After the final day of Taekwondo’s four-day run at Tokyo 2020, medalists shared their Olympic experiences with media
CHIBA, Japan (July 28, 2021) - Given the ROC’s position at the top of the medal table in the Tokyo 2020 Taekwondo Competition, the sport may be poised for an explosion in the country, reckons gold medalist Vladislav Larin.
“Taekwondo is becoming more and more popular in my country, the team is very good - strong members! Strong athletes!” said the newly minted gold medalist in the M+80kg category “My preparation for the Olympic Games was crystal clear: All the athletes understood why we came here, for what objective and what purpose.”
Moreover, the sport has got what it takes to take to both catch the spectator’s eye and to engage the practitioner’s body Larin reckons.
“It is a beautiful sport, with beautiful movements, everything that fans love, we have in this sport,” Larin said. Moreover, “people who are interested in fighting can learn a lot from Taekwondo - for self development and self realization.”
Needless to say, Larin was delighted to have climbed to the summit of global sport.
“It is a really amazing feeling to get this gold medal, it took all my life to get to this competition,” he said. “The Games is a celebration of sport in general and I am really pleased.”
So will he return to the field of battle in Paris in 2024?
“If my physical condition allows me to do that, I will do it with pleasure,” the 29-year-old said. “But this is a sport for young people, the average age in my category is 26 or 27.”
Perhaps – but there is also a premium in experience.
Another 29-year old - Serbia's Milica Mandic – shared Larin’s victory on the day, bagging the gold in the W+67kg category.
And it was not the first time an Olympic gold medal had been hung around her neck: She had previously won in London in 2012, making her one of a tiny super-elite who have won two golds.
Making that feat more remarkable, she had won them over a span of three, not two, Games.
“I really feel amazing,” she said. “This is the same, but a different feeling: In London, I was 20!”
Between her duo of wins had been Rio 2016 - when she had gone home empty handed.
“Rio was very hard for me, I had wanted it so much, but I did not get a result,” she said. “I was sad and disappointed.”
Tokyo proved to be “third time lucky.”
“I tried step by step to do better [through the preliminaries] and my dream came true,” she said. Referring to her team mates and her master coach, Dragan Jovic of Belgrade’s famous Galeb Taewkondo gym, she said, “I think we are a dream team.”