Sofia 2019 WT Grand Prix (G-4) – Day 3: China grabs 4th title as Jordan grabs 1st
Chinese team finish the event on top of the medal count as the only nation with more than 1 gold
Day 3 – Report
China confirmed its domination at Sofia 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix and after grabbing its 4th title of the event on the third and final day of action, held on Sunday in the Bulgarian capital, thanks to double Olympic and world champion Jingyu Wu’s triumph in Women’s -49 kg.
Wu conquered another title to add to her large collection after outscoring one of the other queens of the division, So-hui Kim from Korea, whom the Chinese star managed to beat by a clear 24-8 in the gold medal match of the class. The bronze medals of the category were taken by Tijana Bogdanovic (Serbia – Daedo athlete) and Yuntao Wenren (China).
The other gold medal of the day was won by Saleh Elsharabaty from Jordan, who got rid of Seif Eissa from Egypt in the Men’s -80 final by a close 12-10 to taste glory for the first time in such a relevant event, conquering his first ever World Taekwondo Grand Prix. The lower step of the podium was occupied by Hernandez (Dominican Republic) and Martins Soares (Brazil).
With these results, China finished as the clear champion of the event with 4 gold medals, standing out as the only team with more than 1 title in Sofia, followed by Brazil, Ivory Coast, Korea and Jordan, all of the with 1 title each.
Day 3 – Final Podiums
Women’s -49 kg
1 – WU Jingyu (CHN)
2 – KIM So-hui (KOR)
3 – BOGDANOVIC Tijana (SRB)
3 – WENREN Yuntao (CHN)
Men’s -80 kg
1 – ELSHARABATY Saleh (JOR)
2 – EISSA Seif (EGY)
3 – HERNANDEZ Moises (DOM)
3 – MARTINS SOARES Icaro Miguel (BRA)
Day 2 – Report
China clinched its 3rd title in the event on the second day of action thanks to one of the biggest fighters in the Taekwondo planet nowadays, the Olympic champion Shuyin Zheng, who added another gold to her cabinet after getting rid of her biggest opponent, world number 1 and triple world champion Bianca Walkden (Great Britain) by a close 2-3 in the Women’s +67 kg division.
The bronze medallists of the category ended up being Mi-na Myeong from China and Milica Mandic from Serbia (Daedo athlete).
The other two gold medals of the day were taken by Brazil and Ivory Coast. Brazilian star Maicon Siqueira won his first Grand Prix title after edging world number 1 Kyo-don In from Korea in the Men’s +80 kg final by atight 4-3. Ivan Sapina (Croatia) and Hongyi Sun (China) took the lower step of the podium.
In Women’s -67 kg, world champion Ruth Gbagbi (Ivory Coast) collected the first title for her country in the event after beating Lauren Williams from Great Britain in the crucial fight of the draw by 25-20 in a very entertaining clash. World number 1 Nur Tatar (Turkey) and Julyana Al-Sadeq (Jordan) had to content with the bronze medals of the class.
Women’s -67 kg
Day 2 – Final Podiums
1 – GBAGBI Ruth (CIV)
2 – WILLIAMS Lauren (GBR)
3 – TATAR ASKARI Nur (TUR)
3 – AL-SADEQ Julyana (JOR)
Men’s +80 kg
1 – SIQUEIRA Maicon (BRA)
2 – IN Kyo-don (KOR)
3 – SUN Hongyi (CHN)
3 – SAPINA Ivan (CRO)
Women’s +67 kg
1 – ZHENG Shuyin (CHN)
2 – WALKDEN Bianca (GBR)
3 – MYEONG Mi-na (KOR)
3 – MANDIC Milica (SRB)
Day 1 – Report
China stood out from the rest of teams competing at Sofia 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix, which kicked off last Friday in the Bulgarian capital, after grabbing 2 out of 3 gold medals in the first day of action of the event.
Shuai Zhao (China) tasted glory in Men’s -68 kg after defeating no other than the king of the division, triple world champion Dae-hoon Lee (Daedo athlete) from Korea, by 17-7 in the big final of the draw. The bronze medallists of the class ended up being Ahmadi (Iran) and Huang (Chinese Taipei).
The other Chinese gold was taken by Lijun Zhou, who proved to be the best athlete in Women’s -57 kg after getting rid of another Korean representative, Ah-reum Lee, by a close 15-12. Kudashova (RUS) and Ilgun (TUR) had to content with the bronzes of the category.
Korea was the other nation to make its way to the top of the final podium on Friday after clinching 1 title. The reigning world number 1 and champion at Manchester 2019 WC, Jun Jang (Korea), added another trophy to his cabinet after defeating the absolute dominator of the division in recent years, Tae-hun Kim (Daedo athlete) by a comfortable 12-1 in the crucial fight of the draw. Dell’aquila (Italy) and Hadipour (Iran) took the lower step of the podium.
Day 1 – Final Podiums
Men’s -58 kg
1 – GOLD JANG Jun KOR – Korea
2 – SILVER KIM Tae-hun KOR – Korea
3 – BRONZE HADIPOUR SEIGHALANI Armin IRI – Iran
3 – BRONZE DELL’AQUILA Vito ITA – Italy
Women’s -57 kg
1 – GOLD ZHOU Lijun CHN – China
2 – SILVER LEE Ah-reum KOR – Korea
3 – BRONZE KUDASHOVA Tatiana RUS – Russia
3 – BRONZE ILGUN Hatice kubra TUR – Turkey
Men’s -68 kg
1 – GOLD ZHAO Shuai CHN – China
2 – SILVER LEE Dae-hoon KOR – Korea
3 – BRONZE HUANG Yu-jen TPE – Chinese Taipei
3 – BRONZE AHMADI Soroush IRI – Iran
The president of the Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation stated that his country’s significant investments in the sport are a gift to the youth of his country, while the president of World Taekwondo revealed upcoming innovations ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The two were speaking, together with some of the world’s top taekwondo athletes, at a press conference held the day prior to the World Taekwondo Grand Prix Sofia – branded “Best of the Beasts” – kicks off for its three-day run at the Exhibition Forum Event Center at the city’s landmark Hotel Marinela.
It is the first time the elite World Taekwondo Grand Prix series has come to Bulgaria – which next year also hosts the World Taekwondo Junior Championships.
Investing in youth
Bulgaria considers its investments in hosting taekwondo events a gift for the future.
“We have government support, we have the support of the whole country,” said President of the Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation Slavi Binev. “This is the best investment ever in the future of our country and our athletes – we will try to build a model for our youngsters to follow. This something that is left behind in our modern world.”
The Grand Prix will not only serve as precursor ahead of the World Juniors, but also present new opportunities for Bulgarian players.
“This is a test event for what is to come next year,” said Binev, adding that the Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation next year celebrates its 30-year anniversary.
Bulgarian players have not yet medaled in a Grand Prix event, but hope to leverage home town advantage in the days ahead.
“I am very happy that one of the best and most difficult tournaments is here in my homeland,” said Bulgarian athlete Vladimir Dalakliev. “In the past we have had difficulties traveling abroad, but this is our homeland and this is where we will do our best and achieve great results.”
World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue, who had earlier met Bulgarian Minster of Youth and Sports Minister Krasen Kralev, noted that 2019 is a special year for the federation: It marks the 25th anniversary of the September 1994 Paris IOC session during which taekwondo was declared an official program sport of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Choue then addressed some of the innovations WT will be making for Tokyo 2020.
The first is cameras. “We will use a 4D, 360-degree camera systems – hundreds of cameras will be sited in the taekwondo venue,” Choue said. “We have tested this several times at the Grand Slam,” as well as at the Manchester World Championships.
The 4D camera rig enables “Matrix”-style effects, upgrading taekwondo’s visual spectacle. However, not only does it make the game more spectator-friendly, it also empowers fairness. “There will be no dead angles for referees,” Choue said; the rig will ease the task of instant video replay judges.
The second change is competition uniforms. Players and pundits have complained that the toned physiques of taekwondo athletes are camouflaged by baggy competition uniforms and by protective gear. In response, WT has been experimenting with more stylish armor and clothing.
The new competition uniforms boast new textiles and are slim fitting, Choue said, and will be tested at the next major WT event in Moscow in December. “At the Moscow Grand Prix Final, all athletes will wear the new uniforms,” he said.
A final decision on the adoption of the new competition uniforms for Tokyo 2020 will be made by the World Taekwondo Council in Moscow in December, Choue added.
The track to Tokyo 2020
Some of the world’s top players were also on hand at the press conference.
Team Korea’s Lee Dae-hoon – arguably, the top fighter in the male game at present – noted that, given the rise of formidable, young competitors, he could no longer rest on his laurels.
“I was at the top level, but I think it is a positive thing that a lot of rivals can compete with me,” he said. “I am also learning a lot of things from young players, so this is a positive thing.”
Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist Shuyin “The Beautiful Giraffe” Zheng of Team China was asked to comment on her fierce rivalry with Team Great Britain’s Bianca Walkden. “Bianca is a great opponent and a rival for me,” she said. “She makes me practice more during my training time.”
Walkden’s best friend and roommate, double Olympic champion Jade “The Welsh Wonder” Jones, was asked about her ambition of winning a third gold in Tokyo – which would be a historic feat no other taekwondo fighter has yet achieved.
“It is amazing to have a chance to do something nobody has done before, that is why I get up in the morning, that is why I am here and that is why I am training,” she said. “I believe it can be me! I will put my heart and soul into trying to do that.”
The third edition of 2019’s World Taekwondo Grand Prix series comes to Sofia, Bulgaria, on 18-20 October, following earlier tourneys in Rome, Italy, and Chiba, Japan.
The elite-level event, hosted by the Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation, brings together the top 32 athletes in eight weight categories, competing for prize money and valuable ranking points ahead of Tokyo 2020.
Venue and PSS
The action takes place at the Exhibition Forum Event Center in Sofia’s Hotel Marinela. The PSS used at the event will be Daedo.
It is the first time the elite Grand Prix series has come to Bulgaria, which will next year host the World Taekwondo Junior Championships.
“I am confident Sofia will prove an excellent host, and all of us at World Taekwondo look forward to this event,” said WT President Chungwon Choue. “With Tokyo 2020 now so close, we are expecting high-octane action at this Grand Prix.”
Sofia is the penultimate Grand Prix of 2019: the year’s Grand Prix finals will be held in Moscow, Russia, in December. The Moscow event is the last Grand Prix before next year’s Tokyo Olympics.