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Taekwondo’s Olympic future: London 2012, the turning point

Taekwondo’s Olympic future: London 2012, the turning point
London 2012 has been described by many personalities within our sport as the best Taekwondo competition ever. It is always difficult to make such an statement because some people may not agree with it, but in this case they’ll probably admit that London 2012 was, at least, the best Olympic Taekwondo competition since our sport was included in the Olympic Program in Sydney 2000. After 3 Olympic editions surrounded by doubts about our sport’s universality, London 2012 finally showed the world that Taekwondo is a real global sport with worldwide appeal.
Competition data
More than 150 countries participated in the Olympic qualifying for London 2012, which means over 75% of the current World Taekwondo Federation MNAs took part in the race for the Olympics. In the end, 128 athletes from 63 different nations achieved their dream. Furthermore, a total of 11 countries out of these 63 made their Olympic Taekwondo debut in London.
The Taekwondo competition shared out 32 medals in total, which were won by athletes from 22 different nations, including smaller sporting countries such as Mali, Chinese Taipei and Afghanistan. Our sport’s competition was also the one in which Gabon, thanks to Anthony Obame’s magnificent performance, won its first Olympic medal ever. Turkey and Argentina also clinched their first Olympic gold in London through Tazegul and Crismanich.

Image of the atmosphere at the ExCel Centre during London 2012´s Taekwondo competition

Crowd engagement
In addition to the competition data, there was also another really positive aspect for Taekwondo in London: the audience’s enthusiasm.
The 6,000 seats of the ExCel Centre were filled during the 4 days of competition, creating an amazing atmosphere in every of the 3 sessions scheduled for each day. The electronic scoring and the application of the new rules approved by the WTF made it easier for new fans to pick up the functioning of our sport and get excited about it.
Taekwondo’s flexibility
The ExCel Centre was also the place where Taekwondo proved its highlighted flexibility as an Olympic sport. The Taekwondo venue was transformed into the fencing one in a 24 hour period time, which shows the minimal space and equipment requirements our sport demands.
The introduction of technology 
The introduction of technology in London 2012’s Taekwondo competition had a really positive effect on different aspects of our sport. Daedo Protector and Scoring System (PSS) and Dartfish Instant Video Replay (IVR) helped creating clearer and more objective parameters for the athletes in competition. The fact that around 50% of IVR appeals overturned the referee decision shows how important technology was in London. These innovations were adopted to eliminate controversy, help minimizing human errors and try to create a new group of fans. All these objectives were met satisfactorily. PSS and IVR are leading our sport to a change of trend based on more exciting and spectacular bouts, as ambitious techniques are highly rewarded. This mix of innovations make Taekwondo a spectacular sport that provides great television moments.

Suvi Mikkonen (FIN) and Li-Cheng Tseng (TPE) during the Women´s -57 kg category bronze medal match

Taekwondo, a much safer sport
Another point in which the WTF had to work on was the safety of our sport. London 2012 was also good news for this, as Taekwondo ended up being one of the safest sports of the Olympics. WTF’s 2012 Medical Report showed that the injury rate of our sport fell to an all-time lowest of just 3 in 1,000 athletes during last year. The study also proved a 18.4% reduction in injuries since the 2008/2009 season.
Taekwondo is still a fast and intense combat sport, but it has become a much safer sport since the introduction of the Protector and Scoring System (PSS), which enables athletes to focus their priorities on agility, accuracy and speed of movement rather than on generating as much force as possible.
And that’s not all. Taekwondo will continue getting safer, as the development of the electronic headgear is currently at an advanced stage.
Pau Aguilar
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  1. Is there really a place for ITF within WTF? « ITF taekwondo future - [...] In order to show to the world that WTF is modern, borderless and openminded sport organization talks with ITF…

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