Greek athlete Gkentzou steals the show in Chuncheon; Naimova, Torquato, Khalilov win too


CHUNCHEON, Korea (Jul. 5, 2024) - The Gangwon-Chuncheon 2024 World Para Taekwondo Open Challenge exceeded our expectations as athletes showed their readiness for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in style.


The one-day event was highlighted by incredible performance from Greece's Christina Gkentzou, who came out of nowhere to win the K44 Women -65kg gold medal in Chuncheon, Korea.


In her only second competition, Gkentzou stunned everyone with her 4:2 win over Paralympic medallist Beth Munro in the semi-finals before clinching the gold defeating Thailand's Awipa Phuaphan (20:3). 


Gkentzou, who won the 2024 European Para Taekwondo Championships in May, also went on to receive a wildcard for Paralympics following her impressive show in Korea.


Among other notable performance of the day was reigning Paralympic champion Juan Diego Garcia Lopez from Mexico, returning to winning ways only to settle for the silver in K44 Men -70kg event.


Azerbaijan's world champion Imamaddin Khalilov took the gold in the category.


Big names shine


With barely 50 days to go for Paris 2024, a strong competition was expected in the Pre-Paralympic event and the elite stars including Paralympic and World stars lived up to their billing, giving a glimpses of what’s coming up in few days in Paris.


Paralympic stars Naimova Guljonoy from Uzbekistan (K44 Women +65kg) and Brazil's Nathan Torquato (K44 Men -63kg) stood up to the pressure and stamped their dominance.


Meanwhile, Kamilya Dosmalova (K44 Women -52kg) stepped up her game ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games as did Georgia's Ana Japaridze (K44 Women -52kg). Both of them went on to win the gold medals. 


For Japaridze, the win was even more special as she shocked top players including Mexican world champion Jessica Garcia Quijano Jessica and Mongolia's Asian Para Games star Surenjav Ulambayar en route her success.


Among other winners were: Thailand's Khwansuda Phuangkitcha (K44 Women -47kg), Azerbaijan's Sabir Zeynalov (K44 Men -58kg), Kazakhstan's Zhanbolat Kaziyev (K44 Men -80kg) and Individual Neutral Athlete Ramazanov Aliaskhab (K44 Men +80kg).


Around 120 athletes participated in the final competition ahead of Paris 2024, which will witness competitions at the Grand Palais from August 29-31, 2024.