List includes 8 former gold medalists and seven nations making Olympic taekwondo debut
(August 5, 2016) – The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) today released the full list of 128 athletes from a record-equaling 63 nations who will be competing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Among those who will be fighting in the sport’s eight weight categories (four female, four male) are eight former Olympic gold medalists, two twin sisters, two sisters, a husband and wife, and an aunt and nephew. A total of seven nations – Aruba, Belarus, Cape Verde, DR. Congo, Moldova, Mongolia and Tonga – will be making their Olympic taekwondo debuts in Rio reflecting the ongoing growth of the sport around the world.
In the women’s division, all eyes will be on China’s Jingyu “Joy” Wu, who, having dominated her weight category in the 2015 fighting season, looks poised to win a third Olympic gold. In a “fact-is-stranger-than-fiction” coincidence, Wu’s Olympic heroics were prefigured in film: She played a bit part in the 2003 Chinese movie “Taekwondo” in which her character won Olympic gold. In Beijing in 2008, and again in London in 2012, fiction became fact. If she wins a third Olympic gold in Rio, she will write history as the first taekwondo athlete to do so.
Among the men, the oldest player on the mats is 37-year-old Steven Lopez of Team USA. Lopez is a legend in taekwondo: He won Olympic gold in Sydney 2000, a second gold in Athens 2004 and bronze in Beijing 2008. Regardless of his success in the competition in Rio, he will make history as soon as he sets foot on the field of play as the first taekwondo athlete ever to fight in five Olympic Games.
In addition to Wu and Lopez, former Olympic gold medalists fighting in Rio are: Dong-min Cha (Korea) who won in Beijing 2008; Maria Espinoza (Mexico) who won in Beijing 2008; Joel Gonzalez Bonilla (Spain) who won in London 2012; Jade “The Headhunter” Jones (Great Britain) who won in London in 2012; Milica Mandic (Serbia) who won in London 2012; and Servet “The Cheetah” Tazegul (Turkey), who won in London 2012.
Olympic taekwondo is a family affair. Croatia’s Zaninovic twins, Ana and Lucija, will both be fighting in Rio. So will Australian sisters Caroline and Carmen Marton. The Marton sisters will be joined on the mats by Carmen’s husband, Safwan Khalil; all three Aussies are coached by Ali Khalil, Safwan’s brother. And from Papua New Guinea, Samantha Kassman will be fighting alongside her nephew Maxemillion Kassman.
“Taekwondo is one of the world’s most economic and democratic sports, one that overcomes all barriers of color, class, culture and creed,” said WTF President Chungwon Choue. “I am proud that we are fielding such a diverse field of athletes, who showcase the global depth, breadth and reach of taekwondo.”
To find the full list of 128 athletes, click here
To find the sample of draw sheet for Rio Olympics, here