A total of 131 of the world’s best Taekwondo athletes have been confirmed to compete at this month’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 61 countries will be represented plus the Refugee Olympic Team as a further endorsement of Taekwondo’s universality. With such strength across the field, it is expected to be a fantastic and unpredictable Olympic Taekwondo competition.
Below is a summary of just some of the Taekwondoin to look out for in Tokyo.
Panipak Wongpattanakit (THA)
Panipak Wongpattanakit became World Champion at just 18 at the 2015 World Championships. One year later she claimed Olympic bronze at Rio 2016. Since then she has gone on to claim another World title and multiple Grand Prix gold medals, which has propelled her to the top of the rankings.
Jingyu Wu (CHN)
Two-time Olympic champion in the women's -49kg category, China's Wu had once announced her retirement after losing in the quarter-final in Rio. But she returned in 2019, barely a year after the birth of her daughter.
Having endured a gruelling tournament schedule to rack up enough points to qualify for Tokyo 2020, the 34-year-old will be the first female Taekwondoin to compete in her fourth Olympics.
Jade Jones (GBR)
Jade Jones will be aiming to make history in Tokyo by winning her third consecutive Olympic title. Jones has won it all in Taekwondo. In 2019 at the World Championships she added the then elusive World title to her already significant medal collection. This year she won the European title in Sofia and will be hoping to use this as a springboard for the Olympic Games.
Kimia Alizadeh (EOR)
Kimia Alizadeh won bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In Tokyo she will be competing for the IOC’s Refugee Olympic Team (EOR) where she aims to become the first refugee athlete to claim an Olympic medal.
Ruth Gbagbi (CIV)
Ruth Gbagbi won bronze at Rio 2016 and in Tokyo 2020 she hopes to become the first woman from her country to win an Olympic gold medal. She showcased her credentials at this year’s African Championships in which she won gold. Gbagbi also won gold at the last World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Moscow in 2019 and gold at the Grand Prix in Sofia.
Lauren Williams (GBR)
Lauren Williams is one of the latest Taekwondoin on the conveyer belt of talent produced by Great Britain. She won silver at this year’s European Championships in Sofia having also won silver there at the Grand Prix in 2019. Tokyo 2020 will be her first Olympic Games and she will no doubt be aiming to replicate the success of team mate Jade Jones at an Olympic Games.
Bianca Walkden (GBR)
Bianca Walkden is a three-time World Champion (2015, 2017 and 2019). In 2017 she won the World Championships, all four Grand Prixes and the Grand Slam. However, the Olympic title currently eludes her as she won bronze at Rio 2016. It is likely if she is to put that right in Tokyo she will need to beat China’s Shuyin Zheng with whom she has established a thrilling rivalry.
Shuyin Zheng (CHN)
Shuyin Zheng is the reigning Olympic champion having won gold at Rio 2016. She narrowly lost out on her first World title to Bianca Walkden at the World Championships in Manchester but will be looking to put that right in Tokyo.
Jun Jang (KOR)
Top-ranked Jun Jan will be making his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 but that will not lessen the expectations of what he could achieve. He won Male Player of the Year in 2019 on the back of a very impressive season which saw him win gold at the World Taekwondo Championships in Manchester as well as golds at the Sofia, Chiba and Roma 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix.
Vito Dell’Aquila (ITA)
Another Olympic Games debutant is Italy’s Vito Dell’Aquila. At the Moscow Grand Prix Final in 2019 it was Dell’Aquila who came out on top to win gold. He claimed bronze medals at the Sofia and Chiba Grand Prix that same year.
Dae Hoon Lee (KOR)
For Dae Hoon Lee Tokyo 2020 will be his third Olympic Games and he will be hoping it will be third time lucky in his search for Olympic gold. At Rio 2016 he claimed bronze and at London 2012 it was silver. He has since become a father but will aim to use this as further motivation. As the top ranked athlete in the M-68kg and three-time World Champion he will arrive in Tokyo with plenty of expectations.
Shuai Zhao (CHN)
Shuai Zhao has tasted Olympic success before having won gold in the M-58kg at Rio 2016. He will be hoping to replicate that same success in this new heavier weight category. He has made the transition well so far having won gold at the World Championships in Manchester in 2019 as well as claiming gold at the 2019 Sofia World Taekwondo Grand Prix.
Mirhashem Hosseini (IRI)
Mirhashem Hosseini is another Olympic debutant who has made a name for himself in recent years despite his young age. In a break-through season in 2019 he won gold at the Chiba and Roma World Taekwondo Grand Prixes. It was also the year that he won gold at the Summer Universiade.
Maksim Khramtcov (ROC)
At just 19 year’s old, Maksim Khramtcov became World Champion at the 2017 World Championships in Muju. Now at 23 and the top-ranked athlete in this category, he will be hoping he can add Olympic Champion to his already impressive medal haul. In 2019, he won gold at the Roma Grand Prix as well as at the Moscow Grand Prix Final in front of his home crowd. Most recently he took gold at the 2021 European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Milad Beigi Harchegani (AZE)
Milad Beigi Harchegani will be looking to improve on his Olympic bronze medal from Rio 2016. Before the pandemic hit in 2020, Harchegani was in impressive form having won gold at the World Championships in 2019 and at the Chiba 2019 Grand Prix where he beat Khramtcov in the final. At the 2019 Grand Prix Final in Moscow and at the 2021 European Championships it was Khramtcov who pipped him to the golds so Harchegani will be fighting to regain top spot in Tokyo.
Cheick Sallah Cisse (CIV)
Cheick Sallah Cisse claimed a famous last-second victory in the final of Rio 2016 to give his country its first ever Olympic gold medal. The Olympic Champion will be doing everything he can to defend his title in Tokyo. He won gold at this year’s African Championships in Dakar, Senegal.
Vladislav Larin (ROC)
Vladislav Larin is another who will be hoping to make his Olympic debut in Tokyo one not to forget. His recent silver medal at the 2021 European Championships will give him confidence he can push for gold at the Games. Prior to the pandemic he had won gold at the 2019 World Championships and at the Roma 2019 Grand Prix.
Kyo Don In (KOR)
Kyo Don In is another fighter who was in fine form in 2019 before the pandemic brought taekwondo competitions to a standstill. He won gold at the Moscow Grand Prix final as well at the Chiba Grand Prix and at the World Taekwondo Grand Slam in Wuxi. Tokyo 2020 marks his Olympic debut.
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