Mongolia’s Ganbat and Thailand’s Phuangkitch repeat as world champions after Paralympic heartbreak, while Asaf Yasur wins Israel’s first ever world championship as top-ranked fighters dominate on day one of the 2021 World Para Taekwondo Championships.
ISTANBUL, Turkey (12 December 2021) – There might have been no bigger surprise at Tokyo 2020 than when Mongolia’s four-time world champion Bolor-Erdene Ganbat crashed out without a medal.
He left no surprises on Saturday.
Ganbat showed why he remains one of the most feared fighters in the sport after a dominant run to his fifth straight world title.
After getting the day started with a 15-0 opening match win, Ganbat used heavy kicks and dazzling technique to leave his next three opponents on the mat and unable to continue, including Paralympic champion Nathan Torquato (BRA).
“I may not have won a medal at the Paralympic Games”, said an excited Ganbat after the match. “But I won my fifth world championship! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who trusted and supported me and happy 30th anniversary Mongolian Taekwondo!”
Brazil’s Silvana Cardoso announced her arrival at the top of the women’s game with a dominant run to the -57 kg world title, outscoring her opponents 52-1 before edging hometown favourite Gamze Gurdal 15-12 in a nervy final.
Thailand’s Khwansuda Phuangkitcha won her second straight world title, announcing that she could be the top threat to challenge Paralympic champion Angelica Espinoza (PER) – who did not compete – in the Paris 2024 qualification cycle.
Phuangkitcha bested some of the -47 kg division’s top fighters along the way, including European champion Dzetsun-Sholbana Kara-Ool (RTU) and 2017 world champion Enkhtuya Khurelbaatar (MGL) along the way.
Yasur Becomes Israel’s First World Champion
Israel became the latest country to join the list of Para Taekwondo world champions after Asaf Yasur bested all comers in the competitive -58 kg category.
Yasur, who trains with Israel’s Olympic Taekwondo team, outlasted 2019 world championship bronze medalist Ali Can Ozcan 57-42 in the day’s most entertaining and highest-scoring match. Within a single kick for much of the match until a break in the final 45 seconds, Yasur pulled away at the end to win by 15.
“Coach asked me ‘Who wants it more?’”, he told World Para Taekwondo. “You’re faster than anyone, you’re stronger than anyone. Don’t stop attacking … if he kicks you, you kick more.”
It’s a remarkable achievement for Yasur who failed to qualify for the Paralympic Games and lost to Ozcan by 20 points in their previous fight.
The win was a testament of the effectiveness of the new ‘Super’ K44 classification that combines athletes formerly classified as K44, K43, and K42 into the same division. Yasur, formerly classified as K43, becomes the first athlete not under the former K44 class to win a world title.
“I think it’s a great idea. I’m happy that it’s mixed”, he said after receiving his gold medal. “You need to win with what you got”.
Taekwondo’s profile has never been higher in Israel, after Avishag Semberg won the nation’s first Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020.
Cavdar’s Gold Highlights Host Turkey’s 10 Medals
Paralympic silver medalist Meryem Cavdar continued her fine run of form, becoming the inaugural world champion in the -52 kg category.
Cavdar bested Paralympic bronze medalist Anna Poddubskaia (RTU) 14-7 to win her first world title. Paralympic champion Angelica Espinoza (PER) did not compete.
Host Turkey took home nine medals on day one, adding 6 silver and 3 bronze to Cavdar’s gold.
Paralympian Gamze Gurdal gave world champion Silvana Cardoso (BRA) fits before falling in the -57 kg final.
“My strategy was sound. I was determined to not lose to her for a third time”, she said. “This is home. I left everything on the court.”
Paralympic bronze medalist Mahmut Bozteke won his second straight world championship bronze medal, falling to Antonino Bossolo (ITA) 8-5 in the semi-final.
“In Tokyo, every match was like a final”, he said. “You want to win at home. I was really disappointed [to not win gold].”
Click here to see the Day 1 Photos
Action continues on Sunday with the men’s -70 kg, -80 kg, and +80 kg and women’s -65 kg and +65 kg titles up for grabs.
To catch all the action, please visit the World Taekwondo YouTube page at the following links.
Court 1: https://youtu.be/kw9D51ZeTYU
Court 2: https://youtu.be/94DW74Gsekg
Court 3: https://youtu.be/P2J14J4N6cE
Court 4: https://youtu.be/7AG1jK7Dy6M
-- Lee Reaney
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