Para Taekwondo

Host Rwanda Leads the Way at 2017 African Para Taekwondo Open



KIGALI, Rwanda (April 7, 2017) – Sixteen countries traveled to Kigali, Rwanda in hopes of capturing African Para Taekwondo Open titles and improving their rankings ahead of the sport’s debut at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, but none could get ahead of the host Rwandese.


The event saw several nations participate for the first time, including DR Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, and host Rwanda. A special refugee team also participated in the event.


It was the first tournament for host Rwanda and it was one to remember as the team took home 6 medals (2 gold, 3 silver, and 1 bronze). Jean de la Croix Nikwigize led the way for Rwanda by taking gold in the K41 under-61 kg event. The team’s only female athlete, Consolee Rukundo, took the title in the K42 under-58 kg category.


“It was a great performance,” Rwanda Taekwondo Federation Secretary General Placide Bagabo told The New Times. “Yes, we expected some medals, but we never thought of winning the whole tournament that comprised some of the world’s strongest nations – like Spain and Morocco – as we were making our first ever appearance.”


Spain (2 gold, 1 silver) and Uzbekistan (2 gold, 2 bronze) finished second and third respectively in the team standings.


Other notable performances included Nigeria’s two gold medals (Faith Obayzuaye in the K44 female under-58 kg event & Samson Ukpera in the K42 under-61 kg) and Uzbekistan’s first-ever Para Taekwondo gold medals, courtesy of Farkhodjon Mamaziyaev in the K42 under-75 kg category and Ziyodakhon Isakova in the K44 female under 49 kg category.


One particularly memorable moment was when Parfait Hakizimana won his opening match as a member of the refugee team. Hakizimana is a Burundian refugee living in Rwanda.


Some competitors had a tougher time in the Rwandan capital. Mohammed Aatif – one of Africa’s highest-ranked Para Taekwondo athletes – crashed out in the semifinal following a tense 10:11 semifinal defeat to Serbia’s Nicola Spajic.


Even worse were the athletes that didn’t make it. Teams from Mozambique, Niger, and Austria were forced to cancel at the last minute and Austrian-based athlete Hadi, who was set to compete for the refugee team, was forced to withdraw after DHL failed to deliver his passport in time.


“Despite facing some disappointments from different sponsors who had accepted to sponsor the event”, said Bagabo, “we managed to have a very great tournament.”


The 2017 Africa Para Taekwondo Open is a G4/G2 event, meaning that athletes from Africa earn more points for the world rankings than athletes from other continents.


The updated world rankings, which are expected to see many changes based on the results of the 2017 African Open championships, will be published on May 1st.

For a full list of results, please click here.