MEXICO CITY, Mexico (December 9, 2015) – The Chinese national team won gold in the female category in a match likely to go down in history, while the Azerbaijan national team took gold in the men’s division at the 2015 World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships.
In the female division, silver was won by host Mexico, while Chinese Taipei and Korea settled for bronzes. In the male category, Iran took silver, while Russia and Korea went home with bronzes.
The finals capped a two-day “battle of the nations” at the Sala de Armas, the Olympic fencing venue in the Magdalena Mixihuca Sports Complex, featuring taekwondo’s most exciting competition format.
Teams feature six players. In the first round, fighters are matched by pre-set number. In the second and third rounds, coaches can substitute fighters up to 12 times, signaling each change by audio horn. Teams are allowed up to two foreign players.
The women’s final pitched Mexico in red uniforms against China in blue in what is likely to be talked about as a classic contest for years to come.
The Chinese national team comprised Shuyin Zheng, double Olympic gold medalist and WTF 2015 Female Player of the Year Jingyu Wu; Hua Zhang – who proved a dynamo in this format - Fenfen Shao, Yunfei Guo, and Zhaoyi Li.
The Mexico national team was composed of Itzel Manjarrez, Anel Vaitaire Felix Perez, Paulina Armeria, guest player Haby Niare of France, Mexican national heroine and Olympic medalist Maria Espinoza, and Katherine Dumar.
In Round 1, the combat stared at a surging pace, with both teams fighting aggressively. China seized an early lead, the Chinese fighters, being taller and leggier than the local girls. The round ended 6-2 to China.
In the second, China extended their lead to 8-2. Niare - a hired gun fighting for Mexico - grabbed a slew of points with a flurry and a head kick, but then China regained the lead, to 16-6. As the clock counted down, there was intense fighting with head shots being exchanged by both teams and both coaches making lightning substitutions. The round ended 21-15 to China.
Action restarted with the Mexicans looking more aggressive and the Chinese more tactical; midway through, the board was 22-16 to China. Then Mexico came back, evening the score to 26-26. Again, China crept ahead as both coaches matched change for change. For the first time, Mexico went ahead, 26-29 thanks to Espinoza. Then it was 30-30. The crowd stamped and roared as the board went to 31-31and the final bell sounded.
Pundits reached for their rule books to find that the winner would be the first team to reach three points.
Both teams started fast and the board flashed to 1-1. Then China went up to 2-1 amid a slew of fast substitutions. Mexico played both Espinoza and Niare – fighters who can seize three points with back kicks – but it was China’s towering Zheng who decided matters with a body kick for the last point. An epic clash.
The China national team had advanced to the final after demolishing the Chinese Taipei national team 31-14, while the Mexican national team had beaten the Korean national team - last’ year’s champions - 25-17 in an edge-of-the seat matchup.
In the final of the men’s category, Iran in white uniforms, did battle with Azerbaijan in blue.
The Azerbaijan national team was composed of Radik Isaev, Sina Bahrami, Aykhan Taghizade, Said Guliyev, Milad Beigi Harchegani, and Mahammad Mammadov, while the Iranian national team comprised Armin Hadipour Seighalani, Mohammad Kazemi, Abolfazl Yaghoubijouybari, World Champion Masoud Hajizavareh, and Saeid Rajabi.
The match stared in tactical, stand-off style, before Azerbaijan seized a 3-1 lead, then gradually raised it, ending the round 8-6.
Round 2 started well for Azerbaijan, kicking off the Iranian fighter’s head guard . From then on, it was all downhill for Iran, unable to cope with the leg length and height of the Azeri players who were scoring with head shots from both long and close range. Despite some heroic play by the up-and-coming Abolfazl Yaghoubijouybari, Iran looked increasingly frustrated. The round ended 29-11 to Azerbaijan.
In the third, things continued to go Azerbaijan’s way .With just two minutes left, it was 38-16 to Azerbaijan. Iran desperately needed to pull something very special out of the bag - but the bag was empty. It ended 42-23 to Azerbaijan - a nation which has heavily invested in taekwondo in recent years. After the final bell, its embracing, dancing players looked absolutely delighted to have delivered a return on that investment.
On their way to the final, the Azerbaijan national team had overshadowed and overpowered the Korean national team, 48-30, while the Iranian national team had, in a tough but entertaining contest, dispatched the Russian national team, last year’s champions, 31-24
In a slew of special awards, Cote d’Ivoire won the Good Fighting Spirit award; the USA won the Active Participation award. Reza Mehmandoust of Azerbaijan won the Best Male Coach award, while Korean Kyo-sick Kim, who serves as the coach of the Chinese national female team, won the Best Female Coach award.
The male MVP honors when to Azerbaijan’s Milad Beigi Harchegani and China’s Shuyin Zheng was chosen as the female MVP.
Hee-yeong Kim of Korea, Conrad Jenkins of Jamaica and Guillermo Rodriguez of Venezuela were selected as this event’s best referees.
- 2015 World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships (Interview)_Female Team| 1ST CHINA NATIONAL TEAM
- 2015 World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships (Interview)_Female Team| 2ND MEXICO NATIONAL TEAM