PARIS, France (Sept 1, 2023) - Türkiye, Iran and Great Britian came away with the gold medals on opening day of the Paris 2023 World Taekwondo Grand Prix which saw drama, excitement and world-class Taekwondo.
Türkiye’s Merve Dincel, fresh from becoming World Champion in Baku in May, won the gold in the women -49kg. In the men -58kg, Iran’s Mahdi Hajimousaei managed to upgrade the silver medal he won at the Roma 2023 Grand Prix to gold. While in the women -49kg, Great Britain’s serial winner Jade Jones continued where she left off at Roma 2023 and won her second Grand Prix gold of the year.
The first final of the night and of the Grand Prix drew Dincel against Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Adriana Cerezo Iglesias. Dincel came out aggressively trying to set the tempo but gave away an early Gam-jeom in the process. Both fighters were trying to get into the inside without much success as Cerezo Iglesias defended excellently. With just seconds to go Dincel managed to break through the defence and landed a punch to bring the scores to 1-1 and win the round courtesy of higher registrations. The second round followed a similar pattern with neither fighter able to land a score. It looked set to finish 0-0 but with one second on the clock Dincel landed a kick to the head to win the round 3-0 and take the gold. Cerezo Iglesias was left with silver to add to the silver she won in Rome.
Cerezo Iglesias had snuck through into the final after a hard-fought win against Iran’s Mobina Nematzadeh in the semi-final. The Spaniard came back from a first round loss to win the next two rounds. Dincel had a slightly smoother route to the final as she beat China’s Xiaolu Wang 2-0 in the second of the semi finals. For Wang it is her first Grand Prix bronze medal while for Nematzadeh it is the second in a matter of months after winning in Rome.
The men’s -58kg final brought together the Iranian 19-year-olds: Abolfazl Zandi and Mahdi Hajimousaei. The two fighters had fought in the semi final of the Roma 2023 Grand Prix earlier this summer and Hajimousaei had come out on top. Unfortunately, the enthusiastic French crowd were denied a re-match as Zandi had to withdraw before the fight began.
Zandi had caused an upset in the semi-final having beaten Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi from Egypt 2-0. Jendoubi has won four Grand Prix silver and now two bronze. In the second semi, Hajimousaei overcame Bailey Lewis from Australia on the way to the final. Paris is proving to be a successful city for Lewis as his only other bronze Gand Prix medal came here last year.
In the last final of the night Jones faced China’s five-time Grand Prix Champion Zongshi Luo. Jones had shown signs of growing into the day in the earlier matches and got off to a quick start in the final with a chop kick to the back of the head. Halfway through the round and Luo had not managed to generate any momentum but then landed a front kick to the head to even the scores. A return head kick from Jones restored her lead. With 10 seconds left Jones landed another front leg head kick to win the round 10-4. In the second round, Luo came out immediately on the attack but Jones dodged and landed a head kick of her own to go 3-0 up. Another head kick from Jones doubled her lead. A spinning head kick from Luo made for a nail biting finish but Jones was able to hold her off and won the round 7-5 to take gold.
Luo had beaten former youth World Champion Aailyah Powell of Great Britain 2-0 in the first semi with Powell winning her first ever Grand Prix bronze medal. Jones faced a tough test in her semi-final against bronze medallist from this year’s World Championships Hatice Kubra Ilgun of Türkiye. Ilgun won the opening round but Jones fought back to secure her place in the final.