WUXI, China (Apr 2, 2023) - The opening day of the Wuxi 2022 World Taekwondo Grand Slam Champions Series did not fail to disappoint as the world’s best athletes delivered breath-taking Taekwondo and thrilling contests.
Ju Zuo and Jie Song ensured it was a day to remember for the home crowd as the two compatriots won gold in the women’s -49kg and -67kg respectively. On the men’s side, Uzbekistan’s Ulugbek Rashitov won gold in the -68kg and Iran’s Arian Salimi claimed the top honours in the +80kg. All gold medallists received a total prize money of USD18,000.
The first final of the day was the women’s -49kg and brought together Zuo from China and Spain’s Adriana Cerezo Iglesia. Zuo opened strongly and was able to keep Cerezo Iglesia at bay to win the first round 7-3. An entertaining second round saw Cerezo Iglesia go on the offensive in the hope of levelling the scores but Zuo was too strong and won the round 11-7 to claim the first gold of the day. China’s Qing Guo won bronze as she defeated Abishag Semberg from Israel 2:0.
The women’s -67kg saw another China vs Spain final, this time with Jie Song facing Cecilia Castro Burgos. Song got off to a commanding start with a 12-2 victory in the first round. Castro Burgos came out stronger in the second round and fought valiantly but did not quite have enough as once again Song proved too much and won the round 8-5 to claim the gold medal. An all Chinese bronze medal match between Mengyu Zhang and Jiani Xing saw Zhang win the medal with a 2:0 victory.
The men’s -68kg was a very close and tightly fought match. The first round set the tone as Danial Bozorgishoob of Iran claimed victory with just a few seconds remaining to win 5-3. There was little to choose between the fighters in the second round but this time it was Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan who edged it winning the round 7-6. In the final round it looked like Bozorgishoob would take the gold as he was 5-1 up with 10 seconds to go but a dramatic final flurry saw Rashitov win the round 6-6 win by final score. Reza Kalhor got Iran another medal as he beat Jaegwon Kang of Korea in the bronze medal match.
The last final of the day brought together Iran’s Arian Salimi and Emre Kutalmis Atesli of Turkiye in the men’s +80kg. Salimi began the match very strongly recording a 12-1 victory in the opening round. In the second round Atesli was able to land more points and a late head kick brought the score within 2 but it was not enough and Salimi won 12-10 to take the gold. Sanghyun Kang from Korea beat China’s Zhaoxiang Song 2:0 to win bronze.
The action continues in Wuxi tomorrow (3 April) with the W-57kg, W+67kg, M-58kg, and M-80kg categories all to be contested.