Mexico suffered heartbreak in the last two bouts of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix Finals here today as Maria Espinoza and Saúl Gutiérrez each lost after being within seconds of victory.
Jamilla Chellat must be a proud woman. As a youngster in Morocco, she had seen taekwondo being practiced, but had been too poor to take it up herself. Embittered, she vowed that, after she married, her children would be given the opportunity that she had never had: to excel in the sport.
The latest chapter in one of sport's bitterest rivalries unfolded here today at the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix Final as Britain's Lutalo Muhammad overcame former team-mate Aaron Cook, now fighting for Moldova.
Olympic qualifying spots will be up for grabs when the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix Finals starts here tomorrow.
The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) has opened an academy at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan as part of a two-part pilot programme before the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) begins full-scale operation next year.
The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Cup and Grand Prix Final in Mexico City will now be held at the Sala de Armas venue in which fencing was held at the 1968 Olympics, it was announced today.
World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President Chungwon Choue has welcomed 20 Seoul-based ambassadors to the body's headquarters, thanking them for their contributions to a "universal sport".
World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President Chungwon Choue has described the Paris terror attacks as "unpardonable" in an open letter to the sport's players and fans around the world.
No changes will be made to taekwondo scoring rules until after next summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the sport's governing body President Chungwon Choue has confirmed.
Tunisia's Oussama Oueslati gained the best win of his career on the final day of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix here, silencing the home crowd with a comprehensive under 80 kilograms victory over home favourite Lutalo Muhammad.
"Headhunter" Jones lives up to nickname with thrilling home World Taekwondo Federation Grand Prix victory
Britain's Olympic champion Jade Jones produced an attacking masterclass at her home World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix here tonight to win under 57 kilograms gold on a night of host country success.
South Korea's double world champion Lee Dae-hoon produced a masterful blend of attack and defence to claim a hugely competitive men's under 68 kilograms title here on the opening day of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix.
Developing a new digital strategy to raise the global profile of the sport has been hailed as a key ambition by new World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) secretary general Hoss Rafaty here today, with the new Olympic TV Channel targeted as one potential market.
Britain looking to end host nation hoodoo as World Taekwondo Federation Grand Prix series returns home
Britain will look to end a recent host nation curse when the latest leg of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix series gets underway here tomorrow, with Manchester also looking to enhance its status as a benchmark for hosting major events in the sport.
Every sport needs a pipeline of up-and-coming fighters and in this sense, taekwondo is well served.
Case in point? Turkey’s 20-year-old Nafia Kus.
The first thing that strikes you about Kus is her weapons-grade physical presence. Tall, lithe, leggy and athletic, Kus is nicknamed “The Amazon” and it is easy to see why. With her pale features bookmarked by long, black tresses, with her chiseled bone structure and her dark, hawk-like eyes, she showcases the fierce beauty of the mythical female warriors of the Black Sea.
If she were not stalking opponents on the competition mats, she could be turning heads on the runways of Paris and Milan, and indeed, when she came into the media room at the 2015 Moscow Grand Prix Series 1 for the photo session to accompany this article, male media professionals were lining up to have their photo taken alongside her.
It was her physique that even at age 10, led her to taekwondo, or rather, that led taekwondo to her. A coach at a dojang in her home town of Adana spotted her. “He saw that I looked tall and strong so he invited me to his club,” she said. “That was the beginning.”
At the time, Kus was a keen volleyball player, but found that she had a special talent for taekwondo. In the last six years, her competitive career has blossomed. She won silver at the 2009 European Cadet Championships, another silver at the 2010 World Juniors, bronzes at the 2011 and 2012 European Juniors, a gold at the 2013 European Under-21s, a bronze at the 2015 World Championships and a gold at the 2015 Europeans.
Her favored technique is the front-leg turning kick which, she reckons, is well catered for by the current rules and PSS. In terms of her strengths, she mused: “I know my physical advantage and my power: I am tall and I have long legs.”
At Moscow’s Dinamo Krylatskoye Gymnasium in the female over 67kg division – a division that includes such daunting fighters as Serbia’s Milica Mandic, France’s Gwladys Epangue, Russia’s Olga Ivanova and Mexico’s Maria Espinoza, Kus, the world-ranked number 18, found herself facing off against current world champion Bianca Walkden in the semis.
Yet “The Amazon” was in no way awed by the world’s number two.
“All my opponents, whoever I fight, is only an opponent,” Kus said. “I cannot see the nation, I cannot see the face, I only fight to win: That is all my focus.” Fighting with poise and confidence throughout the match, she dispatched Walkden in golden point. That victory put her through to the finals against China’s Li Donghua, the world-ranked number 12.
Action got underway as soon as the bell went, with Kus drawing first blood with a front-leg turning kick to the body. Li returned fire with an arcing ax kick to the head of Kus, then, in a flurry, Li went down with Kus falling on top of her. A medic was called as Li, clearly in pain, appearing to have suffered a twisted ankle. However, after some swift manipulation, she got back on her feet.
But now “The Amazon” was looking to take swift advantage. Both athletes showed a high work rate as they fought to control the center of the ring, with Kus piling on the pressure. By the final round, there was just a one-point difference - but Kus had now found her distance. She mercilessly extended her lead and Li’s game started to disintegrate. The match ended with a convincing 12-5 victory for the Turk.
A clearly delighted Kus was looking to the future, particularly to the September Grand Prix which will be held on the home ground of this Black Sea warrior. “Inshallah, I will win in Samsun!” she said in the post-match TV interview.
Like every athlete fighting in the 2015 Grand Prix Series, Kus’ longer-term sights are set on Rio. “My major target is the Olympics and I want to get golds in Samsun and Manchester to get into the top eight to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Mexico and try to make the Olympics,” she said.
Professionally, she is well positioned to get there. The Turkish Taekwondo Federation covers all her training camp, travel and accommodation expenses; it also pays a cash bonus for medals. In her down time, Kus continues to play volleyball and is a keen salsa dancer.
She is currently a student in the Sports Department of the University of Cukurov, and in her post-competitive career plans to teach sports. However, given that she is just started her life as a senior, that career could be a long one: “The Amazon” reckons her cut-off date for Olympic competition is 2024.