Gabon celebrates first medal in Olympic history

London – GBR, August 11, 2012: Gabon, The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) today hailed the London 2012 taekwondo tournament as the “best Olympic taekwondo competition yet”, with 24 medals already distributed among 17 nations, and more to come in today’s final two sessions.

There are still eight medals up for grabs on day four of the taekwondo competition, with Spain currently top of the taekwondo medal table with three. Some of the highlights so far include a gold medal for 19 year-old Jade Jones of Great Britain in her first Olympic Games, first golds of London 2012 for Turkey and Argentina, and a second consecutive bronze for Afghanistan’s Rohullah Nikpai.

Speaking at a wrap-up press conference at London’s ExCeL Arena on the final day of the taekwondo competition, Dr Chungwon Choue, WTF President, said: “It really has been an amazing four days of competition. So many countries made history here by getting their first medals in the sport of taekwondo, and some even their first or only medals of their Games. The taekwondo family is already looking ahead to prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. In just a short time we will be forming a special task force to begin the preparations. Our experience here in London will certainly guide taekwondo to another successful Olympics in Rio.”

Jean-Marie Ayer, WTF Secretary General, said: “We still have two sessions to go, but already I think it is fair to say that the London 2012 competition has been the best Olympic taekwondo competition yet, just as we said it would be. Anyone who has been here, and heard the noise, and seen the flags will tell you the same thing: the atmosphere has been very, very special.

We have had nearly six thousand people in the arena three times a day for three days, and they have been treated to some spectacular bouts.” Servat Tazegul, who won Turkey’s first gold medal of the Games in the -68kg final on Thursday, said: “Competing in London has been such an amazing experience for me.

The facilities and the organisation have been top class. But the best thing has been the crowds. The stadium was full for every round, and the noise was incredible. When I fought Martin Stamper in the semi-final, the atmosphere was just electric. I’m so proud to have won gold for Turkey. When you think of world-class fighters like Stamper, Jennings and Nikpai, you know you will have to perform at your very best. Luckily, I was able to do that.”

London Olympic Taekwondo Closes by Making History Gabon celebrates first medal in Olympic history

If there is one story that of the London 2012 Olympic Games that embodies the spirit, values, and ideals of Olympism, it is the final medal matches of the tekwondo competition.

Italian Carlo Molfetta won the men’s +80kg in one of the most dramatic and exciting matches of the London Games, and perhaps taekwondo’s Olympic history. But the rest of the story was that Anthony Obame of Gabon accomplished the unthinkable by winning his country the first-ever Olympic medal – a silver medal.

The two medalists embraced and raised each others’ hands in true sportsmanship and admiration for one another as their match was left to judges’ decision. Obame maintained a lead throughout the gold-medal match against Italian Carlo Molfetta until late in the third round when Molfetta tied it up 9-9 pushing the match into the “golden point” overtime round. But neither competitor managed to score, and the decision eventually went to the judges and the two athletes endured an intense wait for the final verdict.

This was the second consecutive Olympics that taekwondo was the source of a nation’s first Olympic medal. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Rohullah Nikpah won Afghanistan’s first-ever medal following it up with the country’s secondmedal in London. Both were bronze and both were won after having to fight through repechage matches to get to the medal round. But there was far more to the night to taekwondo’s fourth and final night in the London Games.

London 2012 was Serbia’s first appearance in taekwondo at the Olympic Games and it was golden. Serbia’s Milica Mandic won her country’s first gold medal in London as she upset world No. 1 Anne-Caroline Graffe of France. The athletes took turns advancing and drawing even throughout the match. But in the end, it was Mandic that took the gold and Graffe with the silver.

To get to the final seventh-seed Serbia’s Milica Mandic stunned second-seed and Beijing Olympic gold medalist Maria Espinoza of Mexico to move to the semifinals. She then upset third-seeded Anastasia Baryshnikova of Russia in the semifinal match. Mandic is the currentworld taekwondo bronze medalist. Anastasia Baryshnikova from Russia took a bronze medal away from Korean contender In-Jong Lee by golden point after tying at official time 6-6. The hard fought match put the European gold medal champion in a position to take the bronze.

In Jong Lee had to qualify for the women’s +67kg bronze-medal match through repechage after finalist Graffe defeated her in a shocking and thrilling quarterfinal match. Lee was dominant in here preliminary and repechage matches, but couldn’t shake her Russian counterpart for the bronze.

Cuba’s Robellis Despaigne dominated his repechage match winning by point gap 14:2 at the end of round 2 to face off Mali’s giant Daba Modibo Keita for the first of two men’s bronze medal matches of the night. However, after an injury during his semifinal match against gold medalist Molfetta, he had to withdraw and Despaigne took the bronze.

Beijing Olympic gold medalist Maria del Rosario Espinoza of Mexico shutout her Samoan competitor Talitiga Crawley by point gap 13-0 to move onto to taking the second women’s +67kg bronze medal defeating Glenhis Hernandez of Cuba. —- WTF

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