Officials of taekwondo confident of success

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Officials of taekwondo confident of success

LONDON - World taekwondo officials claim they still have the best fighters at the Olympic Games despite several world champions and world number ones missing.

Taekwondo has been rocked by scandals in recent times, not least British Taekwondo’s decision to pick world No. 59 Lutalo Muhammad instead of the world’s top ranked fighter Aaron Cook.

Another issue is that while there are 16 divisions (eight each for men and women) at the World Championships, there are only half that number at the Olympics and each country can select a maximum of two men and two women in total.

For a country like Iran, that means under-74-kilogram and under-80-kilogram world champions Alireza Nasr Azadani and Farzad Abdollahi have not been picked as under-87-kilogram world champion Yousef Karami has come down a weight division to claim the under-80-kilogram spot.

Silver-medallist Mohammad Bagheri Motamed has been selected at under-68-kilogram, his regular category. French over-73-kilogram world champion Anne-Caroline Graffe is only fighting at over-67-kilogram because her compatriot and world champion at under-73-kilogram Gwladys Epangue is injured and cannot compete.

Either way, it wasn’t possible for both to take part. But the World Taekwondo Federation insists they still have the cream of the crop.

“We have all the best athletes here,” insisted the WTF Secretary General Jean-Marie Ayer.

“Sometimes we’ve had federations that had to make decisions because they were lucky enough to have several athletes at the top level.

“We have the best athletes here, we could have had others but this is it. We have a selection of athletes and we consider them the best and we’re looking forward to having the best competition possible.”

As for the British overlooking the world number one Cook, WTF technical controller Seo Jeong-Kang said that was in their right. In the WTF’s official guide to the Olympics, Cook is highlighted as one of nine “athletes to watch.” AFP

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