6. In the final seconds of the round, Lee drew ahead with a punch, ending the second 7-6 up. As the bell went on the third, the two briefly hugged – then it was game on. Huang was now more active, matching Lee kick for kick, but the Korean went 9-6 up as his round kick hit home yet again. By now his high kicks and stamina were drawing gasps from the crowd. Huang was penalized a gamjeom for grabbing, putting Lee 10-6 up. In the final 25 seconds Huang raised his score to seven, then Lee connected with a perfect round kick to the face, with a “thwack” that was audible around the stadium. Lee was penalized one point for holding, but the match ended 13-9 and a convincing victory for Lee, whose phenomenal work rate and clarity of technique were a joy to behold.
A well-deserved silver went to Huang, while bronzes were won by Gutierez and Javier Perez Polo of Spain.
Taekwondo’s elite gathers for Series 3 of the 2017 Grand Prix in London, Great Britain, from Oct. 20-22. The London Grand Prix will be preceded by the one-day 2017 World Para Taekwondo Championships on Oct. 19 at the same venue, the Copper Box Arena.
Day 3 – Final Podiums
Women’s -57 kg
1 – TUR Turkey Hatice Kubra ILGUN
2 – GBR Great Britain Jade JONES
3 – CRO Croatia Marija STETIC
3 – KOR Republic of Korea Ah-Reum LEE
Men’s -68 kg
1 – KOR Republic of Korea Dae-Hoon LEE
2 – TPE Chinese Taipei Yu-Jen HUANG
3 – MEX Mexico Saul GUTIERREZ
3 – ESP Spain Javier PEREZ POLO
Day 2 – Report (by WT)
Two gold medals were won by Korea and one by Cote d’Ivoire on the second day of the three-day Rabat 2017 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series in the Moroccan capital.
After a performance by a local taekwondo team and a power breaking demonstration, the action got underway in the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah.
The final in the Male -58kg division pitted three-time world champion and round-kick machine Tae-hun Kim of Korea against the cobra-quick Carlos Navarro of Mexico. Action started in top gear, with both lads feeling each other out trying to find the range. Kim scored first with a body kick, going 2-0 up, while employing superior ring craft that forced the Mexican to dance around the perimeter of the mats. Navarro returned fire, winning three points with a very fast and deceptive spin back kick fired low, from the floor, before Kim landed another of his trademark round kicks, ending the round 4-3. In the second, Kim extended his lead 6-3 and in the third, continued to relentlessly pick up the points, going 8-3 up. Action heated up as the bout counted down, and in a flurry, the board went to 10-5. In the final seconds, Navarro connected with a head kick launched on the run, but the match ended 10-8 with gold to Kim – who is looking near-invincible on his current form – and silver to the Mexican. It had been a notably clean contest that saw the ref awarding no points against either athlete.
Bronzes in the category went to Jesus Tortosa Cabrera of Spain and Farzan Ashourzadeh Fallah of Iran.
The final of the Female -49kg category saw So-hui Kim of Korea take on Thi Kim Tuyen Truong of Vietnam. Kim seized an early two-point lead with a body kick, then another. The Vietnamese put the pressure on, but Kim is a masterly counter fighter, and ended the round 7-0 up. The Korean went to 8-0 after Truong tried to land a head kick from the clinch, but ended up falling; Kim kept her cool and her feet. Defying repeated attacks from Truong, Kim maintained the distance and ended the second round 8-0 up. In the third, Kim landed a head kick, but her game corroded slightly under pressure as Truong finally found the range. Even so, the point gap and the skill gap were too great: Kim took gold with a convincing 14-5 victory, leaving Truong with silver.
Bronzes were won by Jae-young Sim of Korea and Rukiye Yildirim of Turkey.
The final of the Male -80kg category is what the crowd had been waiting for: It is perhaps the most exciting category in the game. It saw Seif Eissa of Egypt do battle with Rio Olympic gold medalist and African taekwondo hero Cheick Sallah Cisse of Cote d’Ivoire, who had been fighting hard and entertainingly all day. The Cote d’Ivorian had vocal support from the crowd, but the bout started at a slow pace with the two fighters probing each other and a fair bit of eyeball-to-eyeball psychological warfare taking place. It ended 0-0. In the second, the Egyptian scored first to the body, going 2-0 up, but then losing a point for grabbing, 2-1. Finally, Cisse unleashed his attack, raising his score to 3-2 with a body kick. In the third, just one point separated the fighters. Cisse asserted his dominance, going up to 5-2 and playing a very physical game of pushing that seemed designed to intimidate the taller, but slimmer, Egyptian. As the clock counted down, Eissa came alive, attacking across the mats with a flying side kick – a common technique in action movies but a rare kick in live competition – before landing a crescent kick to Cisse’s head in the last 20 seconds, and evening the score, briefly, to 5-5. In the final seconds, the action escalated to close, fast and furious, with both men connecting. It ended 6-7 with a gold medal for the popular Olympic champ from Cote d’Ivoire, and a well-deserved silver for Eissa.
Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan and Rene Lizarraga of Mexico had to be satisfied with bronzes.
The victors in each category won USD5,000 in prize money; the silver medalists got USD3,000; and the two bronze medalists took home USD1,000 each. The winners were also guaranteed a place in the upcoming “Champion of Champions” Grand Slam series, to be contested in December and January, where USD100,000 of prize money will be up for grabs.
The invitational championship, the second of the 4-series Grand Prix 2017, brought together 221 athletes and 48 international referees, representing 55 countries. Invitations were based on the August World Taekwondo Olympic Rankings.
The final day of the championships takes place tomorrow at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah tomorrow with the Female -57kg and the Male -68kg being contested.
Day 2 – Final Podiums
Men’s -58 kg
1 – KOR Republic of Korea Tae-Hun KIM
2 – MEX Mexico Carlos NAVARRO
3 – IRI Islamic Republic of Iran Farzan ASHOURZADEH FALLAH
4 – ESP Spain Jesus TORTOSA CABRERA
Women’s -49 kg
1 – KOR Republic of Korea So-Hui KIM
2 – VIE Vietnam Thi Kim Tuyen TRUONG
3 – KOR Republic of Korea Jae-Young SIM
4 – TUR Turkey Rukiye YILDIRIM
Men’s -80 kg
1 – CIV Cote D’ivoire Cheick Sallah CISSE
2 – EGY Egypt Seif EISSA
3 – AZE Azerbaijan Milad BEIGI HARCHEGANI
4 – MEX Mexico Rene LIZARRAGA
Day 1 – Final Podiums
Women’s -67 kg
1 – Nur Tatar (TUR)
2 – Hyeri Oh (KOR)
3 – Irem Yaman (TUR)
3 – Ruth Gbagbi (CIV)
Men’s +87 kg
1 – Mahama Cho (GBR)
2 – Roman Kuznetsov (RUS)
3 – Kyo-don In (KOR)
3 – Ivan Trajkovic (SLO)
Women’s +67 kg
1 – Bianca Walkden (GBR)
2 – Milica Mandic (SRB)
3 – Shuyin Zheng (CHN)
3 – Saebom An (KOR)
Day 1 – Report (by WT)
Great Britain won two golds and Turkey one on the opening day of the three-day Rabat 2017 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series in the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah in the Moroccan capital.
The championship, the second of the 4-series Grand Prix, brought together 221 athletes and 48 international referees, representing 55 countries. Invitations were based on the August World Taekwondo Olympic Rankings.
The final in the Female -67kg division pitted 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist Hye-ri Oh of Korea against 2017 Muju World Champion Nur Tatar of Turkey. The two are well matched in terms of height and physique and leg speed, but after a nervy feeling-out period, it was Oh who scored first with a body kick, ending the round 2-0 up. The second round saw long-range psychological warfare, with occasional flurries of action – then in the round’s final second, Tatar went 3-2 up with a spin back kick. In the third, Oh went 4-3 up but lost a point for grabbing: The round ended 4-4. In golden point, then in fast action, Tatar scored with a thwacking round kick to the body, leaving Oh with silver.
Bronzes in the category went to Irem Yaman of Turkey and Ruth Gbagbi of Cote d’Ivoire.
The final of the Male +80kg category saw Great Britain’s Mahama Cho take on Moscow Series 1 Grand Prix winner Roman Kuznetsov of Russia, who had benefitted from a by in the semi finals, after his opponent Ivan Trajkovic of Slovenia pulled out with an injury. Action started fast with both lads firing fast, dangerous kicks. Kuznetsov opened the scoring, but Cho firing back with his jumping kicks and Round 1 ended 2-0 up to the Russian. In the second, Cho evened it up with his switching round kick to the body, 2-2, then drew ahead 4-2 with close-range hits after driving his opponent to the edge of the mats. In the third round, the Russian connected to Cho’s head, going 5-4 up with a big arcing kick – then, amid a furious flurry, Cho buried a deceptive but perfectly timed spinning back kick in his opponent’s face, and Kuznetsov hit the mats. Although a shaky Kuznetsov wanted to continue, the referee stopped the fight. Cho looked delighted at his victory in what was clearly the fight of the night.
Bronzes were won by Kyu-don In of Korea and Trajkovic.
The final in the +67kg category saw London 2012 Olympic gold medalist and Muju 2017 World Champion Milica Mandic of Serbia do battle with 2015 and 2017 World Champion Bianca Walkden of Great Britain. (The two fight in different categories at world level, but in the same Olympic category.) Walkden, as always, started fast, going three points up up with a back kick. Despite a high work rate from both fighters, the round ended 3-0, as did the second round. In the third, both girls were connecting but not scoring. Mandic fell, and Walkden scored again but lost one point for holding. The match ended 7-1 with gold for Walkden and silver for Mandic.
Shuyin Zheng of China and Sae-bom An of Korea had to be satisfied with bronzes.
The victor in each category won USD5,000 in prize money; the silver medalist got USD3,000; and the two bronze medalists took home USD1,000 each. The winners were also guaranteed a place in the upcoming “Champion of Champions” Grand Slam series, to be contested in December and January, where USD100,000 of prize money will be up for grabs.
Action resumes at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah tomorrow, with the Female -48kg, the Male -58kg and the Male -80kg categories being fought over.