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By Yoo Jee-ho
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Kim Tae-hun won a bronze medal in men's taekwondo at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Wednesday.
The two-time world champion defeated Carlos Navarro of Mexico 7-5 in the bronze medal contest in the men's -58kg at Carioca Arena 3.
Kim fell into repechage after losing his first match of the day to Tawin Hanprab of Thailand. When Hanprab reached the final, Kim got a reprieve as the loser to the finalist in the round of 16.
Kim first had to get past Safwan Khalil of Australia to reach the bronze medal match.
While it was South Korea's first medal in taekwondo in Rio, it was a disappointing result for Kim, No. 2 on the World Taekwondo Federation's Olympic rankings. In addition to his two world titles, Kim has also won an Asian Games gold medal and an Asian championship.
Kim Tae-hun of South Korea celebrates his victory in the men's -58kg taekwondo bronze medal match at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Aug. 17, 2016. (Yonhap)
After a scoreless first round, Kim picked up three points with a kick to the head in the last moments of the second round. He charged out to 6-0 midway through the third round and held off Navarro for his first Olympic medal.
Kim admitted afterward he didn't feel mentally ready to compete at first but he drew inspiration from encouraging words from friends and family.
"I was so devastated after losing the first match, but I had this lucky break with the repechage," he said. "I never thought about getting a second chance, but when I got it, I was just trying to do my best, rather than getting caught up with winning a medal."
At 24, Kim feels he still has room to grow.
"I thought I'd gone to my share of major international events, but the Olympics are an entirely different animal," Kim said. "I was too tight and didn't quite move the way I wanted to. I think this experience will help me get better in the future."
South Korea's Kim Tae-hun (R) lands a kick on Carlos Navarro of Mexico in the men's -58kg taekwondo bronze medal match at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Aug. 17, 2016. (Yonhap)