WTF honors top athletes at 2015 Gala as announces Canada 2016 Junior Champs
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (December 7, 2015) – Athletes from China and Korea were named Players of the Year as the WTF wrapped up 2015 by honoring key figures in the sport at the federation’s second annual Gala Awards.
The red-carpet event, inaugurated last year as part of an effort by the WTF to boost the profile of its athletes and add a touch of glamour to the sport, took place in an appropriately prestigious venue: Mexico’s National Theater in the heart of the capital.
In the theater’s floodlit, baroque interior, athletes and officials – usually attired in track suits and referee uniforms – mingled in lounge suits and cocktail dresses.
On the stage – more typically a setting for operas – LED screens ran highlights from the year’s competitions and various traditional dances, including flamenco and a shamanistic display, were performed before WTF President Chungwon Choue was presented
“It is a pleasure to hold the second taekwondo gala event in Mexico,” Choue said. “Mexico is always a great supporter of taekwondo.”
Choue went on to talk about a nascent initiative of the WTF, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, which will take taekwondo into refugee camps worldwide. The THF will launch full operations next year. He added that the taekwondo competition in Rio would be even better than the London 2012 Games.
Dramatic, music-backed poomsae were performed by Mexican champions, then the awards got underway.
Awards had been voted on mostly by peers. Ballots had been filled in at the previous Grand Prix Series 3 event in Manchester, UK in October, as well as on-site at the National Theater.
The first award, the 2015 Female Referee of the Year award was won by Kalay Suddai of Thailand. It was presented by Djibouti IOC Member Aicha Garad Ali and Pan-American Taekwondo Union President Ji-ho Choi.
The 2015 Male Referee of the Year award was won by Tarik Benradi of Morocco. It was presented by African Taekwondo Union President Ahmed Fouly and Guatemala Taekwondo Association President and WTF Council Member Maria Rosario Borello Castillo.
The Member National Association (MNA) of the Year Award was won by Russia, which had hosted both the 2015 World Championships in Chelyabinsk and the 2015 World Grand Prix Series 1 in Moscow. The award was presented by former Miss USA and taekwondo 4th dan Nia Sanchez, and WTF Vice President and Peruvian IOC Member Ivan Dibos.
After a Mariachi band performed, a new award inaugurated this year, the 2015 Best Kick of the Year, was won by Moldova’s Aaron Cook for his jumping, spin- turning kick knockout of Mali’s Ismael Coulibaly at the Moscow Grand Prix Series 1– a blow which blended a high degree of difficulty with textbook execution and wicked power. On stage, Cook likened the winning of the award to an Oscar, then thanked his team and brother, Luke, for his coaching.
The award was presented by Mexican IOC Member Olegario Vasquez Rana and President of the European Taekwondo Union Anasthasios Pragalos.
After a brief LED presentation on Mexican taekwondo history, a pair of Outstanding Contribution awards, granted and presented by Choue, were handed to the Mexican and Jordanian taekwondo federations.
The 2015 Coach of the Year award was won by Gulash Alonso, the coach of Egypt, who mentioned “the most important man” in her life, her husband, in her acceptance speech. The award was presented by Honorary IOC Member Melitón Sanchez Rivas of Panama and Oceania Taekwondo Union President John Kotsifas.
After a musical interlude, the 2015 Female Player of the Year award was won by China’s JIngyu Wu. The diminutive Wu is a double Olympic gold medalist, has dominated the women’s lightweight category this year and is a favorite for another gold in Rio. She urged her fellow athletes to “enjoy life and enjoy taekwondo!” The award was presented by last year’s winner, Jade Jones of Great Britain, and Choue.
The 2015 Male Player of the Year award was presented by last year’s awardee, Korea’s Dae-hoon Lee and Choue. The winner was a considerable surprise. Choue joked that Lee should read out the name on the card – Lee’s own. “I will always try my best,” he said in his acceptance speech.
The evening followed one day after the WTF Grand Prix Final competition, the fourth and last event of an annual elite, Olympic-ranked series that had just qualified the first tranche of 48 athletes for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
The last major event on the WTF calendar for 2015 is the World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships, also taking placein Mexico City on December 8-9. It pits national squads against each other in a high-octane, tag-team format that may just be the sport’s most exciting tournament.
In the first half of 2016 the federation’s core business will be the Continental Qualification Tournaments, which will fill most of the remaining berths for the Rio Summer Games.
Burnaby, Canada, to host World Junior Champs 2016
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (December 7, 2015) — The Canadian city of Burnaby will host the 11th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships in November 2016.
At an extraordinary WTF Council meeting, held at the Camino Real Polanco Hotel in Mexico City, the WTF Council granted the Canadian city the right to host the 2016 World Junior Taekwondo Championships.
The Turkish Taekwondo Federation withdrew its bid for the World Junior Championships at the last minute.
Burnaby is set in British Columbia, about 30 km from Vancouver, and offers a superb lifestyle and a multicultural environment, bidders said during their presentation.
At the meeting, WTF President Chungwon Choue appointed John Walker, chairman of the WTF Marketing Committee, WTF treasurer. An investment banker by profession, Walker heads Macquarie Group of Companies, Asia.
Two WTF referees in provisional new, and more colorful uniforms were modeled during the meeting. Feedback was given by meeting participants.
In a progress report on refereeing issues, the head of the WTF Referee Committee, Chakir Chelbat, suggested the adoption of a new WTF referee ranking system.
WTF President Choue presented the “WTF Roadmap 2016” noting that in line with the IOC’s Agenda 2020, the WTF would implement five key visions and 20 objectives. The five visions are good governance; innovation of WTF events; placing athletes at the center of the WTF movement; development through taekwondo; and education and engagement. The vision was unanimously approved by the Council members.
Pan-American Taekwondo Union President Jiho Choi suggested the introduction of a new event, the WTF President’s Cup International Championships.
Choue announced that a joint referee and coach training camp will be held in Muju, Korea in May 2016 in advance of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. Muju is the site of the Taekwondowon, a dedicated taekwondo training facility.
A presentation was delivered on the situation and progress of the nascent Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation.
The next extraordinary WTF Council meeting will take place in May 2016 in Muju, Korea