Taekwondo kicked off in Rio on Wednesday — the second Olympic Games to use changes to the martial art since scoring controversy in Beijing.
Competitors will now wear headgear that electronically detects points for strikes to the head, spinning kicks now earn more points due to their difficulty and the fighters will compete on an octagonal mat instead of a square. With London 2012, electronic vests were added for points from body strikes.
The first divisions to see action were the women’s 49kg & men’s 58kg.
Kim So-hui of South Korea won the gold medal in the women’s category, defeating Serbia’s Tijana Bogdanovic by a score of 7-6. So-hui led 2-1 after the first round, as she landed two kicks to Bogdanovic’s one. So-hui landed a head kick in the second round and led 5-2 heading into the final round. Bogdanovic, however, kept up with So-hui in this final round, and it nearly looked like she tied the score at 7 with a push kick as time expired. The point was overturned, however, going So-hui the gold.
The bronze medals went to Azerbaijan’s Patimat Abakarova, who defeated Yasmina Aziez of France 7-2, and Panipak Wongpattanakit of Thailand, who defeated Itzel Adilene Manjarrez Bastidas of Mexico 15-3.
Shuai Zhao of China won the men’s 58kg gold, defeating Thailand’s Tawin Hanprab 6-4 in the gold medal match. Zhao held an early 3-0 lead after the first round. While Hanprab landed a point early in the second, Zhao’s blocking skills were on display, helping him add another point and take a 4-1 lead into the final round. Hanprab narrowed the lead to 5-4 early on in the final round, but all it took was one more body kick and enough avoidance for Zhao to take the gold.
The bronze medals were won by Luisito Pie of the Dominican Republic, who defeated Jesus Tortosa Cabrera of Spain 6-5, and Kim Tae-hun of South Korea, who won his bout with Carlos Ruben Navarro Valdez 7-5.
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