Go Search Go Contents Go to bottom site map

S. Korea eyes at least two taekwondo golds at Rio Games

2016/07/13 16:23

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea aims to collect at least two gold medals in taekwondo at the upcoming Olympics, the national team coach said Wednesday.

Park Jong-man, the head coach of South Korean taekwondo squad, said he expects South Korea to collect two gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games. South Korea will have five taekwondo practitioners in Brazil, more than any other country. It is also the first time that the country, the birthplace of taekwondo, is sending that many competitors.

"All five members have the ability to grab the gold medal," Park told reporters at the National Training Center in Seoul. "Since we've prepared a lot for the Olympics, there will be good results."

   Taekwondo in Rio will feature 128 fighters from 63 nations. Each country is allowed to enter up to eight competitors, four for each gender, based on the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Olympic rankings in December, but they must be among the top six in each weight category.

On the men's side, South Korea will be represented by Kim Tae-hun (under 58kg), Lee Dae-hoon (under 68kg) and Cha Dong-min (over 80kg). Kim So-hui (under 49kg) and Oh Hye-ri (under 67kg) are the two South Korean women at the Rio Games. South Korea has won 14 Olympic medals, including an all-time high of 10 gold, since taekwondo was first contested at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games.

"Other countries know about our forte and shortcomings, so we have really prepared thoroughly for this Summer Games," Park said. "If Kim So-hui has a good start, then the rest of the team will be able to feed off that good atmosphere till the end."

   Rio will be the first Olympics where taekwondo fighters have to wear electronic sensor-equipped headgear. Previously in London, the electronic sensors were only in the participants' trunk protectors and socks.

The sensors in the protective gear work in conjunction with sensors in the socks of the taekwondo fighters to measure the impact of any strikes delivered and automatically record points for those strikes. Three points are awarded for a kick to the head, while only one point is given for an attack on the trunk protector on the torso.

"Since we have short legs, it's difficult for us to attack the head, but foreign fighters will probably go for the head," the coach said. "We have worked on head defense a lot."

   Park, who was assistant coach at the 2012 London Games, said South Korean taekwondo practitioners have been focusing on increasing their stamina so that they can attack opponents consistently. They've also worked with researchers from the Korea Institute of Sports Science to systemically manage their training.

"We've finished our analysis on opponents and our tactical training is also complete," he said. "We just have to avoid injuries."

   The South Korean taekwondo squad will depart for Brazil on July 29 and train at its base camp in Sao Paulo before entering Rio on Aug. 14.

South Korean national taekwondo practitioners display their kicks during their training at the National Training Center in Seoul on July 13, 2016. From right: Cha Dong-min, Lee Dae-hoon, Kim Tae-hun, Oh Hye-ri and Kim So-hui. (Yonhap) South Korean national taekwondo practitioners display their kicks during their training at the National Training Center in Seoul on July 13, 2016. From right: Cha Dong-min, Lee Dae-hoon, Kim Tae-hun, Oh Hye-ri and Kim So-hui. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

(END)

angloinfo.com