ROME, Italy (Jun 11, 2023) – Chinese Taekwondo athletes found great success at the Roma 2023 World Taekwondo Grand Prix with Jie Song, Lei Xu and Zeqi Zhou taking home two gold and one bronze medal, respectively, but their work is just beginning with all three hoping to add to their collection in future events.
For Xu, her first Grand Prix women’s +67kg gold in her first ever final was an incredible moment, and it was made even sweeter as she had to defeat the reigning World Champion, Althea Laurin, to secure her spot on top of the podium. She reflects, “It was like I was dreaming. It was very exciting! This medal has given me a lot of confidence for the future.”
Sharing the same sentiment, women's -67kg champion Song expressed her happiness and excitement about winning the gold in Rome. However, with numerous competitions on the horizon, as well as qualification for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, Song understands the importance of maintaining her focus and drive.
“While I am thrilled to win the gold medal, I also realise the need for continuous improvement and growth to perform even better in the upcoming Grand Prix in Paris,” Song affirmed.
Completing China’s medal haul was Zhou, who took bronze in the women’s +67kg category. Zhou faced eventual finalist Laurin in the semi-final where she took it down to the wire for a deciding third round.
Recalling the third round, Zhou shares her thoughts: “Before the round began, I discussed with my coach a lot. It was a tough match and my first-ever Grand Prix semi-final so honestly, I was very nervous. However, I aim to take this experience into future competitions so that I won’t feel as nervous.”
Despite her own semi-final exit, Zhou was delighted to see her teammate and close friend, Xu, succeed in the final. “Of course, we had several discussions before the final, where I shared my insights on Althea's strategies from our semi-final match,” Zhou commented.
Although they compete in the same category, Xu and Zhou maintain a friendly rivalry. “During competitions, we are opponents striving for medals, but after the matches, we remain best friends, supporting and cheering each other on,” Zhou explained. Xu added, “Absolutely, we are there for each other. During rest periods, we analyse our opponents together to enhance our performance.”
Looking ahead, this trio of Chinese athletes is determined to leverage their experiences in Rome and return even stronger. “I need to train more and give my best in every match for future competitions,” expressed Song. Zhou emphasised her commitment, stating, “I am determined to train even harder to enhance my strength.” Xu concluded, “I will follow my coach's advice and guidance during training, seeking to expand my knowledge and improve further.”
As Song, Xu and Zhou celebrate their achievements, their inspiring journey at the Roma 2023 World Taekwondo Grand Prix highlights not only their individual excellence but also the strength of their friendship and unwavering support for each other. With their sights set on even greater heights, these remarkable athletes are poised to make waves in the world of Taekwondo.