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Taekwondo at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games

2016 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games


Host City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date Started: August 17, 2016
Date Finished: August 21, 2016
Events: 8

Participants: 126 (62 men and 64 women) from 62 countries
Youngest Participant: UZB Nigora Tursunkulova (17 years, 138 days)
Oldest Participant: USA Steven Lopez (37 years, 284 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 32 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): KOR South Korea (5 medals)


Once again men and women each contested four classes, with competition taking place at the purpose-built Carioca Arena 3 in the Barra da Tuuca district of Rio, which also hosted the fencing events. After the Games the arena was to be used as a specialist sports school and will accommodate up to 850 fill-time students. Seven countries made their taekwondo début at Rio: Aruba, Belarus, Cape Verde, DR-Congo, Moldova, Mongolia and Tonga. Doing battle for the medals were eight former gold medallists, two twin sisters, two sisters, a husband and wife, and an aunt and nephew.

There were 16 competitors in each weight category and each was a straight knockout competition of bouts consisting of three two-minute rounds, with and one-minute break in between rounds. The four competitors beaten by the two finalists en route to the semi-final took part in a repêchage and the two winners progressed to a bronze medal match, where they were joined by the two beaten semi-finallists. The winners of those two contests each received a bronze medal.

Each competitor wore either a red or blue chest guard (Hogu) and headgear, which this year electronically recorded hits to the head, and points were awarded for striking an opponent inside the coloured area of their uniform. Points ranged from one point for a direct hit to the body, being raised to two points if contact made via a spinning kick. A direct hit to the head was worth three points and four if made with the spinning kick. At the end of three rounds the contestant with the most points won. If the scores were level at the end of three rounds it went to sudden-death. If one fighter was 12 points or more clear after round two, however, the contest ended. The contest also came to an end on disqualification or one of the fighters is knocked out. For 2016 each contest took part on an octagonal mat as opposed to the traditional square one, and contestants wore new electronic headgear.

Ivory Coast had never before won an Olympic gold medal but that was rectified by [Cheick Sallah Cissé] in the men’s welterweight division. Prior to Rio, the Ivory Coast had won only one Olympic medal, a silver by track athlete [Gabriel Tiacoh] in the 400 metres at the 1984 Olympics. They came away from Rio with two more medals because a little over an hour before Cisse won his gold, [Ruth Gbagbi] won a bronze medal in the women’s welterweight division. Jordan also won its first ever Olympic medal, and it too was gold, when [Ahmad Abughaush] won the men’s 68 kg class. Niger and Tunisia won their first ever taekwondo medals to make it a great competition for the African nations as the swing of power in the sport was starting to change.

The 32 taekwondo medals were shared amongst 20 different countries with South Korea and China winning four of the eight golds between them while Great Britain’s [Jade Jones] was the only person to successfully defend a title from 2012.