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Korea dominates taekwondo championships

May 18,2019
Korea swept the medal table on Day 2 of the Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships, taking gold in the men’s 58-kilogram and women’s 46-kilogram and 73-kilogram divisions on Thursday.

Sim Jae-young, right, competes against Mahla Momenzadeh of Iran in the final of the women’s 46-kilogram division at the Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships on Thursday. [WORLD TAEKWONDO]
Korea started off strong, taking gold in the women’s 46-kilogram division, the first final at this year’s world championships. Reigning world champion Sim Jae-Young successfully defended her title, beating Mahla Momenzadeh of Iran 11-6.

Sim took the world championship title in a surprise victory at the last biennial world championships in Muju County, North Jeolla, in 2017. Despite that success, Sim missed out on a spot at the 2018 Asian Games after losing to Kang Bo-ra in the team qualifiers.

The women’s 46-kilogram contest was followed by the men’s 58-kilogram, where Korea’s Jang Jun defeated Mexico’s Brandon Plaza Hernandez 25-9 to take gold.

Jang, who became the youngest Korean ever to take gold at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Russia last year when he was just 18, picked up his first world championship gold on Thursday. His medal cabinet already contains two Grand Prix golds and one bronze, an Asian Championships gold and a Grand Slam silver, but nothing from the Asian Games, as he also missed out on a spot on the team.

The women’s 73-kilogram final rounded off Thursday’s medal program, with Korea’s Lee Da-bin winning her first-ever world championship title with an emphatic 22-2 victory over Mexico’s Maria Espinoza. The 22-year-old Lee dominated former world champion and Olympic gold medalist Espinoza, taking an early lead and refusing to give up her ground throughout the fight.

Lee was competing in her first world championships, while Espinoza won her first world title in 2007.

Olympic bronze medalist Lee Dae-hoon missed out on the chance to defend his men’s 68-kilogram world title on Friday after he lost a semifinal bout on Thursday. Lee, who has 17 gold medals to his name, including from the Asian Games last year, lost an incredibly tight contest against Britain’s Bradly Sinden 24-23 to claim the bronze medal.

Korea only had one shot at a medal on Friday, as Bae Jun-seo earned his spot in the men’s 54-kilogram division final, set to take place in the early hours of Saturday morning Korea time. Korea failed to reach the medal fights in the women’s heavyweight contest.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]


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